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Monday, November 15, 2010

Study Abroad

By spending time overseas, Americans can better equip themselves to deliberate about foreign policy and national security. Accordingly, the very last box in our textbook discusses the importance of study abroad. A new report from the Institute of International Education provides fresh data:

The Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, released today, reports that 260,327 students studied abroad for credit during the academic year 2008/09, compared to 262,416 the previous year, a modest decline of 0.8%. The Open Doors report is published annually by the Institute of International Education with funding from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. For the first time in the 25 years that the data has been tracked, the total number of U.S. students studying abroad for academic credit did not increase. However, the report found that there were notable increases in the number of U.S. students going to study in less traditional destinations. Fifteen of the top 25 destinations were outside of Western Europe and nineteen were countries where English is not a primary language.

To obtain a “snapshot” of whether these study abroad trends are continuing, IIE conducted a fall 2010 online survey of U.S. campuses in cooperation with the Forum on Education Abroad. The survey indicates that study abroad numbers are beginning to rebound, particularly to China. More than half of the campuses responding (55%) said they had seen an increase in the number of their students studying abroad in 2009/10 compared to the previous year, including some of the campuses with the largest numbers of study abroad students. The Open Doors 2010 report and Fall Survey findings will be discussed at a briefing today at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, in conjunction with the worldwide observance of International Education Week.

Campuses have noted that their students continue to show a strong interest in study abroad and campuses and study abroad providers have sought affordable opportunities for these students to gain valuable international experience. They also reported an increase of 37% in the number of students participating in practical work experiences as part of their study abroad, with 18,715 students now receiving academic credit at U.S. colleges and universities for internships or work abroad.