Racial Disparity in Students Who Study Abroad

Among the nation’s top-ranked universities, Duke University has one of the highest percentages of black students. Duke ranked third in this fall’s JBHE rankings of black freshmen at the nation’s 30 highest-ranked universities, behind only the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Stanford.

But a new study by Duke’s Office of Study Abroad finds that blacks make up only a small percentage of the students the university sends abroad to study.  While blacks are 10.3 percent of the entire student body at Duke, they are only 5.7 percent of the 475 students who are studying abroad this semester.

Margaret Riley, associate dean for study abroad at Duke, told the university’s student newspaper, “There’s a high percentage of diverse students who are basketball and football players. Their schedule doesn’t permit study abroad.” She also said that the “close-knit” nature of black fraternities and sororities makes it more “socially difficult” for black students to commit to study abroad.

Money is also a factor. Students who are not on financial aid are more likely to study abroad than students who receive scholarship grants and loans from the university.