More US students are studying abroad, global study shows

by Ray Clancy on November 24, 2015

More students from the United States are studying abroad than ever before with the UK and other European countries proving to be the most popular, a new study has found.

Latin America is also proving popular with US students with the Open Doors report from the International Institute of Education showing that overall a total of 304,467 American students studied abroad in 2013/2014, a rise of 5% and the highest rate of growth in study abroad in five years.

FOREIGNstudentAmerican students studying in the UK increased by 6% to 38,250, but there were also large increases in the number of students going to other host countries in Europe, Latin America and other regions.

There was double digit growth in the number of American students studying in Mexico, Chile, and Peru and this contributed to an 8% rise in study abroad to the Latin American and Caribbean region.

The number of US students in Cuba rose for the ninth consecutive year, increasing 13% to 1,845 students. Ireland and Germany each had a 9% increase. Among the top 25 host countries only three, China, South Africa, and Argentine, hosted fewer US students compared to the previous year.

A breakdown of the figures show that the UK remains the leading destination for American students, followed by Italy, Spain, France and China, which remained the fifth largest host destination despite a 5% decrease. Germany and Ireland had strong increases, as did Greece, which moved back into the top 25 list this year.

Other leading destinations in Asia saw increases in study abroad with Japan up 4%, India up 5% and South Korea up 6%. There were decreases in the number of US students going to South Africa with a fall of 7% and Argentina saw a fall of 6%.

American students majoring in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) were the largest proportion of students studying abroad at nearly 23%, slightly outnumbering Business and the Social Sciences at 20% and 19% respectively.

Study abroad by American students has more than tripled in the past two decades, but the rate of growth had slowed in recent years. According to the report the increase was about 60% in the past 10 years but only 17% over the past five years.

The IIE’s Generation Study Abroad campaign aims to encourage more students to study abroad. It is currently working with 350 colleges and universities in the US as well as higher education institutions and organizations in other countries.

The US Department of State sends over 7,000 Americans overseas every year through its exchange programs and has launched a US study abroad office within its Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which is dedicated to encouraging more Americans, from more diverse backgrounds, to prepare for their future by studying abroad.

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