Magazine article International Educator

Data Reveal Rise in Students Studying Abroad; Numbers of International Students Drop Slightly

Magazine article International Educator

Data Reveal Rise in Students Studying Abroad; Numbers of International Students Drop Slightly

Article excerpt

DESPITE THE CHALLENGES facing international education today, the number of U.S. students studying abroad is at an all-time high. Figures released in November and now available in the Open Doors 2005 report by the Institute of International Education (IIE) show that the number of U.S. students studying abroad for academic credit increased by 9.6 percent in 2003-2004 (the most recent period for which data was collected) to 191,321. That's nearly triple the number of students who were studying abroad in the mid-1980s.

Europe remains the leading host region but study abroad to destinations outside Europe, such as Australia and New Zealand, has grown. Study abroad through short-term programs has increased, as has study abroad in nontraditional destinations. The latest figures also reveal increases in students studying in China and India.

The new data on study abroad numbers comes at a time of heightened focus on study abroad by political leaders in the United States. In November 2005, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution designating 2006 as the "Year of Study Abroad." Introduced by Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the proposed legislation encourages initiatives to promote and expand study abroad opportunities.

The Commission on Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Fellowship Program in fall 2005 approved its final report, Global Competence & National Trends: One Million Americans Studying Abroad, to the president and Congress. The commission was charged with recommending a national program to dramatically increase study abroad, with a particular focus on developing countries and diverse populations of students. Three key points in the Lincoln report are as follows:

* National leadership is required within the highest levels of government;

* Higher education leadership will have to step up to the plate more than ever and internationalize campuses across the United States; and

* The diversification of destinations, students, and fields of study will help both to serve our national interests and to democratize study abroad. …

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