New Research Shows Study Abroad Officers Concerned Over Growth Expectations

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Insufficient Financial Assistance, Lack of Institutional Support Top List of Barriers to Growth

In 2005, a government-appointed panel known as the Lincoln Commission recommended that one million students should be studying abroad annually by 2016, about a 400-percent increase from existing levels. Is the field of study abroad prepared?

CEA, the leading global marketplace for quality study abroad programs for students, colleges, universities and high schools, released research findings today from its Study Abroad National Challenge Survey which shows that nearly half of study abroad officers in the United States believe that the study abroad field does not have the capacity to absorb an additional 800,000 students in the next 10 years. This fact was confirmed when survey participants were asked how many study abroad students their institution could absorb in the next 10 years and only 24 percent indicated they could handle 2,000 students or more.

“In the face of a federal initiative to build global awareness and the enthusiasm in the field around international education funding, access and development, there is an intensifying need for study abroad providers and offices to wrangle their resources to prepare for the large increases in study abroad enrollment,” said Geoff Bannister, President and Chief Academic Officer for CEA. “The overwhelming onus of managing this growth falls on study abroad offices, which are being called on to find affordable and innovative ways to facilitate these increases.”

Barriers to Growth

When asked about the barriers associated with meeting the one million mark, the leading issue raised by survey respondents was insufficient financial assistance, which 96% of the respondents expressed. Insufficient faculty to assess programs, curriculum and transfers (50%) and safety concerns abroad (48%) also ranked at the top of their lists. Through open-ended remarks, survey participants expressed particular concern about institutional support as a significant barrier with institutional resources (financial, staffing and time) and institutional capacity at home and abroad mentioned most often.

Study Abroad Providers

Last year, of the over 200,000 students studying abroad, only about 20 percent of them attended through independent providers. But it is anticipated that the number could grow. Nearly three-quarters of respondents to the CEA research indicated they think colleges and universities are increasingly turning to outside providers to manage growth of study abroad. When asked about their opinions of third party providers, 74% felt study abroad providers had an overall good reputation while 100% believe they offer quality service. Interestingly, in the midst of field scrutiny over contributions paid to colleges and universities to cover administrative fees, 54% of respondents indicated that providers’ monetary support helps to manage and operate the study abroad office.

CEA’s research, Study Abroad National Challenge Survey, polled 60 study abroad officers from across the country serving small and large populations of study abroad students during the first two weeks of July 2007. CEA will be issuing a more detailed report. To sign up to receive a copy, please email colleen.miller @

About CEA

The nation’s leading global marketplace for quality study abroad programs, CEA offers an unparalleled suite of global education opportunities for students, colleges, universities and high schools. Founded in 1996, CEA has forged partnerships with international universities in 14 countries to offer study abroad in Spain, China, France, Germany and England, among others. In addition, CEA has partnered with the University of New Haven to create the CEA GlobalCampus Network, a collection of sites worldwide designed to provide students with active, hands-on, experiential learning opportunities. For more information, visit .


Steven Shapiro



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