Europe is First Choice for U.S. Mobile Students

by Kerrie Kennedy

The latest Open Doors report has revealed the number of US students studying abroad in 2015/2016 increased by 4% to 325,339, with the UK, Italy, Spain, France, and Germany coming in as top host countries.

The report conducted by IIE highlights the country’s increasing focus on preparing its students for a multicultural global marketplace. Currently, 10% of US undergraduates study abroad before graduating.

Europe was found to be the top host region, attracting more than half of US students who studied abroad, followed by Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia.

Strong growth was noted in Australia, Czech Republic, Cuba, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and South Africa.

China dropped out of the top five host countries, as the number of US students studying there decreased by 9%.

US higher education is increasingly focused on preparing students to secure jobs after graduation in order to advance their careers, and research has shown that studying abroad helps students develop the skills needed to succeed in today’s interconnected world.

In 2014, IIE launched its Generation Study Abroad initiative to mobilise resources and commitments with the goal of doubling the number of US students studying abroad by the end of the decade.

Twenty-five per cent of all students who studied abroad were majoring in STEM fieldsfollowed by business, social sciences, foreign language and international studies, and fine and applied arts.

Study abroad by US students has more than tripled in the past two decades. However, the rate of growth has slowed following the financial crisis in 2008.

Deputy assistant secretary of state for policy in the bureau of educational and cultural affairs Alyson Grunder said there is a commitment to increasing opportunities to study abroad for US students.

“We need to develop the talent and skills necessary for 21st-century careers. It is in our national interest to build and grow the international relationships and networks that are key to addressing the global challenges and opportunities we face going forward,” she said.

“State Department exchange programs such as the Fulbright and Gilman Scholarship programs and our global network of EducationUSA advising centers in more than 170 countries are key to achieving these goals.”

The UK recently launched a similar mandate to IIE’s Generation Study Abroad initiative, with UUK International looking to double the present 6.6% figure for outbound mobilityamong UK students.

In a separate survey that IIE conducted, an average decrease of 7% in the number of new enrolled inbound international students in US institutions was predicted for the 2017/18 academic year.