According to the 2012 Open Doors Report released in November, 2012 there was an increase in both the number of U.S. students who studied abroad and the number of international students who studied abroad during the 2011-2012 academic year when compared against the 2010-2011 academic year. The extremely reputable Open Doors Report provides valuable information for the education industry and is produced by the Institute of International Education in partnership with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.
The increase in the number of students studying abroad during the 2011-2012 academic year is consistent with the increasing trend over the last thirty four years, during which there has been a relatively steady increase worldwide in the number of students who study abroad, with the latest estimate for 2010 at 4.1 million.
Specifically, the Open Doors Report shows a 1.2% increase in American college students studying abroad, and a 6% increase in foreign college students studying in the United States during the 2011/2012 academic year. Although American university students report a noticeable increase in the number of international students on their university campuses, the international students presently only comprise less than 4% of the total number of students in American Universities.
The percentage of women international students studying in the United States has steadily increased from only 28% in 1980 to 44% this past year. However, of the American students studying abroad this past year, 64% are women.
It is interesting to note that China ranks as one of the top foreign countries American students head for to study abroad, and reciprocally the United States ranks as the top destination country for Chinese students studying abroad. However, the absolute numbers are quite far apart with the number of Chinese students in the U.S. at 194,029 and the number of American students in China at 14,596.
The vast majority of international students who come to the United States to study are from countries that do not have highly ranked universities as determined by the QS World University Rankings. Likewise, the great majority of students from the United States study in foreign countries that have more highly ranked universities. However, according to the Open Doors Report American students are increasingly going to non-traditional destinations.
Although the increases in students studying abroad is promising when it comes to the goal of the people of the world understanding each other better, the trend of students flocking mostly to countries with more high ranked universities will prevent a more universal cultural understanding amongst the citizens of the world. The Council for Globalization of Education understands that when students select a country in which to study they want the cultural experience but do not want to sacrifice the quality of education. However, we believe that in the future there will be a more equitable distribution of foreign students in more countries as the value of understanding other cultures is more fully recognized and valued.
This article is reprinted with permission from The Council for Globalization of Education.