Opening Doors

In this age of immediate feedback, many groups are focused on data and statistics. They want to know how many, how often, how far, how high and the general: how are we doing? 

The Open Doors report is a key resource in international education; issued each year with comprehensive data on international students and scholars studying or teaching at higher education institutions in the U.S., as well as U.S. students studying abroad for academic credit. The report is “supported by a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State,” and the latest report reflecting 2011/12 numbers was released this week.

So, how ARE we doing?

Inside Higher Ed highlighted the upswing in international student enrollment, which is up by 6.5% with a total of 228,467 students hailing from a variety of different countries. China is the top sender with 194,029 students, representing 25% of the international students in the U.S.

International students are heading to USC, U of I and NYU in high numbers, between 8,660 to 9,269. California ranks as the leading host state with 102,789 international students enrolled in their colleges and universities.

On the flip side, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports “Growth in study abroad by U.S. students approaches a standstill.” The report indicates 273,996 U.S. students studied abroad for academic credit in 2010-11 — an increase of only 1.3% over the previous year.

The United Kingdom, Italy and Spain still hold strong as top destinations for U.S. students. Fourteen of the top 25 destinations are outside of Europe, including places like India, South Africa, Chile and China.

More than half of these students are pursuing short-term or mid-term programs (from summer to semester), and they are pursuing degrees in Social Sciences, Business and Humanities – among others.

So where do we go from here? With the data lagging two years behind current trends, we are seeing a nation coming to terms with financial difficulties, and the cost of college continuing to rise. As providers and universities face the challenge of providing affordable opportunities for study abroad, I think we will see increase scholarship opportunities and continued focus on shorter term programming. As educators, it’s our belief that funding should never be an obstacle for a student who chooses to study abroad, and we will do what we can to make it happen.

For more Open Doors data, view the report online.


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