The number of students boarding flights for the universities of Europe and elsewhere peaked at 241,791 in 2006-07 and continues to run at numbers over 150% greater than 20 years ago. And their destinations are increasingly diverse.
“U.S. students recognize that our world is increasingly interdependent,” says the Institute of International Education. “There is tremendous interest on the part of other countries for Americans to study there.”
Most of the students are choosing Europe with around 57% heading to the old countries. 20% are bound for Asia or Africa with South Africa and China being the most popular choices.
The most popular field of study for international students are the social sciences, business and humanities. Surprisingly, only 7.2% of the students who study abroad actually go to learn a foreign tongue.
The majority of those who study abroad go for periods of 8 weeks or less while the number of students spending a year or more abroad hovers around the 5% mark.
The trend to study abroad is encouraged by homeland universities with many institutions partnering up with fellow colleges abroad. Goucher College in Baltimore even requires undergrads to spend time studying abroad. And congress aims to get more students studying abroad in the future.
The government has realized that given increasing globalization it needs its most intelligent citizens to be exposed to other cultures and countries. They argue that this will make their citizens more competitive in a global market.
The government would like to increase the number of students who study abroad from a quarter to a full million. Mostly, international colleges are accommodating but there are sometimes problems when they are faced with the tendency of US students to prefer short courses.
Overall the outlook is positive for the international student. The experience of living in another culture and being in a minority is an interesting and mind-expanding situation for a young intellect to find itself in, and this should be encouraged.