Press Release

Interest in International Educational Exchange Remains Strong in the Aftermath of September 11th According to IIE Survey

WASHINGTON, DC, November 13, 2001—In an online survey recently conducted by the Institute of International Education, 97% of the 600 international education professionals responding said that international education exchange, including study abroad, was regarded as more important or equally as important on their campuses in the aftermath of September 11. That response was part of a survey conducted on IIE's membership website over a two-week time period in late October. The survey findings will be released today in conjunction with the release of Open Doors 2001, IIE's annual report on international educational exchange. The survey provides a snapshot of what impact educators have observed on their campuses in recent weeks.

The survey also suggests that most American students are going ahead with their plans to study abroad and very few international students are dropping out of their U.S. study programs to return home in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The full survey and results are posted on IIE's membership website.

The Institute's annual comprehensive report on international student mobility, Open Doors 2001, shows that a record total of 547,867 international students studied in the United States this year, making higher education one of this country's leading exports and bringing over $11 billion to the U.S. economy. The number of international students increased by over 6% in academic year 2000/01. Study abroad by American students has also been increasing rapidly over the past five years (up 61%), although the total numbers who study abroad still represent a very small percentage of the total U.S. student population. Detailed breakdowns of the report's findings will be available on the Open Doors website (www.opendoorsweb.org) as of November 13.

"The exchange of knowledge and ideas between American citizens and the people of other nations is vital to American higher education and to the prospect of creating a peaceful, more secure world," said Allan E. Goodman, IIE's president and CEO. "With our nation's international education policy being held up to scrutiny in Congress, campuses examining the future of their programs, and crucial decisions being made by students and their families every day, we felt it was important to get a quick but far-reaching view of the impact of current world events on students who are studying outside of their own countries."

According to Dr. Goodman, "The student advisors, program providers and other professionals who are participating in the new IIENetwork on-line community have overwhelmingly indicated that their experience indicates that interest in both study abroad by American students and study in the U.S. by international students has remained strong, and is likely to do so in the coming year. 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, our borders and our markets to the rest of the world, and we must make sure they do not succeed."

Asked about international students who were studying in the United States, 69% of the respondents (379 of the 545 who answered this question) said that they had seen no noticeable change from pre-September 11 enrollment levels, and an additional 28% (153) stated that only a few - less than 10% -- of the international students on their campus or program had decided to leave their programs early and return home, in response to concerns about security. Only 13 educators (1% of respondents) reported seeing more than 10% of the international students leave their programs prematurely following the September 11 events. When asked about students who had not yet arrived on campus as of September 11 to begin the new academic year, approximately 93% (403 of 430 responding) said that few or none changed their plans and decided not to attend after the attacks.

Reporting on their American students who were studying abroad or planning to study abroad for the fall term, 91% (460 of 500 respondents) reported that 90% or more of their students had gone ahead with their study abroad plans. Twenty-nine respondents (5%) estimated that some (11-30%) of their students who had planned to study abroad had cancelled their plans, and 11 educators (2%) said that a substantial number (more than 30% of the students) had cancelled.

Looking ahead to project the impact on future study abroad plans, approximately two-thirds of the educators reported that interest in study abroad had either continued to increase or remained the same on their campus despite recent events. Of the 456 respondents, 136 (29%) saw continued increase in interest, and 177 (38%) reported no visible decline in the number of applications or requests for information on study abroad for the coming term. Nineteen percent reported a slight decline in applications or requests for information for future terms, while 9% saw some decline and 2% saw a substantial (greater than 30%) decline.

These numbers support anecdotal reports that a small number of programs to some locations have been cancelled or have seen students withdraw. Programs that were cancelled were concentrated in areas where there have been substantial public demonstrations against the U.S. such as in the Middle East, South Asia, and Indonesia. But the majority of programs are continuing as scheduled, albeit with a careful examination of security and emergency procedures. In an open discussion on an IIENetwork Community Message Board, campus professionals noted that their students had experienced a great deal of support from people of their host countries and sponsors of their programs, and that there was a noticeable new interest in international issues in general and Islam and its teachings in particular.

While the responses were anonymous, a total of 577 respondents identified themselves as representing institutions as follows: 338 (58%) from universities, 165 (28%) from four-year colleges, 32 (5%) from two-year colleges, 11 (1%) from non-governmental organizations, and 31 (5%) from other types of institutions.

Complete results of the poll and a press kit on major findings of the Open Doors 2001 report can be found on the Open Doors website, IIE's online resource for the international education community. The Open Doors report is published by IIE with support from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State. The Institute of International Education, founded in 1919, is the leading not-for-profit educational and cultural exchange organization in the United States.

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Media Contacts

Sharon Witherell
Director, Public Affairs
Tel: +1 212.984.5380
E-mail: switherell@iie.org

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