Beyond Borders: Measuring Academic Mobility between the United States and Mexico

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Although robust data exists on the academic mobility of students and scholars between the United States and Mexico, many of the new mobility initiatives encompass educational activities that are outside the scope of current data collection projects. Mexico’s Patlani project and the U.S.-based Open Doors®, conducted by the Institute of International Education (IIE) with the support of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, together provide a thorough representation of the majority of the academic mobility that occurs between the two counties. However, existing data collection efforts do not fully document the range and diversity of the various forms of mobility that are growing in popularity, including internships, student research placements, summer study, non-credit language courses, and other forms of non-credit education abroad.

To address the gaps between what is currently measured through existing data collection projects and the new forms of mobility that are growing in scale, the IIE Center for Academic Mobility Research and Impact was commissioned by the United States Embassy in Mexico City to analyze the full scope of academic mobility between the United States and Mexico. The analyses in this report encompass mobility flows in both directions and across a broad range of mobility types, including higher education, secondary students, vocational/technical, language training, scholars, and other exchange visitors. The study’s findings on U.S.-Mexico academic mobility focus on the growth in higher education mobility; mobility flows in all segments over the course of the academic year; and the mobility patterns of students by U.S. states, program characteristics, and institutional types. These analyses are intended to inform assessments of the success of U.S. and Mexican government initiatives to increase mobility in both directions, as well as to provide information to inform ongoing efforts to strengthen U.S.-Mexico mobility. This report covers the mobility of Mexican students, scholars, and exchange visitors during the 2014/15 academic year and the mobility of U.S. students to Mexico in 2013/14.