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US: “surge” in overseas searches after Roe v Wade

The US Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v Wade last month caused a “sudden surge” in American students seeking out study abroad opportunities, according to data from Study.eu.

The "rare" increase in study abroad interest from the US since the Roe reversal has been reported across several platforms. Photo: iStock

Geopolitical events such as elections tend to cause similar “short-term” spikes in interest, but the increase since the Dobbs ruling has stayed consistent

Following the Dobbs v Jackson ruling, the study abroad platform’s website saw an almost overnight spike in user traffic from American students, particularly from states which had laws in place to immediately restrict or criminalise abortion if Roe was struck down.

There was an 8% increase in interest from the 13 red states with “trigger bans”.

Users from blue states also increased by 20%, but Study.eu noted that blue states are “overrepresented” among Americans seeking out education abroad. The most popular destinations among these students are the UK, Germany, and Spain.

“We’ve rarely seen such a spike in user interest practically overnight”

IIE’s 2022 Covid-19 Spring Snapshot shows that 83% of US institutions anticipate more of their students studying abroad in the 2022/23 school year, but even with the expected increases, Study.eu’s jump in website visits directly after the ruling was almost unprecedented.

“We’ve rarely seen such a spike in user interest practically overnight. That goes to show how strongly young people in the US feel about the current political situation,” Study.eu CEO, Gerrit Bruno Blöss, told The PIE News.

Blöss stated in the report that geopolitical events such as elections tend to cause similar “short-term” spikes in interest, but the increase since the Dobbs ruling has stayed consistent.

“In this case, we’re observing a robust shift. Interest from the US has been stronger than ever since the ruling,” Blöss added.

HousingAnywhere, a housing platform for international students, also reported an “abnormal increase” in American users searching for housing in Europe directly after the US supreme court ruling. This data is reflected in US Google search trends, where the phrase “move to Europe” spiked to peak popularity directly after the Dobbs ruling.

“It is all about the place where people want to live: the place they can identify themselves with,” HousingAnywhere CEO, Djordy Seelmann, stated.

“It’s driven by personal values and beliefs… people’s choices will be heavily influenced by the potential impact of such political and socio-economic decisions that the federal or local government makes.”

Political events have often influenced Americans’ migration patterns. Gallup’s 2017 World Poll data shows that during the Trump administration, there was a 14% increase in Americans surveyed who stated that they would like to move to another country permanently, a surprising jump after several years of the figure remaining at 10%.

The increase was concentrated primarily among women under 30, which is also the demographic most at risk of being affected by the Roe reversal.

“The SCOTUS ruling was a trigger for many students to explore options abroad. Feedback we received from students points to a general frustration with recent legal and political developments in the US,” Blöss told The PIE.

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