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News Release

For immediate use 

Jan. 12, 2006 -- No. 15

UNC leads public research universities
in study abroad rate: Open Doors report

CHAPEL HILL -- For the third consecutive year, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill had a higher rate of students going abroad than any other public research university nationwide, according to Open Doors 2005, an annual report published by the Institute of International Education.

The full report states that 1,362 UNC undergraduates studied in other countries during the 2003-2004 academic year – the latest data available for the annual report. This represents 36.7 percent of the 3,715 undergraduate degrees conferred (up from 34.6 percent the previous year), a higher rate than any other public research university.

UNC ranked sixth among all public and private research universities for the total number of undergraduate and graduate students going abroad (1,657), up from seventh place the previous year. Leading the list are New York University (2,475), Michigan State University (2,269), the University of California at Los Angeles (2,034), the University of Texas at Austin (2,011) and Pennsylvania State University’s University Park campus (1,874).

Carolina ranked 16th among all public and private research universities for the rate of students going abroad. UNC and the University of Virginia (17th) were the only public universities listed among the top 20. Leading the list were the University of St. Thomas (61.6 percent), Pepperdine University (61.5 percent), Wake Forest University (58.8 percent), Dartmouth College (58.1 percent), the University of Notre Dame (53.6 percent) and Duke University (49.4 percent).

"The increasing number and percentage of Carolina students going abroad is a direct result of our commitment to prepare students for life and work in a global society," said Dr. Bernadette Gray-Little, dean of UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, which oversees study abroad. "We have been expanding our international facilities, academic programs and scholarships, and continue to seek private funds for these initiatives, so that all students can gain a better understanding of other nations and cultures and of the role of the United States in the world."

The university has raised about $18 million in private funds for study abroad scholarships and programs during the Carolina First Campaign. There are several scholarships specifically for North Carolina students.

Carolina First is a comprehensive, multi-year, private fund-raising campaign to support Carolina’s vision of becoming the nation’s leading public university.

UNC’s Office of Study Abroad offers 313 programs in 71 countries. Students may participate in programs led by UNC faculty or their counterparts at foreign institutions. They also may engage in independent studies, research projects and internships overseas. Programs in English and in other languages are available for a semester, a summer or an academic year. In addition, special programs exist for science students.

The university recently purchased its first academic facility overseas. The 4,440-square-foot European Study Center in Winston House is located on historic Bedford Square in the heart of London. It will serve the Honors Program and will be open to students, faculty, alumni and programs from across the UNC campus. The center is being financed by $5 million in private gifts. The College of Arts and Sciences has raised $3 million so far, including a generous gift from alumnus James H. Winston, class of ’55, to name the facility for his family, which encompasses six generations of Carolina students and leaders.

Carolina also expanded its undergraduate exchange program with King’s College London to include graduate students and faculty. Plans are under way to eventually offer joint degree programs with King’s College, part of the University of London and one of the most distinguished research and teaching institutions in the United Kingdom.

Last year, 31 percent of Carolina students going abroad chose programs in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. This year UNC faculty will lead new programs in China and Japan, Oaxaca, Mexico and Siberia, Russia.

Back on the Chapel Hill campus, UNC is building a Global Education Center. When completed, the 80,000-square-foot facility will house international programs that are now spread out across the campus. It is expected to be the only university center nationwide to include international faculty, classes, research centers and student services under one roof. The facility is being financed by $20 million in state bond revenues and $7.5 million in private funds, with $1 million raised so far.

The Institute of International Education is a leading nonprofit educational and cultural exchange organization. Additional details about the report are available online at

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Related release on London initiatives:

UNC Office of Study Abroad contacts: Robert Miles, director, (919) 962-7002; and Madge Hubbard, deputy director, (919) 962-8358
UNC College of Arts and Sciences contact
: Kim Weaver Spurr, (919) 962-4093 or