Published: Nov. 12, 2012

MSU national leader in study abroad, international student enrollment

Contact(s): Kristen Parker Media Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709

Michigan State University is one of only four higher education institutions in the nation to rank in the top 10 for study abroad participation and international student enrollment, according to the Institute of International Education’s annual Open Doors Report released Nov. 12.

MSU is the only Big Ten school to hold the distinction.

For the eighth year in a row, MSU sent more students abroad than any other public university with 2,577 students studying overseas in 2010-11.

Also, MSU ranks ninth in the nation for the number of enrolled international students, according to the report.

“Our high ranking continues to reflect our long-running emphasis on global engagement and competency,” MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said. “We hope our American students take the opportunity to study abroad, as international families recognize the value of a Michigan State education by sending their students to us.”

In 2011-12, MSU hosted 6,209 international students on its campus – an increase of 8 percent from the previous year. The rise is the result of an increase in Chinese undergraduate students. The other top countries of origin for international students in 2011-12 were Korea, India, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan. Most international students studied business, followed by engineering and natural science.

Nationally, international student enrollment rose 6.5 percent, according to the report.

In response to the jump in Chinese students, MSU created a team of Chinese undergraduates to serve as an advisory team to the Office for International Students and Scholars. Called Project Explore, the group inspired predeparture programs for Chinese freshmen at MSU, conducted in Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai.

As MSU welcomes students from China, the university hopes to increase the number of students it sends to that country. In support of the U.S. State Department’s “100,000 Strong Initiative,” an effort to get more American students to study abroad in China, MSU has received grants from the Coca-Cola Foundation and the Amway Corp. to provide scholarships.

“International learning can take place here in East Lansing as well as overseas,” said Brett Berquist, executive director of the MSU Office of Study Abroad. “We are developing programming that connects international and domestic students to share their knowledge and increase understanding,” he said.

Last year, MSU launched a pilot effort to include international students in study abroad predeparture seminars. This year, 49 international and domestic students shared their international learning experiences during a Learning Abroad Conference, developed by MSU’s Faculty Learning Community on Teaching and Learning Abroad. Additionally, the Spartan Exchange Mentoring Program pairs domestic students with international students coming to MSU for just one or two semesters to help them maximize their Michigan experience.

“We also are proud to be working with a film maker on a documentary film series that explores intercultural communication between American students and students from other cultures,” Berquist said.

MSU plans to show the first film in the series on its campus this week. The university also coordinated screenings on 60 other university campuses throughout the United States as part of the Department of Education’s International Education Week celebration. Next year, MSU will expand its efforts with the release of the “The Dialogue,” a film about culture exchange between American and Chinese students.

MSU offers one of the largest catalogs of international learning opportunities with more than 275 study abroad programs in more than 60 countries on all continents. Thirty of these include a community engagement module.

Fifteen of the top 25 destinations are “nontraditional” and more than 40 percent of students participated in programs in those locations. Top nontraditional locations are Mexico, South Africa, Brazil and Japan.

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