Record Number of CSU Students Study Abroad in 2009-2010

COLUMBUS, Ga. - Boosted by new programs and bucking a national trend, Columbus State University experienced a 48 percent increase in study abroad participation during 2009-2010.

Enrollment by CSU students in courses and programs offered abroad for 2009-2010 reached a record high 152 compared to 103 the previous year. The previous high for enrollment was 149 in 2005-2006.

“In a dismal year of economic distress, our success in study abroad has to rank among our important achievements,” said English Professor Dan Ross, who led recent CSU programs in Japan and England.

A national study last fall reported the ongoing global economic recession had negatively impacted study abroad from 2008 to 2009 by U.S. college students at 85 percent of public institutions and 60 percent of private schools surveyed by The Forum of Education Abroad, which is recognized by the federal government for gauging study abroad activity by U.S. students. CSU’s enrollment during the period addressed by the survey declined slightly, 103 from 110.

At some schools, participation dropped as sharply as 26 percent. Factors contributing to the decline included institutional budget reductions and students opting to not cover program costs not covered by scholarships and other financial aid sources.

Ross credited CSU’s Center for International Education for helping the university maintain and expand study abroad participation. “(CIE Director) Neal McCrillis and his staff have effectively coordinated and promoted programs and have engaged faculty in developing study abroad courses specific to their disciplines.”

McCrillis said new programs in England and South Korea have reinforced study abroad interest.

A pair of new programs are based at Pukyong National University in the coastal city of Busan, South Korea. A May-session international business program, developed and co-directed by business professor Jong Ha, drew 16 students and included visits to Kia Motors headquarters and Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, while 11 students will engage in a June-July program directed by English Professor Seon Jeon and involving teaching English language to elementary school students.

Also new, “Shakespeare’s London” involves theatre professor Becky Becker this month leading 10 students exploring the relationship of theatre and culture during the Renaissance by attending plays and galleries in historic London venues and visiting Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare.

The bulk of study abroad programs available to CSU students take place over spring break and the May and June-July summer terms and cover disciplines from art (Japan) and biology (Bahamas and Costa Rica) to Spanish language (Mexico), literature (England) and more.

Additionally, 11 CSU students studied individually in semester-long programs at schools in Asia and Europe. McCrillis said the CIE projects that figure to climb to 20 in 2010-2011, with sites including Kansai Gaidai University in Japan, Edge Hill University in northwest England, the Galway (Ireland)-Mayo Institute of Technology and Kingston University in London.

CSU students also continued to take advantage of semester-long opportunities at historic Oxford University as part of a CSU in Oxford program supporting multiple spring and summer trips. Participating students and faculty reside in the Spencer House — a CSU-owned Edwardian home in the center of Oxford.

The women’s soccer team, with head coach Jay Entlich, recently returned from Oxford, where a unique, one-time program, Cross-Cultural Perspectives in Sport, engaged the team in both academic study and exhibition soccer matches over seven days.

Ross said he sees room for continued participation growth at CSU among both faculty and students. “Study abroad participation may often seem to require extraordinary commitment,” he said. “But for the faculty and students who make the commitment, the experience is almost always transformative.”

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