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More William & Mary students are making sure international study is part of their college experience, and it shows — for the third consecutive year, William & Mary was ranked No. 1 for the percentage of undergraduates studying abroad among public universities in the U.S.
According to a report released by the Institute of International Education Nov. 16, 709 William & Mary undergraduate students, or 46.1 percent of undergraduates, had studied abroad during the 2013-14 academic year, an increase from 674 undergraduates, or 45.8 percent, during the 2012-13 year.
The report considers the number of U.S. citizens who study abroad for credit. Stephen Hanson, vice provost for international affairs and the director of the Reves Center for International Studies, said the percent would be higher if the report included international students who study abroad as well as students who participate in non-credit forms of global education.
He said for the 2014-15 year, the college expects to report just under 50 percent of the undergraduates are participating in education oversees before they graduate.
One of the main ways the college encourages students to consider study abroad is through curricular integration, Hanson said. Feedback is solicited by faculty and students about what types of international experiences would fit a course of study, and this year the college introduced a required cross-cultural class for all undergraduates.
“We do expect quite a number of William & Mary undergraduates will choose to fulfill that requirement through study abroad. We think that will propel the numbers even higher,” Hanson said, noting the college has a goal of 60 percent of students studying abroad by 2018.
At William & Mary, international experiences are not restricted to students who can afford it – Hanson said the Reves Center awards $400,000 in scholarships to students, helps them navigate financial aid options and even offers study abroad opportunities that are subsidized by foreign governments.
“Students who feel they could never study abroad because of financial obstacles, we’re able in many cases to make that possible for them,” Hanson said.
Hanson said the college is not only proud of the number of students studying abroad but also the contributions of international students who study at William & Mary. NAFSA: Association of International Educators reports international students at the college contributed $27.3 million and supported 449 jobs in the local economy during the 2014-2015 academic year.
“Study abroad tends to get most of the press, but the flip-side is bringing our best and brightest minds from the around the world to William & Mary,” Hanson said.