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A comeback for studies abroad


According IIE Open House 2022 report released today, data collected in the 2020/2021 academic year shows, as expected, American study abroad has nearly ceased amid the pandemic to protect global health and safety. The total number of American students studying abroad for college credit has decreased by 91%.

The good news: IIE’s Spring 2022 Snapshot shows that 83% of institutions noted an increase in study abroad for 2022/23 compared to the previous year.

Reflecting this resurgence, more than 650 Wake Forest students are expected to study abroad in 27 different countries for the fall 2022 semester and spring 2023 semester combined. The University’s rebound began in 2021. From fall 2021 to summer 2022, over 900 students traveled abroad.

Wake Forest International Listing remained stable in fall 2022 with more than 800 degree-seeking international students. The countries represented have increased from 64 in the fall of 2021 to 73 this year. The University’s Center for Immigration and Support Services office works diligently to facilitate the immigration process and support services for students, faculty, and staff.

Access to study abroad for all students continues to be a top priority at Wake Forest and the rebound is supported in part by scholarships, including a 10 million dollar giveaway which enabled first-generation students to choose to study abroad by significantly reducing their debt load.

“Studying abroad is essential to the work of our institution, and Wake Forest is committed to not only quickly rebuilding the workforce and meeting demand, but also to providing more opportunities and support. This is what the University wants. This is what students want,” said Vice Provost for Global Affairs Kline Harrison. “It is equally essential that international students come to Wake Forest and that Wake Forest students and faculty have opportunities for research and collaboration abroad.”

According to a study published in the Journal of Transformative Learning, faculty reported key benefits to themselves when leading study abroad programs, including enhancing their cultural and cross-cultural learning, developing their own research interests, deepening their student knowledge and experience a sense of rejuvenation for teaching.

Communication professor Mary Dalton views studying abroad with her students as an opportunity to explore common interests and create work with new ideas. In Copenhagen, Dalton students studied film history and movements, cultural media contexts, and specific film series. The result was a series of published student essays, edited by Dalton or co-edited with advanced students in an independent course of study, who contributed to their professor’s research work.

“International experiences with students in Copenhagen, London; Vienna; Tbilisi, Georgia; Moscow; and Vietnam have each had an indelible influence on my teaching and professional activity. They have been part of my education and have enhanced my classroom work as well as my scholarly and creative work.

Pierre SiavelisPolitics professor Peter Siavelis, who launched the University’s study abroad program in Chile in 2011, also engages students in his research when they travel to Santiago. Students conduct interviews with government officials that contribute to his ongoing study of Latin American and Chilean politics. The student-teacher collaboration is a victory for Siavelis and its students.

“Research projects abroad enrich both the students’ experience and mine,” he said. They get to know the people and places they have traveled to. They learn to adapt to different cultural situations and perspectives, and when they return to campus, they bring their skills back to Wake Forest and share them both formally in project presentations and informally in conversations.

In 2009, Wake Forest launched the WISE Conference providing teachers and school administrators around the world the opportunity to come together and learn from each other. Over the years, more than 3,000 people from nearly 300 organizations have attended to share the latest research and best practices on preparing students before, during and after travel to make the most of their international experiences.

The WISE 2023 conference will be held from February 2 to 4. The program and registration are available on the conference website.