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Press Release

Number of Americans Studying Abroad Shows Fourth Year of Double-Digit Growth: New IIE on-line survey suggests interest remains strong since September 11th

International Education Is an Integral Part of American Higher Education

WASHINGTON, DC, November 13, 2001—The number of U.S. college students receiving credit for study abroad in 1999-2000 jumped nearly 11% from the previous year, reaching a record total of 143,590, according to Open Doors 2001, 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 Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, 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 on-line survey also released today provide a closer look of what international education professionals have experienced on their campuses in the aftermath of September 11th (see IIE online survey release).

Open Doors 2001 reports that the 11% increase in U.S. students abroad in academic year 1999-2000 follows three previous years of double-digit growth - a 14% increase in 1998/99 preceded by escalations of 15% (97/98) and 11% (96/97). Over the past five years the number of U.S. students who studied abroad for academic credit has increased by 61%.

"The dramatic increase in study abroad is very good news for our nation, as it shows that the next generation of leaders will have a greater understanding of the world around us," said Allan E. Goodman, President and CEO of the Institute of International Education. "Even more heartening is the enthusiasm and interest among students in gaining international experience after the terrorist attacks of September 11. This is a time when our world needs more international exchange, not less. The terrorists wish to make us close our minds, our borders, and our markets to the rest of the world, and we must make sure they do not succeed."

"It is our fervent belief that international education is one of the best tools for developing mutual understanding and building connections between people from different countries. Understanding of and knowledge about the culture and societies of others is critical to the success of American diplomacy and business, and the lasting ties that Americans make during their international studies are important to our country in times of conflict as well as in times of peace."

Patricia S. Harrison, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, said, "The State Department is encouraged by the substantial increase in the number of U.S. students studying abroad. The trends documented in the Open Doors 2001 data demonstrate that students and institutions realize the need to better understand the world beyond our borders."

One of the major trends in study abroad reported in this year's edition of Open Doors 2001 is a marked shift toward shorter (less than eight week long) study abroad sojourns, with close to one-half 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 (90%) who studied abroad did so for one semester or less in 1999/2000.

The increased study abroad numbers this year reflect strong growth among campuses with large study abroad programs. Open Doors reports that twenty one U.S. campuses, primarily large research institutions, awarded academic credit for study abroad to more than 1,000 of their students, up from only eleven campuses last year. Brigham Young University sends the most students (1,967), followed by Penn State University (1,743), Michigan State University (1,674), University of Texas at Austin (1,619), New York University (1,471), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1,337), University of Wisconsin-Madison (1,297), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1,217),University of Pennsylvania (1,196), Florida State University (1,154), Indiana University at Bloomington (1,143).

The Open Doors report also lists campuses according to the percentage of a college's students who study overseas at some point in their college careers (participation rate). Eleven smaller campuses report that over 80% of their four years students go abroad. In alphabetical order they are: Alma College, Carleton College, Centre College, College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's, Davidson College, DePauw University, Dickinson College, Hartwick College, Principia College, Saint Olaf College and Wofford College.

Other trends in study abroad reported in this year's survey include: an increase in students studying in the business and technical fields; students participating in internships and work abroad programs; and an increase in the number of students choosing to go to more diverse destinations.

To make study abroad more accessible to a wider range of students, IIE offers an interactive website called IIE Passport ( with 5,000 study abroad and learning travel opportunities available worldwide. The service enables students to identify programs that meet their needs, includes 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, launching IIENetwork a new web-based resource for members of its international education network.

IIE is working with campuses and US government sponsors to reduce the financial hurdles for study abroad. This year, Congress created the Benjamin Gilman Scholarship program for undergraduates to provide scholarships for study abroad to students receiving federal financial aid. The program ( is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and administered by IIE. In the first year of the program nearly 2,800 applications were received for the 300 awards - demonstrating that interest in study abroad is strong when financial obstacles are removed.

Highlights from Open Doors 2001:

(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 62%) continues to be the most popular region for U.S. students pursuing education abroad - 89,593 students, up 10% this year -- the percentage of U.S. students studying there has declined by 18% since 1985/86. The percentage of students going to Latin America has doubled since 1985, from 7% the first year of the survey to 14% this year. Other regions that are attracting an increasing number of students include the Middle East (15% increase, total 4,127 students), Africa (up 8%, 3,969), Oceania (up 14%, 7,231), Asia (up 14%, 8,834), and the North America (Canada and Bermuda) up 60% to total 1,342 students.

Many countries that had hosted only a few American students just five years ago are seeing hundreds of students this year, such as China (2,949, up 30%) Brazil (717, up 21%), Cuba (553, up 11%), Egypt (388, up 45%), the Czech Republic (1,248, up 25%) Nepal (389, up 31%), India (811, up 15%), Kenya (695, up 24%) and Vietnam (142, up 50%).

All of the top 12 host countries except Mexico and Costa Rica experienced increased U.S. enrollment. Countries hosting the most American students are: United Kingdom (29, 289 up 6%), Spain (13,974, up 14%), Italy (12,930, up 15%), France (11,924, up 14%), Mexico (7,374, up 0.1%), Australia (6,329, up 18%), Germany (4,744, up 5%), Israel (3,898, up 18%), Ireland (3,810, up 24%), Costa Rica (3,421, down 1%), China (2,949, up 30%) Japan (2,679, up 8%), Austria (2,246, up 20%) Netherlands (1,545, up 5%) and Greece (1,449, up 8%).

The leading fields of study for Americans abroad were social science (20%), business and management (17%), 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 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 international students in the United States since 1949, and with support from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs since the early 1970s. The census is based on a survey of over 2,700 accredited U.S. institutions, with a 92% response. Open Doors also reports on international scholars at U.S. universities and international students enrolled in pre-academic Intensive English Programs, as well as U.S. students studying abroad, based on separate surveys. A full press kit and further details on the surveys and their findings can be accessed on

Open Doors 2001 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 2001 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/College Connections. Call Deborah Gardner/Heidi Reinholdt at 212-734-2190, or e-mail


Media Contact

Sharon Witherell
Director, Public Affairs
Tel: +1 212.984.5380

Shana Childs
Public Affairs
Tel: +1 212.984.5360

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