In 2013, nearly 300,000 students studied abroad from the United States, a number that represents about 1% of all U.S. students enrolled at institutions of higher education in the United States and under 10% percent of U.S. graduates (according to NAFSA).

The White House thinks we can do better.

As a point of comparison, there are more Chinese students studying in American universities than there are American students studying worldwide.


The White House has created a Bureau of Educational + Cultural Affairs, a new department dedicated to study abroad. The Bureau will encourage more students to study abroad, provide information on grants that exist for students studying abroad and encourage students to study in new destinations, including: South East Asia, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Currently, 65% of students that go abroad from the United States go to Europe.

The White House thinks we can go further and wider.

Four Students Walking on Campus

Colleges and universities worldwide have also been putting a stronger focus on the benefits of study abroad, and in some cases, making it mandatory. The reasons for doing so are multifold. Employers today are looking for resumes to include cultural experiences; 88 percent of students travelers cited travel abroad as a differentiator that helped them get their job and 75 percent cited travel abroad as having an affect on their career path. In addition to the benefits study abroad has on a student’s career path, students also cite maturity, self-confidence, gaining a global perspective, understanding different cultures and learning new languages as additional benefits.

One of the reasons some students may not think they can feasibly study abroad is the economics. In fact, many students find that the tuition at international institutions is actually significantly cheaper than that of their home institution. There are also student fares available specifically for students to save on flights to get to their international destination and grants that students can apply for to help subsidize the cost of the entire experience.

If you are interested in learning more about student study abroad patterns, benefits and the newly formed White House Bureau, listen to a segment from the Frommer’s travel show yesterday featuring our CEO (from the 19:25 mark until 27:22).

We commend the White House for their recognition of the importance of the study abroad experience in preparing our youth for a global workplace and community.

Do you think this initiative will increase the number of U.S. students going abroad?

Would you consider studying in South East Asia, Latin America or Sub-Saharan Africa?


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About Danielle Dougan