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Only 15% of Spanish, Portuguese speakers study overseas

A huge study of 22,000 university students and professors carried out by Universia, the largest global network of Spanish and Portuguese speaking universities, has revealed that only 15% of students in Spain, Portugal and Latin America have studied in a foreign country.

Students and professors said the lack of funding was the most challenging roadblock to mobility

Survey respondents cited the lack of financial resources and language preparation as barriers to opportunities to go abroad for university study.

Despite the challenges, of the more than 14,000 students surveyed, 66.7% said they intend to do some sort of short-term study in a foreign country. Europe was their preferred study destination followed by North America and Latin America.

Of the more than 14,000 students surveyed, 66.7% said they intend to do some sort of short-term study in a foreign country

Figures from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics show that Brazil is the largest source country of the cohort, sending around 28,000 students abroad yearly with the US, France and Spain being the most popular destinations.

Mexico was the second strongest source country with around 26,500 mobile students attending courses in preferred destinations lead by the US, Spain and France.

Of the total 22,000 individuals surveyed for the study, 65% were university students, 24% professors and 11% administrative personnel.

The findings also revealed that almost 40% of professors said they had studied overseas and 26% said they had worked as a researcher or teacher outside of their own country.

Respondents said many improvements need to be made in order to increase national and international exchange of students and professors.

Among the roadblocks to mobility students and professors said the lack of funding was the most challenging followed by little information regarding opportunities, language barriers and difficulties with credit transfers.

Almost 40% of professors said they had studied overseas

The study, “Universities Without Borders” (Universidades sin fronteras) was carried out by Universia as part of a research series on internationalisation strategies in preparation for its III Encuentro Internacional de Rectores Universia in Rio de Janeiro in July.

It has launched a subsequent survey, “The Creative and Innovative University” (La universidad creative e innovadora) open to responses via its website until April 22.

Formed in 2000 and backed by Santander Universities Global Division, Universia has 1,262 university partners in 23 Ibero-American countries representing some 16 million students and professors.

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