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OIS receives record number of applications

Sam Stryker | Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Office of International Studies (OIS) received a record number of applications for study abroad during the 2011-12 school year, according to Kathleen Opel, director of OIS.

An increase in applicants is a recurring trend, Opel said.

“The number of applications is very slightly higher than last year,” she said. “Each year the number rises slightly.”

Opel said 1,002 students submitted 1,571 applications. OIS accepted approximately 800 students. That number will rise in the coming weeks as OIS accepts students from wait lists.

“A number of offers of acceptances will be extended in the next two weeks to cover those who withdrew an application or declined acceptance,” Opel said.

The rise in applications displays students’ interest in education extending beyond Notre Dame’s campus, Opel said.

“The numbers indicate Notre Dame’s study abroad programs are strong, and that our students recognize the value of an international education experience, whether on an OIS study abroad program, a service-learning international experience or a research or internship opportunity off campus,” she said.

Opel said OIS works to be a valuable asset to students’ educations.

“Being engaged with the international community is an integral part of a Notre Dame education,” she said.

The deadline for applications for the 2011-12 academic year was Nov. 15, 2010. Opel said the process of evaluating the applications is very intensive.

“Each program has a committee that reads all the applications to determine if the student meets the qualifications necessary and if the student preferences for site and semester can be met,” she said.

Opel said in addition to two students who were accepted to the new program in Dakar, Senegal, OIS is looking to replace the Leuven, Belgium program by next year.

OIS accepted 26 students to its program in Cairo. Opel said despite the political upheaval in the country, OIS is exploring all possible options for students who were admitted.

“It is not clear that the [Cairo] program will run, particularly in the fall.  We are presenting the students with several options including deferring acceptance to spring semester when the situation may be clearer or changing to their second preference program for consideration,” she said. “I hope and anticipate that Cairo will continue to be a study abroad site in the future.”

Regardless of the location, Opel said OIS ensures programs affiliated with Notre Dame are of the highest quality.

“We know our partners abroad and work with them to ensure that our students are in quality programs that provide rigorous and stimulating educational experiences while keeping students in safe living and learning environments,” she said.

Regardless of whether OIS acceptances or rejections, Opel said Notre Dame undergraduates should attempt to study abroad by any means possible.

“We in OIS want to help provide this opportunity to every student we can,” she said. “If there is not an opportunity through OIS, we urge students to explore other international options through ND or beyond ND.”

Opel said the power of international educational experiences is defined by how students develop in a foreign setting.

“Study abroad can change you, your life goals, your perspectives about other countries and cultures as well as your own,” she said. “It provides a window on the world beyond the U.S.  It allows you to grow and test yourself in ways that aren’t possible when you are in a completely familiar environment.”