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Top US study abroad picks revealed

American students have named study abroad programmes in France, Italy and China among their top 10 for best international experience, according to new rankings compiled by the student review portal and course search engine Abroad101.com.

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For “most liveable city”, Melbourne came first followed by Dublin and the Gold Coast, Australia

The US company drew on the more than 16,000 student reviews left on its website – which works much like customer reviews on a site such as Amazon – considering factors such as the number of reviews received and a student’s academic, cultural and administration experiences and using an algorithm to crunch the data.

In its top 10 study abroad programmes list, CEA, offering exchange programmes at a university in Aix-en-Provence, France, came top out of 7,500 programmes, followed by the Sant’Anna Institute‘s programme offered by Sorrento Lingue in Italy and IES Beijing, China, third.

“Our rankings present high-level trends and an interesting starting point when researching programmes,” commented president, Mike Stone. The rankings – produced with STA Travel as a partner – detail, as well as an overall top 10, interesting categories such as top non-traditional countries (Poland), top short-term programmes (SFA, Costa Rica) and top budget-friendly countries (Mexico).

Asian cities dominated the “friendliest city” category with Seoul, South Korea, top

For “most liveable city”, another category – based on how easily students felt they could integrate into daily life – Melbourne came first followed by Dublin and the Gold Coast, Australia. However, Asian cities dominated the “friendliest city” category with Seoul, South Korea, top followed by Hirakata, Japan and Tokyo, Japan.

Provence featured again in the “top programmes for language lovers” list, with Wellesley College: Aix-en-Provence at Universite de Provence coming first, followed by Japanese Language School KCP International in Tokyo and Spanish school, IFSA-Butler in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“I learned how to plan and travel around South America without any outside help, I learned how to successfully navigate the public transportation system, I learned how to successfully communicate with people in another language, and most importantly I learned how to take advantage of living in and learning about another culture,” said one student from The University of Texas at Austin of IFSA Butler, in a comment typical of the site.

For “top programme providers”, honouring companies/institutions that organise placements directly, the Education Abroad Network was in pole position – a boutique company specialising in programmes in Australia, New Zealand, China and South-East Asia.

“A major component of Abroad101′s mission is to increase the quantity of students studying abroad”

According to IIE, 270,604 US students studied abroad for academic credit in 2009/10, an increase of 3.9% over the previous year. However IIE has called the rate of participation “extremely small, given that the vast majority of a population of nearly 18 million students enrolled in the U.S. higher education system never study abroad”.

Stone said that “a major component of Abroad101′s mission is to increase the quantity of students studying abroad” by ensuring that they select the programme “best fit for their individual needs”.

“Finding the ideal study abroad programme shares the same overarching mantra as the benefits of studying abroad itself: Increased access leads to increased awareness. We are confident that Abroad101 is providing a platform that can facilitate both,” he said.

Abroad101’s Top 10 Study Abroad Programmes 2012

1. CEA: Aix-en-Provence (Aix-en-Provence, France)

2. Sant’Anna Institute – Sorrento Lingue (Sorrento, Italy)

3. IES Abroad: Beijing Foreign Studies University (Beijing, China)

4. The Education Abroad Network: University of New South Wales & University of Sydney (Sydney, Australia)

5. University of Indianapolis: Odyssey in Athens (Athens, Greece)

6. The Education Abroad Network: Bond University (Gold Coast, Australia)

7. Semester at Sea (Travelling – 12 countries)

8. AIFS: Richmond in Florence (Florence, Italy)

9. AIFS: University of Salamanca (Salamanca, Spain)

10. Sol Education Abroad: Latin University of Costa Rica (Heredia, Costa Rica)

For all the Studyabroad101 2012 rankings click here

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