Study Abroad Enrollment Projected to Increase for 2010-2011 Academic Year

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IES Abroad annual survey of U.S. colleges & universities shows 17 percent of survey respondents reported that they are increasing institutional financial aid for study abroad program participants.

The optimistic outlook for 2010-2011 study abroad enrollments, despite the current economic conditions, points to the continuing value of international education for American students.

Study abroad enrollment for students at U.S. colleges and universities is projected to increase six percent in 2010-2011 over 2009-2010 numbers, according to the 2010 IES Abroad Membership Survey Report, an annual survey of the 185 top-tier public and private American colleges and universities that comprise the IES Abroad consortium.

In addition, members from private institutions reported that their average study abroad enrollment during the 2009-2010 academic year remained steady, while public institution members reported a 10 percent decrease in enrollments between 2008-2009 and 2009-2010.

Members from private institutions projected their 2010-2011 enrollments to increase by five percent, while public schools members projected a six percent increase.

Economic Impact:
Acknowledging that the current economy may make it more difficult for students to study abroad, 17 percent of the survey respondents reported that they are increasing institutional financial aid for study abroad program participants. Schools are also encouraging students to seek additional non-school-based sources of financial aid (63%), and consider lower-cost programs (29%) and short-term programs (14%).

The current economy caused more schools to improve efficiencies and control costs during the 2009-2010 academic year than they had done during the 2008-2009 academic year. These actions included cutting budgets and travel expenses and instituting hiring freezes. In spite of this, 96 percent of respondents reported that they are not eliminating any study abroad programs and 95 percent reported that they continue to encourage sophomores to study abroad.

“The optimistic outlook for 2010-2011 study abroad enrollments from our member colleges and universities, despite the current economic conditions, and our member schools’ increases in financial aid point to the continuing value of international education for American students in today’s global environment,” said Dr. Mary Dwyer, president and CEO of IES Abroad. “From increasing financial aid by $150,000 to a total of $2.15 million, to expanding our short-term, faculty-led and customized programs, IES Abroad has also taken a number of significant steps to ensure that studying abroad remains accessible to as many students as possible.”

Important Choice Factors:
The survey revealed that study abroad coordinators at IES Abroad member schools consider a study abroad program provider’s commitment to health and safety services the most important criteria for judging the provider. The next most important consideration is the provider’s reputation for academic excellence in its programs. The ability for study abroad program credits to transfer to the home school and apply to the student’s major area of study is another key factor for school advisors as they review study abroad options.

Term and Location Popularity:
Study abroad summer and spring terms remain the most popular among students at U.S. colleges and universities. At public institutions, summer terms attract most students. At private institutions, semester programs are most in demand.

European cities remain the most popular destinations for students seeking study abroad programs, with London attracting more than twice the number of students than any other city. Among non-European sites for study abroad programs, the top three choices are Buenos Aires, Sydney, and Beijing.

IES Abroad, which celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2010, is a global, not-for-profit academic consortium offering study abroad programs to more than 5,400 US college students each year who participate in 92 programs at 32 international locations. IES Abroad offers programs in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, New Zealand and South America. IESabroad.org

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Carol Jambor Smith
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