According to Open Doors®, published annually by the Institute of International Education (IIE) in partnership with the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the overall number of Americans studying abroad for credit has more than doubled in 15 years. In 1998/99 there were 129,770 US Students who studied abroad, and in 2015/16, the most recent data year, there were 325,339. Leading destinations of US study abroad students are United Kingdom (39,140 students in 2015/16), Italy (34,894), and Spain (296,975).
According to OECD's Education at a Glance 2016 report, The number of foreign students enrolled in tertiary education programs worldwide has exploded over the past two decades. It rose from 2 million in 1999 to 5 million in 2016. This remarkable expansion stems from an interest in promoting academic, cultural, social and political ties among countries. The internationalization of labor markets for highly skilled people has given students an incentive to gain international experience as part of their higher education.
Europe is the top destination for students at the tertiary level of education enrolled outside their country of origin, followed by North America, and Asia.
Even if U.S. Study Abroad has increased dramatically over the past two decades, the majority of Americans still graduate from college without ever having studied abroad. A study by the American Council on Education, Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses, found that in 2012, 42% of the U.S. higher education institutions surveyed had not sent any of their undergraduate students abroad, and 36% had sent less than 5% abroad.
The same study pointed out that only 54% of the surveyed U.S. higher education institutions administered undergraduate study abroad programs for credit in the Academic Year 2010-2011, and that 60% did not have a full-time administrator overseeing or coordinating multiple internationalization activities or programs.
Study abroad is a learning opportunity enabling students to develop critical skills and contributes in vital ways to prepare students for the competitive global environment into which they will graduate. The State Department has launched several initiatives to increase the number of American students studying abroad to certain regions of the world. One of those initiatives is Generation Study Abroad, a five-year program of the Institute of International Education (IIE) to mobilize resources and commitments with the goal of doubling the number of U.S. students studying abroad by the end of the decade.
Benedictine College's Florence semester program, approaching its 10-year anniversary Fall, 2016 has earned a 4.7-star rating on studyabroad101.com.
Students who have participated in the program said they gained a greater cultural awareness and appreciation, learned to live on a budget, gained self-confidence, forged new friendships, and a greater understanding of the world.
Students also attested that they gained strengthened language skills and a widened worldview.
Several stated they felt more marketable, independent, comfortable in foreign environments, and more confident in their travel abilities after having studied abroad.
Many small and mid-size private colleges do not have the critical mass, training, and resources to create and administer their own study abroad programs. Some of them form affiliations with study abroad providers, and, in many of these cases, the home institution hands the student tuition over to the study abroad provider without tuition retention for the institution. In addition, third-party study abroad providers offer packages that may not be tailored to small institutions specific needs and charge high program fees that make their programs too expensive and unapproachable for low-income students.
WorldBound Learning Projects provides services to small to medium-sized colleges seeking to offer their students study abroad opportunities by helping them design and administer study abroad programs that fit the college's mission and goals at an affordable cost for both the institution as well as the students.