Press Release

International Educational Exchange Continues to Grow

Increasing numbers of Americans studying abroad and int'l students applying to study in U.S.

New York, September 4, 2002 - One year after the 9/11 attacks, an online survey conducted by the Institute of International Education (IIE) finds that 98% of the approximately 500 international education professionals responding agree that international education exchange, including study abroad, is regarded as more important or equally as important on their campuses. This survey tracks very closely with the results of a similar survey conducted by IIE in October 2001, suggesting that despite political and economic difficulties in the past year, international educational exchange continues to be seen as a critical part of the U.S. higher education experience.

The survey suggests that study abroad is more popular than ever before, and applications and enrollments from international students are steady or rising, despite a few declines from Islamic countries. The survey was conducted on IIE's membership website over a two week period ending August 30, 2002, to provide a snapshot of what impact educators are seeing on their campuses as the new academic year begins. The full survey and a complete analysis of results and number of respondents are posted on

The Institute also publishes the annual Open Doors report on international student mobility, based on a comprehensive annual census conducted with funding from the U.S. Department of State. The most recent data from Open Doors was collected in the year prior to September 11, 2001 and shows that a record total of 547,867 international students studied in the United States in academic year 2000/01, making higher education one of this country's leading exports and bringing over $11 billion to the U.S. economy. Study abroad by American students had also been increasing rapidly over the past five years (up a total of 61%), although the total numbers who study abroad still represent a very small percentage of the total U.S. student population (with 143,590 American students receiving credit for study abroad in academic year 1999/00). Detailed data from the Open Doors 2001 report can be found at (, and findings from this year's report, Open Doors 2002, which contains data collected in fall 2001, will be released on November 18, 2002 as part of International Education Week.

Major Findings of the Electronic Survey for Fall 2002

International educational exchange continues to be seen as more important after September 11, 2001. 98% of the international education professionals responding say that international educational exchange, including study abroad, is regarded as more important (46%) or equally as important (51%) on their campuses in the aftermath of September 11. These findings confirm the initial response of educators polled six weeks after the attacks last fall, when 97% reported that international education was of equal or greater importance on their campus.

"The international education professionals in IIE's on-line community have overwhelmingly indicated that interest in both study abroad by American students and study in the U.S. by international students has remained strong since September 11, and is likely to do so in the coming year," commented IIE president Allan E. Goodman. "This is welcome news, because we believe this is a time when our world needs more international exchange, not less. The terrorists wish to close our minds and our borders to the rest of the world, and we must make sure they do not succeed."

Study abroad is more popular than ever. Looking ahead to project the impact on study abroad plans for the coming term/year (2002-2003), approximately two-thirds of the educators reported that applications for study abroad have either continued to increase or remained the same on their campus. 42% of the respondents saw an increase in the number of US students applying for study abroad for the coming term/year (2002-2003), and 31% reported no noticeable change in the number of applications or requests for information on study abroad for the coming term.

Separately, IIE has also reported a substantial increase in the number of American students applying for the study abroad programs that the Institute administers. The largest increase was a 50% increase in applications for the David L. Boren undergraduate scholarships of the National Security Education Program (NSEP), which provides funding for students going to parts of the world less generally applied for, such as Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. Increases ranging from 10% in Fulbright student applications to a 45% increase in applications for IIE's Global Engineering Education Exchange confirm that the jump in NSEP applications is part of a trend being felt in study abroad offices around the U.S. [For detailed breakdowns, including application numbers for the Benjamin A. Gilman and Freeman-ASIA scholarships, see the Study Abroad backgrounder at]

International student interest continues to increase. Asked about the number of applications from international students for the coming academic term/year (2002-2003), 41% of the respondents report an increase, and 32% report no noticeable change. While it is too early to report final enrollment numbers for the academic year that is just beginning, international student enrollments appear to be steady or rising at this time, with 33% of respondents reporting that the total number of international students enrolled on their campuses have increased since last year and 35% saying they have not seen any noticeable change.

Enrollments by students from selected major Islamic countries are generally holding steady. However, some educators report a dramatic decrease in enrollments by students mainly from Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, and one institution reports a double-digit drop in Indonesian students. The survey questions related to Islamic countries that had been reported in Open Doors to have over 2,000 students in the United States in academic year 2000/01.

Respondents note the following enrollment changes since September 2001 for these countries:

Indonesia: 77% report no noticeable change, 4% report an increase, 16% report a decrease

Malaysia: 84% report no noticeable change, 4% report an increase, 8% report a decrease

Saudi Arabia: 69% report no noticeable change, 6% report an increase, 22% report a decrease

Egypt: 90% report no noticeable change, 1% report an increase, 6% report a decrease

Pakistan: 74% report no noticeable change, 3% report an increase, 20% report a decrease

Kuwait: 82% report no noticeable change, 3% report an increase, 11% report a decrease

UAE: 78% report no noticeable change, 4% report an increase, 15% report a decrease

Discussion. Comments posted to an open discussion on the IIENetwork Community Message Board associated with the survey suggest a number of interesting observations:

Visa Issues. Although international student numbers appear to be continuing to increase, some educators report that their students have experienced delays or difficulties in obtaining their visas, and the respondents expressed concern that this, coupled with possible security concerns, might promote increased interest in students going to Canada, the UK, and Australia as an alternative to the United States.

The Weak Economy. Some educators speculate that occasional declines in study abroad may have more to do with personal finance in light of the U.S. recession than with political or security concerns.

Optimism. Despite some of the above barriers to international education, educators report anecdotally that students have an increased awareness of world events and an increased interest in educational exchange since September 11. Furthermore, discussion participants report very few incidents of discrimination against foreign students, and a strong network of support for the international students on their campuses.

Respondents. While the survey responses were anonymous, a total of 530 respondents identified themselves as representing institutions as follows: 330 (62%) from universities, 119 (22%) from four-year colleges, 31 (5%) from two-year colleges, 18 (3%) from non-governmental organizations, and 32 (6%) from other types of institutions. The total number of responses varied for each question, since educators answered only questions that applied to them.

The Institute of International Education (IIE) is the world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. Its expertise enables institutions and individuals to build capacity in their home countries and regions. IIE designs and implements over 200 programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government and private sources. These programs include the Fulbright Student and Scholar programs and the Humphrey Fellowships, administered for the Department of State, and the Development Training II project administered for the U.S. Agency for International Development, as well as corporate training and scholarship programs. IIE also conducts policy research and provides advice and counseling on international educational opportunities abroad. The Institute of International Education has a network of 19 offices worldwide, nearly 800 college and university members, and more than 5,000 volunteers. Information about IIE can be obtained from IIE's website or by 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