IIE Blog Opening Minds
IIE Blog Opening Minds

A New Open Doors for a New World

By: Christine Farrugia and Rajika Bhandari on Friday, March 27, 2015

The Institute of International Education has been collecting and disseminating comprehensive and reliable data on international academic mobility since the Institute was founded in 1919. For nearly 70 years IIE has been publishing this information annually as the Open Doors® Report on International Educational Exchange*.

Mobility Data in 1922 IIE Annual ReportThroughout the history of Open Doors, some things have remained constant in the landscape of international education. For 70 years, the United States has consistently remained the world’s top destination for international students. In 1926, China was the largest sender of international students to the United States, accounting for 19 percent of the nearly 7,000 international students, and the University of California and Columbia University were among the largest host institutions. In 2013/14, China was again the top country of origin, and the University of California and Columbia University were still among the top hosts of international students.

While some things have stayed the same, the world has changed dramatically. IIE reported two students from Mesopotamia and 34 from Siam in 1922, and in the same year, Alaska and Hawaii, which were not yet U.S. states, sent 12 students and 97 students to the United States, respectively. Today’s world continues to evolve and the years 2013 and 2014 saw many changes in our field of international student mobility. Globally, the numbers of students studying abroad grew to 4.5 million. Here in the United States the numbers of international students continue to rise, approaching one million students. Meanwhile, governments aspiring to build their next generation of leaders continued to invest significantly in scholarship programs that send their nationals abroad. During this time period we saw the expansion of the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program as well as increased investment in these types of initiatives by many Middle Eastern nations such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, and Oman.

But this overall growth and sense of optimism is not without challenges. At the U.S. end, while the numbers of Americans going abroad increased, it was a lower rate of growth than before, a trend that prompted the Institute of International Education to launch the Generation Study Abroad® initiative in early 2014. Global political, economic and social problems continued to drive students out of their home countries to other safer havens for a higher education. And persistent questions about diversity and student access to international education remain unresolved challenges that bear on students’ opportunities and educational successes, as well as on economic and social development across the globe.

Open Doors report covers, 1955 and 2014International education is changing and evolving rapidly, and so must our documentation and analysis of the field. To address the changing world of international education, this year IIE’s research team has revamped the Open Doors 2014 Report on International Educational Exchange. In this new and improved report you will find a more analytical and contextualized examination of what our latest Open Doors data tell us about academic mobility vis-à-vis the United States, whether it is student flows into and out of the United States or the inbound mobility of international scholars. In addition, we draw upon Project Atlas®—a global complement to Open Doors—to shed light on how mobility trends are unfolding in other parts of the world. In doing so and in looking at various world regions, we focus not just on the mobility and exchange between the United States and a particular region, but also on emerging mobility patterns between that region and other parts of the world—a dynamic that is often neglected and overshadowed by the discussion of South-North mobility or vice versa.

For our readers seeking the detailed, descriptive data typically contained in past Open Doors reports, all of the information is still available in the current report in comprehensive data tables in the publication’s appendices and also online. We invite you to explore the special topics presented in the report that range from the implications of international high school mobility for postsecondary education in the United States, to the critical issue of measuring the long-term impact of student mobility on individuals, institutions and society.

We hope you share our enthusiasm for this new version of the report and look forward to your feedback and comments.

The Open Doors 2014 Report on International Educational Exchange is now available. To order your copy, please visit the IIE Bookstore.

* Open Doors is produced by the Institute of International Education with the support of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.

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  • Christopher Cregar said:
    4/11/2015 3:39 PM

    I found it interesting that you pointed out that for the past 70 years, the U.S. has been the top destination for international students. I have always found this a strange juxtaposition with the constant issues in education that are found in K through 12 in the U.S.

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About Opening Minds

For more than nine decades, the Institute of International Education has been at the forefront of international education. The Opening Minds blog is IIE’s take on how this field continues to change. Here the Institute’s leaders will explore international educational exchange, global student mobility, institutional partnerships, international development, and other topics and trends that are shaping higher education around the world.


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