The numbers are in and they’re very promising! Earlier this month the Institute of International Education released the latest installment of its annual Open Doors report on international education in the United States, reporting on both international students and scholars in the United States and U.S. students studying abroad. My focus here is on the U.S. study abroad data, but I encourage you to explore the Open Doors website for additional information about international students and scholars in the United States.
Concerning U.S. study abroad, over 300,000 U.S. students studied abroad for academic credit during the 2013-2014 academic year — an increase of 5% over the 2012-2013 academic year. Indeed, this new report indicates that one in ten U.S. undergraduate students studies abroad before graduating. The majority of these students represented STEM fields (23%) and Business (20%). These most recent numbers also reflect shifts in the destination choices of U.S. study abroad students with both Latin America and the Caribbean (up 8%) and North America (especially Mexico) (up 7%) showing considerable increases the number of U.S. study abroad students. South Central and Southeast Asia also experienced increases in U.S. study abroad students (5.2% and 5.3% respectively). In spite of these increases in other regions, the top three U.S. study abroad destinations remain in Europe, with the United Kingdom representing 13% of U.S. study abroad followed closely by Italy (10%) and Spain (9%). The majority of the U.S. study abroad student population participates in short-term programs (e.g., a summer program or a Maymester program) (62%), which are also often faculty-led. Concerning student demographics, the ethnicity gap in study abroad participation continues to shrink, with 26% of study abroad students during the 2013-2014 academic year representing minority groups. This percentage includes increases in study abroad participation for all minority groups but especially Hispanics (up almost one percentage point). On the other hand, student demographics according to gender remain largely unchanged. The study abroad student population remains majority female (65.3%), with males representing only 34.7% of U.S. students studying abroad.
In general, this report indicates that study abroad continues to be on the rise among U.S. college students and that the U.S. study abroad student population is increasingly diverse. Of equal promise is the diversification of student study abroad destination choices, especially concerning Latin America and and Asia.