UCLA ranks 3rd nationally in number of students at foreign universities.
Our students are very curious, and they're not satisfied just reading about these things in a book.
This article was first published in the Daily Bruin.
Lauren Raab, Daily Bruin staff
UCLA sent the third-highest number of students to study abroad of any four-year university during the 2003-2004 academic year, according to the recent Open Doors report, an annual survey by the Institute of International Education.
The number of UCLA students studying abroad has been sharply increasing over the past decade, illustrating a nationwide trend – U.S. travel study increased 9.6 percent overall last year.
UCLA's success in sending students abroad is credited to growing student interest in geopolitics, manageable costs and the increasing opportunities the university offers to integrate travel study into students' degree requirements.
The Education Abroad Program, part of the UCLA International Institute, and the UCLA Travel Study Program both allow students to receive grades and University of California course credit for studying at foreign universities.
Students' growing awareness of their place in the international community makes them want to experience other countries, said Hadyn Dick, manager of UCLA Travel Study Programs.
"Since Sept. 11, students have been more and more concerned with global events," she said.
Dick said though many students still follow the traditional path by choosing to study in Europe, travel programs are also expanding into Latin America and Asia.
"(These countries are) more and more in the spotlight as these places are becoming ... competition and also partners with the U.S., and you can see that in student trends," she said.
Danilo Bonilla, interim administrative director of UCLA EAP, said an effort has been made to connect departmental requirements with education abroad opportunities.
"Every year, it seems like there's more communication, more interaction, more streamlining," Bonilla said.
EAP also works to make studying abroad as affordable as possible.
Though students learning abroad with EAP still pay UCLA registration fees, travel and living costs may differ. The program helps students coordinate grants, scholarships and loans to offset those higher costs, Bonilla said.
"The majority of our students get financial aid ... so it's really feasible," he said.
The UCLA Career Center also offers travel study options in locations that may not be available through UCLA-affiliated universities, though students can only accumulate units, not letter grades, through the program.
Dario Bravo, the internship and study abroad services manager for the UCLA Career Center, said students like to travel to see what they learn about firsthand.
"They're looking for insight into what's out there in the world," Bravo said. "Our students are very curious, and they're not satisfied just reading about these things in a book."
UCLA sent 2,034 students abroad last academic year, according to the report, ranking below only New York University, which sent 2,475, and Michigan State University, which sent 2,269.