Over the past fifteen years, the number of American students studying abroad has more than doubled. In 1998/99, there were just 129,770 American students studying abroad for academic credit from their home institution, and in 2012/13 that number has grown to 289,408. When you also consider that more than 46,000 American students pursue full degrees abroad and over 15,000 students travel overseas for non-credit work, internships, and volunteering, the current number of U.S. students overseas grows to more than 350,000. What is clear is that American students are increasingly interested in studying abroad and that U.S. higher education institutions are active in providing study abroad experiences for their students.
More and more US students are seeking out short-term jobs, internships, and volunteer work overseas, and with good reason. Overseas employment and volunteering has big appeal. Working in another country gets students out of the classroom and into the community. They interact not just with professors and other students as they might with traditional study abroad programs, but they get to engage with workers and community members at all ages and stages of life and in a variety of settings.
At the recent EducationUSA Forum, I participated in a panel about how higher education institutions can harness Open Doors® to inform their international student recruitment. Open Doors, an annual survey of international educational exchange in the US, produced by IIE with the support of the US State Department, offers valuable information for higher education institutions. The session provided useful insights into different ways to use Open Doors data in planning for international student enrollment. Here are the top takeaways for international educators: