University of Iowa

UI offers study abroad scholarship to every undergrad from Iowa

November 25th, 2015

'Our numbers are increasing this year'

By Vanessa Miller, The Gazette


University of Iowa student Lauren Bannon climbs Mt. Olympus in Greece during a study abroad program in June 2015. Source: UI International Programs.

The University of Iowa pitches the study abroad experience as one that can enrich the student experience, broaden career aspirations, and provide skills for living and working in other cultures, making sure to stress that this is becoming increasingly valuable in today’s global workforce.

However, study abroad participation among UI students has dipped of late, and officials this year launched an initiative that could change that.

The university started offering a $1,000 “Iowa Abroad Scholarship” to all first-year Iowa residents enrolled as full-time undergraduate students in summer 2015 or after. The money is one-time aid that all qualifying students can use by registering for a study abroad program before receiving an undergraduate degree.

Students must complete at least 24 credit hours at the university and participate in an approved study abroad program worth at least three semester hours to use the money. Costs for Iowa’s study abroad programs vary widely depending on type of student and length of stay.

“This is a way to really encourage them and challenge them to think about studying abroad, no matter what their major is,” said Downing Thomas, associate provost and dean of UI International Programs.

The university’s study abroad participation fell 6 percent from 1,248 in the 2012-13 school year to 1,172 in 2013-2014 — the most recent data available, according to UI officials. Despite that drop, UI’s overall rate of study abroad participation is about 29 percent — higher than the national average of 10 percent.

And study abroad statistics nationally have been improving, according to a new “2015 Open Doors Report” out of the Institution of International Education. The total number of American students who studied abroad for credit from U.S. colleges and universities reached 304,467 in the 2013-14 school year, representing a 5 percent increase — the largest in five years.

The total number of American students who study abroad through one of Iowa’s public, private, or community colleges has gone up 5 percent — increasing from 5,514 in the 2012-13 school year to 5,806 in the 2013-14 school year.

Iowa State University, which has seen significant enrollment spikes in recent years, is reporting big increases in study abroad participation. From summer 2014 to spring 2015, 1,633 students studied abroad for credit, 20 above the 1,358 who did so the previous year and 68 percent above the 972 in the 2010 fiscal year.

The UI drop is primarily among graduate students, who are hard to track, according to UI officials. And the Open Doors report doesn’t count international UI students who study abroad, a number that has been growing, according to Doug Lee, assistant provost of UI International Programs.

UI officials say it’s too soon to know how many students will take advantage of the $1,000 scholarship, but Lee said, “We are confident that our numbers are increasing this year through our enhanced offerings of year, semester, and winter or spring break study abroad opportunities.”

Choice destinations

Iowa’s top study abroad destinations include Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, India, and France. UI actually has the No. 1 study abroad program in India, sending more students to that nation than any other U.S. college or university — 89 UI students studied abroad in India during the 2013-14 school year.

Nationally, the top destination for American study abroad students is the United Kingdom, which saw a 6 percent increase to 38,250 students and hosted 13 percent of all Americans who studied abroad for U.S. college credit.

UI Rhodes scholar

Over the weekend, UI senior Jeffrey Ding was selected from a field of 869 applicants as one of 32 American Rhodes scholars. He’ll receive $50,000 annually for two years and have the opportunity to study at Oxford University in England.

Ding, a member of the UI Honors Program and a student in the UI Henry B. Tippie College of Business and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is scheduled to graduate in May with degrees in economics, political science, and Asian languages and literature, according to the UI. He also will earn a certificate in international studies and currently is studying in Beijing at Peking University’s School of Economics.

Since 1905, 19 UI students have receive Rhodes scholarships, including Renugan Raidoo in 2011.