Press Release

More Americans are Studying Abroad - 55% Increase in Five Years

New IIE online survey indicates interest has remained strong in the year since 9/11

Editor's Note: Press are invited to a briefing to discuss the Open Doors data reported below and the impact and implications of September 11th on international student mobility.

"International Education: One Year Later"

Monday, November 18, 2002
9:30 a.m. -- National Press Club -- Washington, D.C.


WASHINGTON D.C., November 18, 2002 -- The number of U.S. college students receiving credit for study abroad in 2000/01 increased 7.4% from the previous year, reaching a record total of 154,168, according to Open Doors 2002, the annual report on international education published by the Institute of International Education (IIE). Findings from the report, which is made possible with financial support from the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, will be discussed at a press briefing today at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. in conjunction with the nationwide observance of International Education Week. Results of a new IIE online survey also released today indicate that study abroad is more popular than ever among U.S. students in the year since September 11th, with 45% of campus professionals reporting increases in the number of their students studying abroad in fall 2002. (See for complete survey results).

Open Doors 2002 reports that the 7.4% increase in U.S. students abroad in academic year 2000/01 follows four years of double-digit growth - 11% in 1999/00, preceded by increases of 14% (98/99), 15% (97/98), and 11% (96/97), totaling an increase of 55% in the number of students studying abroad in the past five years. Since 1991/92, the number of students studying abroad has more than doubled (from 71,154 to 154,168, an increase of 116%). "I'm excited to see the continued growth in the numbers of American students studying overseas," said Patricia Harrison, the State Department's Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs. "Some feared that in the wake of 9/11 young Americans would shrink from international experiences, and pursue only domestic options. But as the new Open Doors report shows, more students are studying abroad than ever before, a sign that young Americans clearly recognize the crucial role they will play in leading our nation into a world even more connected than it is today."

According to IIE President Allan Goodman, "Despite efforts by terrorists to isolate America from the rest of the world, the response by American students and American campuses is to become more intensely engaged in international affairs, and to seek out more opportunities for first-hand interaction with other cultures and other countries. The Open Doors data confirm what IIE has seen in the scholarship programs we administer, where applications have risen by as much as fifty percent this year."

Open Doors 2002 indicates that students are continuing to study abroad for shorter sojourns (many for less than eight weeks), with nearly 50% of undergraduate and master's degree students electing summer, January term, internships, and other short-term programs instead of academic year or semester programs. Most American students (91%) who studied abroad did so for one semester or less in 2000/01.

Open Doors 2002 reports that twenty-four U.S. campuses, primarily large research institutions, awarded academic credit for study abroad last year to more than 1,000 of their students. Michigan State University sent the most students abroad (1,835) in 2000/01, followed by University of Texas at Austin (1,633), New York University (1,471), Florida State University (1,464), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1,369), Miami University (Oxford, OH) (1,348), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1,286), Indiana University at Bloomington (1,268), University of Wisconsin-Madison (1,253), Arizona State University Main Campus (1,248), and Brigham Young University (1,235).

Open Doors 2002 also lists campuses according to the percentage of their students who study overseas at some point in their college careers (participation rate). Fifteen smaller campuses report that over 80% of their four-year students go abroad. In alphabetical order they are: Antioch College, Austin College, Carleton College, Centre College, College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's, DePauw University, Dickinson College, Earlham College, Elon College, Goshen College, Kalamazoo College, Lafayette College, Principia College, Saint Olaf College and Wofford College.

To make study abroad more accessible to a wider range of students, IIE offers an interactive website called IIE Passport ( with over 5,000 study abroad and learning travel opportunities for participants of all ages available worldwide. The service enables students to identify programs that meet their needs, and the listings include data on up to 35 fields, including location, field of study, cost, college credit availability, and eligibility for scholarships. IIE Passport also links travelers directly to the U.S. Passport Office site, where they can download a passport application. In addition, IIE has expanded its on-line services to educators, with the growth of the IIENetwork community for international educators, and the expansion of its new interactive web-based resource for members,

IIE is working with campuses and US government and private sponsors to reduce the financial hurdles for study abroad. Last year, Congress created the Benjamin Gilman Scholarship program for undergraduates, to provide scholarships of up to $5,000 for study abroad to students receiving federal financial aid. The program ( is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and administered by IIE. Applications for this scholarship were up 40% in the second term they were offered, demonstrating that interest in study abroad is strong when financial obstacles are removed. IIE's Freeman Awards for Study in Asia ( also provides support to financially needy U.S. undergraduates who wish to study in East or Southeast Asia. This program has already provided scholarships to 1,200 students, and IIE has recently announced a generous new grant from the Freeman Foundation that will provide scholarships to an additional 1,400 U.S. students over the next three years.

Highlights of Study Abroad Data from Open Doors 2002:

(Additional statistics are available on IIE's website at

The number of U.S. students going to less traditional destinations has increased dramatically in last 15 years. While Europe (with 63%) continues to be the most popular region for U.S. students pursuing education abroad - 97,271 students, up 9% this year -- the percentage of U.S. students studying there has declined by 17% since 1985/86. The percentage of all study abroad students going to Latin America has more than doubled since 1985, from 7% the first year of the survey to 15% this year, and the number of students going to Latin America increased by 11% to 22,387 this year. Other regions that have seen an increase include Oceania (up 29%, 9,302) Africa (up 14%, 4,540), Asia (up 5%, 9,247). The number of students going to North America (Canada and Bermuda) declined by 17% to 1,108, and those going to the Middle East declined by 60% to 1,659.

Many countries that had hosted only a few American students just five years ago are seeing hundreds of students this year, and New Zealand (1,120, up 40%) and South Africa (1,107, up 23%) each hosted over 1,000 American students. Other countries with large increases included: Cuba (905, up 64%), Kenya (846, up 22%), Korea (522, up 18%), Thailand (496, up 24%), Hong Kong (470, up 37%), Morocco (245, up 86%), Peru (356, up 2%) and Vietnam (188, up 32%).

All of the top 20 host countries experienced increased U.S. enrollment except for France, China, Japan and Israel. Italy surpassed Spain as the second leading host country. Countries hosting the most American students are: United Kingdom (30, 289, up 3%), Italy (16,127 up 25%), Spain (16,016, up 15%), France (11,905, down 0.2%), Mexico (8,360, up 13%), Australia (8,066, up 27%), Germany (5,116, up 8%), Ireland (3,973, up 4%), Costa Rica (3,641, up 6%), China (2,942, down 0.2%), Japan (2,618, down 2%), Austria (2,396, up 7%), Greece (1,754, up 21%), Netherlands (1,635, up 6%) Ecuador (1,311 up 2%), Czech Republic (1,273, up 2%), Argentina (1,258, up 28%) Israel (1,248, down 68%), Chile (1,233, up 32%), and Russia (1,152 up 4%). In 2000/01, The leading fields of study for Americans abroad were social science (20%), business and management (18%), humanities (15%), fine or applied arts (9%), and foreign languages (8%), followed by physical sciences (7%) education (4%), health sciences (3%), engineering (3%), and math or computer science (2%).

The Open Doors 2002 report is published by the Institute of International Education, the leading not-for-profit educational and cultural exchange organization in the United States. IIE has conducted the annual statistical survey of the foreign students in the United States since 1949, and has been collecting study abroad figures since 1986. A grant from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs supports the research and report. In addition to study abroad, separate surveys are conducted to generate statistics on foreign scholars, and foreign students enrolled in pre-academic Intensive English Programs.

Open Doors 2002 is available from IIE Books for $42.95. The new edition provides approximately 100 pages of data and graphics highlighting key facts and trends in international student and faculty flows. Open Doors 2002 can be ordered by phone at 800-445-0443 (toll free in U.S.), by e-mail from, or from the IIE Online Bookstore: Custom research reports based on the most currently available international student data are available for a fee from IIE Research at 212-984-5348. A limited number of review copies of the report are available to the press from IIE's media relations counsel, Halstead Communications. Call Deborah Gardner/Heidi Reinholdt at 212-734-2190, or e-mail


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IIE Experts

IIE experts on international education are available for interviews or speaking engagements.

Dr. Allan E. Goodman
President and CEO

Peggy Blumenthal 
Senior Counselor to the President