Despite security concerns stemming from the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, more college students are studying abroad, while the number of foreign students choosing to attend U.S. schools similarly rises.
The Chicago-based Institute for the International Education of Students reported an increase in enrollment for its Europe, Asia, Latin America and Australia programs. This fall, the institute has enrolled 902 students into one-semester programs, a 14 percent jump from a year earlier. Another 768 students have engaged in full-year programs, representing a 2 percent gain during the same time period.
“We’re part of a national trend,” said Michael Hinden, associate dean of the International Studies department, in reference to the University of Wisconsin. “Our numbers have continued to climb steadily over the past 10 years.”
Hinden noted a large increase of over 10 percent from the 2000-01 academic year to the 2002-03 year.
“This is a very encouraging sign considering the national atmosphere and what happened,” Hinden added.
The New York Times reported that the 50 public universities responding to a survey by the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges had 25,302 undergraduates from outside the United States, an increase of 1.4 percent over last year. Also, the same report indicated a 7.1 percent increase in the number of graduate students from outside the United States.
Hinden said he believes a more competitive workforce is one reason for the increase in applications to study abroad.
“More and more students want to benefit from overseas experiences and employers place high premiums on those students with international experience,” he said.
The only region U.S. students are straying from is the Middle East. In the past year, applications for study abroad programs to Arab nations have decreased by 60 percent. At the same time, a number of Arab students who attended school for one year before Sept. 11, 2001 were unable to obtain visas and not allowed to return to the United States after returning home.
Another report, also administered by the Institute of International Education, reveals India is now the country that sends the most students to U.S. colleges. India sent 66,836 students with China, the previous leader, sending out 63,211 students.
“It’s really a surprise to me,” Hinden said. “Traditionally at UW, the number of students from India has been very close to that of China.”
Michigan State University sent more students abroad than any other U.S. institution with 1,835 of its students leaving the country. Second was the University of Texas with 1,633 and third was New York University with 1,471.
Hinden said UW’s European programs were the most popular among students.
“Europe remains the most popular program. Many students go there after being in a language program at UW,” he said. “In addition to Europe, we have over 70 program sites on six continents.”