KENNESAW, Ga. (Dec. 10, 2014) — For the third year in a row, the Institute for International Education has ranked
Kennesaw State University among the top 10 master’s-level U.S. institutions for student
participation in education abroad programs. The University was ranked eighth in the
country, with 766 students studying abroad during the 2012-2013 academic year.
IIE released the rankings in November as part of its 15th annual "Open Doors" report,
which surveys approximately 3,000 accredited universities. According to the report,
a record 289,408 American students studied abroad during the 2012-2013 academic year
– a 2 percent increase from the previous year.
Kennesaw State's ranking reflects several years of increased focus on international
education. In 2006, Kennesaw State ranked 36th in the Open Doors report, with 335
students participating in education abroad programs. By 2009 — the year Kennesaw State
first appeared on the top 10 — that number had grown to 618 students. With 766 students
today, education abroad enrollment has more than doubled among Kennesaw State University
students in less than a decade.
Several factors have contributed to this increase, says Iyonka Strawn-Valcy, director
of education abroad and exchanges. She attributes the greatest increase to the introduction
of the Global Learning Scholarship in 2007. Introduced as part of the University’s
five-year Quality Enhancement Plan from 2007-2012, the Global Learning Scholarship
makes funds available to all Kennesaw State University students in good academic standing
to help defray the costs of studying abroad. Awards range from $600 to $2,100.
“This scholarship has enabled students who otherwise would not be able to fund an
education abroad experience to participate,” Strawn-Valcy said. “It has also enhanced
awareness of study abroad opportunities for KSU students.”
She also cited the support of collaborating faculty members and colleges, the work
of the education abroad faculty senate committee formed in 2011, and increased training
and support for the Education Abroad Office staff as reasons for increased student
“Building upon dozens of close international partnerships, the Division of Global
Affairs is developing new and innovative models for students to study, conduct research
and participate in internships around the world, particularly within developing economies
and societies,” said Lance Askildson, Kennesaw State's vice provost for global affairs
and chief international officer.
For example, Askildson noted, the Division of Global Affairs is launching the University's
first international branch campus in Montepulciano, Italy, which will offer coursework
for degree programs in the humanities, international business, architecture and the
Kennesaw State's consistent ranking in IIE’s top ten list encourages University officials
to keep the tradition going.
“International education and engagement is not simply an aspiration for students at
Kennesaw State University,” Askildson said. “It’s an expectation.”
— Patrick Harbin