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Can We Double Study Abroad?

What Would It Take?

Open Doors 2013 reports that over the past five years, the growth in study abroad has increased only by 17%. Given this slow growth, what would it take to double the numbers by the end of the decade? 

Growth Rate Needed to Double: The snapshot below indicates that a 12.5% growth rate per year is needed to reach the goal of 600,000 students studying in credit and noncredit programs by the end of the decade.

The rate of growth needed to double U.S. Study Abroad

  • Given the large representation of “medium-size” study abroad institutions (sending 100-499 students abroad), and assuming that most of these institutions already have an internal infrastructure to promote and support study abroad, medium-sized institutions have the greatest potential to increase study abroad in a substantial way. If medium-size study abroad institutions double the number of students who study abroad, that would generate an additional 100,000 U.S. students abroad.
  • There are approximately 1,100 community colleges in the United States.  If every community college sent 36 students abroad (which is the Open Doors average for community college study abroad), that would generate an additional 40,000 U.S. students abroad.
  • Public institutions have fewer study abroad students on average than do private not-for-profit institutions of a comparable size, ranging from 56-78% fewer students on average than private not-for-profit. If public institutions matched the average number of study abroad students of private not-for-profit institutions, that would generate an additional 270,000 U.S. students abroad.
  • Approximately 89% of Open Doors respondents have undergraduate study abroad participation rates below 50%. Those institutions account for 80% of all undergraduates who study abroad. If all institutions with undergraduate participation rates lower than 50% double their study abroad students, that would generate an additional 180,000 U.S. students abroad.

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