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Study abroad program options grow

Gene Noone | Thursday, November 1, 2007

Students looking to study abroad next year have new cities to consider – Hong Kong, China, Cambridge, England, and, for those in Old College, Leuven, Belgium.

The deadline for 2008-2009 study abroad applications is Nov. 15, and the Office of International Studies (OIS) is expecting large numbers of students to apply.

Notre Dame is ranked sixth among American research universities in the percentage of students who study abroad, according to the most recent International Education annual report, titled “Open Doors.”

The report, released last year, compiled data from 2004 and 2005 and found that about 58 percent of Notre Dame students study abroad at some point during their academic careers. That percentage is expected to remain consistent in the next report, OIS director Claudia Kselman said.

Notre Dame offers 35 semester and year-long abroad locations.

“We are very excited about our Hong Kong program,” Kselman said. “We’re really hoping it will expand and become bigger.”

The Hong Kong program is open to all junior students; although Chinese language study is encouraged, it is not required. The program is a bilateral exchange with the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), a leading research university with 18,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students.

“The Hong Kong program is a result of a general initiative on the part of Notre Dame to move to the Far East,” Kselman said. She said an important aspect of the Hong Kong program is that students may choose to take courses taught in English.

The Leuven program is only open to junior undergraduate students enrolled in the Old College seminary program. Students will live at the American College of the Immaculate Conception, which was established by American clergy in 1857 to train future priests and bishops.

Classes for the Leuven program are taught at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL), one of the oldest Catholic universities in the world.

The Cambridge program was a result of faculty encouragement, Kselman said. It will join London and Oxford as another abroad program in England.

Dublin and London are the most popular study abroad locations at Notre Dame, Kselman said.

Kselman attributed their popularity to their long history with the OIS and the fact that English is spoken in both locations.

After the OIS receives every application by Nov. 15, it will evaluate the candidates and notify students midway through the spring semester of their decision.

“We look at everything,” Kselman said. “The statement of interest is very important along with recommendations. One thing we always do is look at transcripts, but we will not do so until fall grades are posted.”

Students who would like to study abroad in the summer have until March 1 to apply for seven of the nine locations. The London summer program operates on a rolling admissions basis while the Kampala, Uganda program deadline is scheduled for Nov. 15.

“Study abroad is an essential part of an undergraduate education,” Kselman said. “We want to encourage all sophomores to apply and will accommodate as many students as possible.”