Global Penn

More students from around the world are clamoring to enroll at the University, while Penn students are studying abroad in greater numbers. So says the Institute for International Education, which recently released its annual data on international mobility of students and scholars.

According to the report, called Open Doors, Penn held steady at number 14 on international student enrollment among doctoral or research institutions, is second nationally in international scholars and now ranks seventh in the number of students who study abroad. JoAnn McCarthy, assistant provost for international affairs, notes the report is important because it backs up the claim that Penn is a truly international school, and is also a catalyst in developing more programs and attracting greater numbers of students.

Penn currently has more than 3,600 international students, placing it third in the Ivies behind Columbia and Cornell, and beating Harvard, Stanford and M.I.T. Penn ranks behind just Harvard in the number of international faculty and researchers: In the 2005-6 year, Penn hosted 2,320. McCarthy says Penn tends to attract large numbers of post-doctorates and research scholars, and has hired larger numbers of faculty from around the world. “We’re seeing much more interchange of academic staff than we’ve ever seen before and I think that’s just a trademark of a globalized system of higher education,” she says. “When [scholars] want to do cutting-edge research, people seriously look to the University of Pennsylvania.”

Penn had a banner year in the amount of students studying abroad, moving up the list from number 12 to number 7.

“Students are more interested in getting out and experiencing other parts of the world because they have a kind of global world view of how things work,” says McCarthy. “Penn has one of the broadest arrays of opportunities of any institution anywhere. It’s one of the reasons there are so many students taking part in these experiences.” Penn offers students from every school opportunities to put what they know into practice, in locations as varied as Argentina, Russia and Zimbabwe.

In the future, the Office of International Programs will work to engage students who have been unable to take advantage of existing opportunities, either because they are in a tightly constructed discipline with sequential courses (such as engineering), or because of financial barriers.

“Most students who will do this will come back and say that was the single most powerful academic experience that [they] ever had,” says McCarthy. “When we talk about access to Penn and its advantage as a world class university, we’ve got to make these opportunities available to any student who wants to take advantage of it.”

Originally published on December 7, 2006.

Originally published on December 7, 2006