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Study-abroad participation at Penn was the seventh highest among American colleges last year, according to a report released last week.

The University jumped five spots - from No. 12 to No. 7 - in the annual study-abroad participation ranking by the Institute for International Education, which promotes educational ties between the United States and foreign countries.

Penn was the only Ivy League school to make the top 20.

JoAnn McCarthy, Penn's assistant provost of international affairs, said the growth in study abroad at Penn could be attributed to increased demand for non-traditional programs. She also said that study-abroad opportunities for students outside the humanities and business fields have expanded.

The number of Penn students studying abroad last year totaled 1,744, according to the report.

McCarthy said more students are requesting programs in new destinations, particularly China, India and Latin America.

For example, this spring semester marks the first formal exchange program between Penn and the University of Botswana, she said.

Daniel Obst, director of

membership and higher-education services at the institute that issued the rankings, said that career considerations are an important factor in students' decisions to go abroad.

Students realize they need international experience to be successful in a global market, and study abroad can both serve as a resume builder and teach them intercultural communication skills, he said.

The report also gave the number of international students coming to American universities. Penn remained 14th in the group's ranking of American institutions by international-student enrollment.

Penn hosted 3,689 international students last year.

Columbia and Cornell universities were ranked second and 13th, respectively.

Nationwide, the number of international students remained close to 565,000, leveling off after two years of decline, Obst said.

This turnaround was due to many schools' proactive steps to increase international enrollment, including extra spending on marketing and larger international-student recruitment staffs, he said.

Barry Toiv, director of communications and public affairs for the Association of American Universities, said student exchanges between American and foreign universities are very important for "increasing understanding in the world."

This understanding leads to greater economic and diplomatic ties between countries, he added.

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