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Record Numbers Of US Students Studying Abroad

Record Numbers of U.S. Students Are Studying Abroad

The number of Americans studying abroad -- which has risen 150 percent in the past decade -- continues to set records, rising 8.5 percent in 2005-2006, according to the Institute of International Education's (IIE) 2007 report on international education exchange.

"The opportunity for more young Americans to study abroad is a goal shared by the president, the secretary of state, and leaders in Congress, industry and academia," IIE President Allan E. Goodman said in issuing the report, Open Doors 2007.

A record number of U.S. students studied in other countries during the 2005-2006 academic year, according to Open Doors 2007. In 2005-2006, some 223,534 U.S. college students received credit for studying in other countries, an 8.5 percent increase from the 2004-2005 academic year, the report says. In 1995-1996, some 90,000 U.S. students studied abroad.

"A wide range of successful activities sponsored by the U.S. Department of State help U.S. students to gain access to substantive international experience," said Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes, citing as examples the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, the Gilman Scholarships for undergraduates and the new National Security Language Initiative programs focused on language learning.

Hughes expressed special pride in the Gilman scholarships -- named for former House International Relations Committee Chairman Benjamin A. Gilman -- because, "by reaching out to students of more modest means, it has produced truly remarkable gains in the numbers of U.S. citizens from minority communities who now can aspire to the life-changing experience of study abroad."

The National Security Language Initiative (NSLI), which President Bush launched in 2006, is an effort by government agencies to increase dramatically the number of Americans learning critically needed foreign languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Hindi, Persian and others through new and expanded programs from kindergarten through university and into the work force. The NSLI intensive language study scholarships "show America's respect for other cultures ... while demonstrating our commitment to building language skills for our citizens," Hughes said.

The president requested $114 million in fiscal year 2007 to pay for the NSLI effort.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said that studying these languages, "expands young people's opportunities, enriches their lives, and demonstrates our respect for other cultures."

The State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) funds the annual Open Doors study, which is based on a survey by IIE of nearly 3,000 accredited U.S. educational institutions. IIE is a nonprofit educational and cultural exchange organization based in New York City.

IIE reports in Open Doors 2007 that, while Europe remains the most popular destination for U.S. students, the strongest growth took place in other regions: the Middle East (up 31 percent), Asia (up 26 percent), Africa (up 19 percent) and Latin America (up 14 percent).

Top destinations for U.S. students remained the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France and Australia. The study found double-digit increases in the number of U.S. students studying in seven of the top 20 destinations, including China (up 38 percent), Costa Rica (up 13 percent), Greece (up 32 percent), Argentina (up 42 percent), Czech Republic (up 14 percent), Brazil (up 17 percent) and Ecuador (up 27 percent).

The study also found noteworthy increases in students studying in India (2,115, up 20 percent), Israel (1,981, up 22.5 percent), Peru (1,135, up 31 percent), South Korea (1,267, up 32 percent), Belgium (1,126, up 28.5 percent), Dominican Republic (922, up 27 percent), Hong Kong (915, up 22 percent), Tanzania (557, up 19 percent), Turkey (694, up 53 percent), Vietnam (390, up 13 percent) and Jordan (309, up 81percent).

Most U.S. students studying abroad participated in programs of eight weeks or less, 37 percent in programs lasting an entire semester, and 5.5 percent in programs lasting an entire year or longer, the study said.

While the largest U.S. universities (led by New York University) are the largest senders of students for study abroad in terms of sheer numbers, 18 smaller institutions send more than 80 percent of their students on such programs: Austin College, Centre College, Colby College, Colorado College, DePauw University, Dickinson College, Earlham College, Elon University, Hartwick College, Kalamazoo College, Lee University, Lewis and Clark College, Linfield College, Luther College, St. Olaf College, Transylvania University, Willamette University and Wofford College.

The top three majors of U.S. students studying abroad are the social sciences, business and management, and humanities, according to Open Doors 2007.

Open Doors was released at the beginning of the eighth annual International Education Week, which is sponsored jointly by the Department of State and the Department of Education. The purpose of International Education Week, according to Rice, is "to highlight the critical role of education in our efforts to secure a bright future based on international partnership and understanding."


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