Europe dominated US study abroad destinations in 2021/22
Over 188,000 students from the US took part in study abroad programs for academic credit in 2021/22 as pandemic-induced travel restrictions began to lift.
This marked a 1,197% increase from the low of approximately 15,000 students at the height of the pandemic in 2020/1, but numbers were far from returning to previous levels, according to the latest Open Doors report published on Monday.
In comparison, there were 347,099 US students studying abroad for academic credit in 2018/19.
“From fall 2021 to summer 2022, institutions were beginning to resume study abroad programs but still taking precautions amid the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Mirka Martel, head of research, evaluation and learning at the Institute of International Education.
The number of American students studying abroad is expected to continue to rebound. IIE’s 2023 Spring Snapshot Survey reported that 83% of US institutions thought study abroad totals would increase in 2022/23 and beyond.
“Study abroad rebounded faster in Europe”
“Study abroad rebounded faster in Europe than in places like Asia, likely due to continued travel restrictions in these regions,” Martel added.
Almost half (49%) of these students went abroad during the summer and the majority (73%) went to Europe, with Italy, UK, Spain and France the leading host destinations.
The students participating in study abroad programs continue to be predominantly white (68%) and the proportion of those from underrepresented groups studying abroad has increased by 8% over the past 10 years.
“What we’ve seen is that diversity has improved over time,” said Martel, adding that there is “room for improvement”.
She emphasised that as the figures are still affected by the pandemic, it is harder to predict longer-term trends.
“Institutions are making sure that diversity, whether it’s who goes to study or where they go to study, is going to remain a priority beyond the pandemic,” Martel added.
The majority (65%) of students study abroad for short-term durations of eight weeks or less.
Across 249 institutions, more than 16,620 students received academic credit for an online global learning experience.
In addition, over 12,000 students took part in non-academic credit programs abroad such as internships, volunteering, and research.
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