The University of Louisville was not contacted for the story. UofL has bucked that trend, seeing rapid growth in the number of students studying oversees.  Mordean Taylor-Archer, vice provost for diversity and international affairs, sent the following note to the newspaper, which has chosen not to print it:

I was shocked to open the newspaper and see the story “Study abroad declines in Kentucky” in the 11/29 issue. I was even more surprised that the University of Louisville was not contacted for this piece.  UofL has dramatically increased its number of students studying abroad. In fact, our university now leads the state in percentage of students studying overseas.

The numbers clearly tell the story:  In 2008-09, 382 UofL students studied abroad for academic credit as reported to the Institute of International Education.  That number is anticipated to grow to 600 for the 2010-11 year, a 57 percent increase. The story also is puzzling given that the Courier-Journal reported on the growth and success of study abroad programs at UofL in June 2010. Since then, we have added even more opportunities and growth in our students’ travel. Here are a few examples:

  • 98 students participated in International Service Learning Programs to five countries
  • 110 students participated in programs led by Arts and Sciences faculty in 11 countries
  • 187 students from our College of Business participated in trips to at least seven countries

Further, we’ve increased the number of exchange programs with foreign universities. For example, our College of Business has tripled the number of exchanges, from four to 12, in the past three years.

And we have several high-profile programs that incorporate travel into the academic curriculum. The McConnell Scholars program attracts 10 high-achieving Kentucky students each year and includes a five-week, fully funded study abroad program to the People’s Republic of China.

Our Brown Fellows program welcomes 10 freshmen each year and provides four study abroad opportunities, one each year, throughout their college careers. This coming year we will have 40 Brown Fellows traveling abroad. 

As the Courier-Journal previously has reported, UofL is having success in landing prestigious international scholarships, including Fulbright and Rhodes scholarships.  UofL, in fact, is among the nation’s top 15 schools in producing Fulbright U.S. student program grants for research and English teaching assistantships, outranking schools such as Duke, MIT, California-Berkeley and others.

While not included in the study abroad numbers, the university sponsors other trips for student enrichment. Next week, about 25 students, faculty and staff will head to Cebu, the Philippines, through our International Service Learning Program. The next day, another group is headed to India to volunteer at health camps across that nation.

I cannot speak for other schools, but from our experience, the opportunity for UofL students to have a rewarding, engaging and quite often life-changing international experience has never been better.