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Study abroad

Study abroad by destination

Several countries in Europe remain top destinations for students choosing to study abroad. Over 60% of students participate in programs in European countries. Latin American countries are the destination of about 15% of U.S. study abroad students each year. While only 7% of students opt to study in Asia, those numbers are on the rise.

In the 2003/04 academic year, China, Cuba, New Zealand, South Africa, Russia, and also Italy experienced double-digit gains in percentages of students choosing to study there over the previous year.

Top 10 Destinations for U.S. Students Studying Abroad
Data source: IIENetwork's OpenDoors 2009: Report on International Educational Exchange.

Country   # of students in 2007/08 % of total students abroad in 2007/08
1. United Kingdom   33,333 12.7%
2. Italy   30,670 11.7%
3. Spain   25,212 9.6%
4. France   17,336 6.7%
5. China   13,165 5.0%
6. Australia   11,042 4.2%
7. Mexico   9,928 3.8%
8. Germany   8,253 3.1%
9. Ireland   6,881 2.6%
10. Costa Rica   6,096 2.3%
Total # of U.S. students
abroad in top 10 countries:
161,916 out of 262,416 61.7% of total U.S. students abroad

Some observations:

• About half of all study abroad students study in 1 of the top 6 countries.

• China, Ireland, Argentina and India each experienced about a 20% increase in study abroad participants in 2007/08 over the previous year. The destinations Costa Rica, Japan, Argentina and South Africa were each up nearly 15%.

• 15 of the top 25 destinations are outside of Western Europe and 19 are countries where English is not the primary language.

• 56% of U.S. students studied abroad in a European country. 15% studied in Latin America (an increase of 11% over the previous year) and 11% in Asia (a 17% increase). Only 5% of students each studied in Oceania and Africa, but the number electing to go to Africa increased by 18% over the previous year. While just over 1% of U.S. students choose to study in the Middle East, in 2007/08 those numbers represented a 22% increase. In that region, Isreal is by far the most popular destination, but the number of students studying in Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar rose dramatically over the previous year.

• Most countries attracted more U.S. students in 2007/08 than in the previous year. Exceptions were Ecuador (#18), where numbers were unchanged, Chile (#19) and New Zealand (#21), down 3% each, and Holland (#23), down 5%. 

For the full table of the 25 most popular study abroad destinations and more, see the OpenDoors 2009 report.

Source: OpenDoors 2009: Report on International Educational Exchange. IIENetwork.

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