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Embargoed until Monday, December 8


More UI students study abroad, slightly fewer international students at UI

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The number of University of Iowa students spending a semester or an academic year studying overseas continued to rise last year, putting the UI ahead of the average increase in study abroad nationwide. At the same time, there has been a sight decrease in the number of international students studying at the UI.

A new report from the UI Office for Study Abroad shows that 469 UI students studied in foreign countries during the 1996-1997 academic year, compared to 406 the previous year, a 15 percent increase. Of that number, 359 were undergraduates and 110 were graduate or professional students. Undergraduates studied in 43 different countries, with the highest concentration -- 62 percent -- in Western Europe. About 16 percent studied in Latin America, 11 percent in Oceania, and 4 percent in Asia, with all other regions combined making up the remaining 7 percent.

This diversity reflects a national trend toward more variety in study abroad destinations. The national figures are compiled each year by the Institute of International Education and released in its annual "Open Doors" report. This year's report is being released Monday, Dec. 8. Highlights of this year's report will be available then on the IIE Web site

The most recent national figures on study abroad in the Institute's 1997 report show a 6 percent increase nationwide. These figures represent the 1995-96 academic year, the same year in which the UI saw a 34 percent increase in students studying abroad.

The Open Doors report also indicates that the number of international students studying in the U.S. rose slightly in academic year 1996-97. The increase of 0.9 percent continues a seven-year national trend of slow growth.

At the UI the number of international students decreased slightly over the last several years. In academic 1996-97, there were 1,669 international students studying at the UI, compared with 1,673 in 1995-96, and 1,739 in 1994-95.

Gary Althen, director of the UI Office for International Students and Scholars says the reasons for the decrease are "many and varied." He said many universities have seen decreases in international students over the last several years and that there are no simple explanations for the changes from year to year.

In the last 10 years the number of UI students studying abroad has increased by 94 percent. Janis Perkins, director of the UI Office for Study Abroad, says that jump reflects a major institutional effort to make international study accessible to all UI students.

"Students who have international experience have a distinct advantage in today's global economy, so we have tried to make sure that no one misses an opportunity because they think studying abroad isn't feasible for them," Perkins said. "Our office has worked hard both to inform students of the options available and to develop affordable programs that are closely tied to degree requirements."

Most of the undergraduates studying abroad -- 79 percent -- came from the College of Liberal Arts, while 11 percent were from the College of Business Administration and 10 percent were from other colleges. Of the 110 graduate and professional students who studied abroad last year, 39 percent were from the College of Law, 18 percent were from the College of Medicine, 25 percent were from one of the 13 departments in the Graduate College, 10 percent were from the College of Business Administration, 5 percent were from the College of Education, and 3 percent were from the College of Dentistry.

Departments sending greater than 25 percent of their graduates abroad include global studies (100 percent); literature, science, and the arts (100 percent); Spanish (94 percent); French (90 percent); Asian languages and literature (52 percent); linguistics (38 percent); theatre arts (37 percent); Russian (33 percent); anthropology (32 percent); and art & art history (29 percent).

The UI report counts only those students who participated in formal study programs for which they received academic credit. It does not attempt to count all UI students who traveled, worked or conducted research abroad last year.

(EDITORS NOTE: The UI Office for Study Abroad can provide specific breakdowns of study abroad numbers in a variety of categories. Please contact Janis Perkins at (319) 335-0353 or Lois Gray (319) 335-2026 to request those figures and/or accompanying graphics. Also, several students who studied abroad last academic year are available to comment on their experiences. Weekend interviews can be arranged if necessary through the Office for Study Abroad. Gary Althen (319) 335-0335 is available to comment on the decline in international students.)