More Students Are Studying Abroad Worldwide

National
Posted By Eliana Osborn on December 3, 2015 at 9:16 am
More Students Are Studying Abroad Worldwide

Each year, the Institute of International Education releases an Open Doors report, tracking how many students from abroad attend college in the U.S. and how many U.S. students spend time studying in other countries.  The 2015 report finds that both groups are increasing in number, with shifts in where students are coming from and going to.

More U.S. students studying abroad, for shorter periods

During the 2013-14 academic year, more than 300,000 students left the U.S. and earned college credit studying abroad.  That is a 5% increase over the previous year and the most growth seen in the past five years.  Traditionally, American students going abroad to study have been mostly female and white.  65% of the current group are still female, but there has been an increase in diversity, as more than a quarter of participants are nonwhite.

One trend in study abroad that should enable more students to participate is the move towards shorter periods of study.  Instead of taking a year away from your home campus, more and more students are attending programs eight weeks or shorter.  Only 3% of students spent a year abroad while 62% went for two months or less.

This increased flexibility should fuel growth; the IIE expects the number of students studying abroad to double in the future.  Currently, only 10% of U.S. college students currently take part in such programs, with the largest group going to the United Kingdom and studying in STEM fields.

International students studying at U.S. universities reaches all-time high

On the other side of the international equation are the students who come to study in the U.S.  2014-15 saw an all-time high number of international students, increasing by 10% over the previous year to almost 975,000.  China continues to be the largest source of international students, with a dramatic rise in students from Brazil, thanks to government programs supporting their attendance.  India, Kuwait, and Nigeria also saw large increases in the number of students coming to the U.S.

Over the past few years, the number of undergraduate international students has increased so that there are now more of them than graduate students.  Engineering makes up 20% of the majors for international students, with another 20% in business management.  44% of students are studying in the STEM fields (engineering, math, computer science, etc.).

A handful of U.S. colleges and universities had more than 10,000 international students last year, with New York University and the University of Southern California leading the way.  This year’s 10% increase in students is the largest jump since the late 1970s, presumably because of stabilizing economies in the US and around the globe.

Eliana Osborn
Eliana Osborn is an associate English professor at Arizona Western College, with degrees from Brigham Young University and Northern Arizona University. She’s published widely in forums such as The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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