With the slogan “Go Beyond the Corner,” education abroad at the University of Virginia has become a popular tradition for many students. Over the past three years, UVa has seen a significant increase in the number of undergraduate students from each class participating in education abroad, which is continuing to rise.
Due to extensive involvement from the faculty at the International Studies Office, education abroad at UVa has increased by 25 percent since 2013. According to The 2015 Open Doors Report, the University was ranked 24th in the country for the number of students studying abroad. Dudley Doane, the Director of the International Studies Office, Summer and Special Academic Programs, noted that this ranking is significant because all but two of the other universities ranked are much larger than UVa.
Students from every school within the university and a wide variety of majors including social science, politics, engineering, pre-medical, and commerce students, among others, have made education abroad a priority during their undergraduate studies. The Open Doors report also indicates that of U.S students, STEM, Business Management, and Social Sciences are the top fields to participate in a study abroad program.
Some of the most popular programs at the University include UVa in Valencia, Summer Program in Oxford, and Summer Program in Lyon. Fourth year student Emily Breeding, who participated in UVa in Valencia during the Fall of 2015, speaks highly of her experience in Spain.
“Valencia had a strong community of friends and professors from different backgrounds which was an important consideration when deciding to go to an entirely new country,” Breeding said.
While abroad, many students gain a strong international perspective and insight into various cultures and people from different cultural backgrounds. Students also develop more self- confidence and independence.
When applying for jobs and internships, Doane said employers are interested in hiring young people who have experience working in diverse communities, are comfortable with team work, and are aware of, sensitive to, and able to negotiate differences among people. Students who study abroad to increase their fluency in a foreign language are also highly regarded by companies. Programs like UVa in India and UVa in Valencia will require students to practice the language of the host country.
Currently, just under 40 percent of UVA undergraduates are likely to complete an education abroad experience before graduating. This includes summer, January term, full semester, and yearlong programs. However, according to Doane, the Vice President of Global Affairs, University Deans, and President Sullivan are eager to see this number raise to 60 percent within the upcoming years.