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US study abroad numbers up 2.7% – Open Doors

Some 341,751 US students participated in study abroad programs for academic credit in the 2017/18 academic year, marking a 2.7 % increase over the previous period, the latest Open Doors data has revealed.

The number of US study abroad students in Japan grew by 12.4% from the previous year. Photo: Donald Tong

The UK, Italy, Spain, France, and Germany made up the top five destinations

According to the figures released by the Institute of International Education and the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, European countries remain the most popular destinations for US study abroad students (54.9%), with the UK, Italy, Spain, France, and Germany making up the top five.

The number of US study abroad students in Japan grew by 12.4% from the previous year, and Greece (up 20.0%), the Netherlands (15.4 %), Israel (11.9 %) and Argentina (11.2 %) also saw double‐digit gains.

“International exchange makes our colleges and universities more dynamic for all students”

The number of students in Latin America and the Caribbean fell by 1.4%, due to a sharp decline in study abroad to Cuba.

Excluding Cuba, however, the number of students in this region grew by 3.1%.

The population of study abroad students has also continued to diversify, noted the report, with almost one-third (30%) of students in 2017/18 identifying as a member of a racial or ethnic minority group, compared to 23.7 % in 2012/13 and 18.2 % in 2007/08.

“This represents an increase in access to study abroad opportunities for underserved populations of students in higher education, but it still trails the diversity of the US higher education community as a whole,” explained the report.

With regards to inbound students, Open Doors also revealed that international students in the US reached an all‐time high in the 2018/19 academic year, making up 5.5% of the total US higher education population during that period.

The discrepancy between the periods on inbound and outbound mobility reporting is due to the time needed to allow US students abroad to return to their home campuses and be awarded credit by their institutions, explained the authors.

“The record numbers of international students in the United States and US students studying abroad mean that more students than ever before are being exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking,” IIE president and CEO Allan Goodman said.

“Promoting international student mobility remains a top priority for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and we want even more students in the future to see the United States as the best destination to earn their degrees,” added Marie Royce, assistant secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.

“International exchange makes our colleges and universities more dynamic for all students and an education at a US institution can have a transformative effect for international students, just like study abroad experiences can for US students.”

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