U.S. Compensates for Overseas Enrollment by Recruiting Abroad

June 22nd, 2013 No Comments News

According to a new report from the Institute of International Education (IIE), of the more than 46,500 U.S. students who pursue full degrees abroad, about 84 percent are enrolled in Bachelor’s or master’s degrees and 16 percent are pursuing doctoral degrees.

The top fields for degree study by U.S. students abroad are the humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences. Field preferences vary by level of study and host country. The figures in the report do not include the number of U.S. students who receive academic credit for study abroad from institutions within the U.S.

The IIE report presented findings from a 2-year analysis of key destinations and fields of study of U.S. students who choose to pursue degree programs abroad. The Survey on U.S. Students Enrolled Overseas in Degree-Seeking Programs was administered from May-April 2013 by IIE, the U.S. partner and Secretariat for Project Atlas®, a global network of 27 country and research partners collaborating on data collection and research in student mobility.

Data on U.S. degree students was received for 14 countries from Project Atlas partners representing four world regions: Asia, Europe, Oceania, and North America. The countries that submitted data include the largest host of U.S. degree-seeking students, the United Kingdom, and a dozen other countries that host 100 or more U.S. degree-seeking students.

In an effort to compensate for its own losses, the U.S. is turning its attention to recruiting more students from foreign institutions. At a conference held last week by the NAFSA: Association of International Educators, officials focused on identifying “the next big thing” (or place) in international student recruitment, drawing on data from the College Board and the experiences of recruiters at two different types of institutions.

“China and India have been top of mind,” said Clay Hensley, director of international relations and strategy for the College Board. Saudi Arabia too, where, due to the King Abdullah Foreign Scholarship Program, the numbers of students coming to the U.S. increased by 50 percent last year. But Hensley and his co-presenters focused on other potentially emerging destinations, in four regions or subregions: South America, particularly Brazil and Ecuador; West Africa, especially Nigeria and Ghana; the Greater Mekong, including Vietnam and Thailand; and other countries in the Persian Gulf aside from Saudi Arabia, notably Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Lin Larson, a senior international specialist at the University of California at Berkeley, says Berkeley is seeing significant numbers of Vietnamese transfer students who are beginning at California community colleges. And, beyond the Mekong, Larson said she was excited about the potential of the Philippines. “Talking to people, the hotel workers, the taxi drivers, the shopkeepers [on a recent visit], that economy is just ready to go,” she said.

Webster University, a St. Louis-based institution with branch campuses around the world, is trying a different tack, opening a new campus in Accra his fall. “There are a lot of talented students there. They’re very much looking for a U.S.-style education, but they do not have the funding to come to the United States,” said Calvin Smith, Webster’s director of international recruitment and services.

Hensley closed the session by describing broad trends in international recruitment, including the key role of government-sponsored scholarship programs in influencing mobility trends. A new plan by the Japanese government is in the works to provide funds for short-term study abroad. Japanese students make up the seventh-largest group of international students in the U.S., but their numbers have been on a 15-year decline.


Saga has taught and tutored writing at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels. Her educational interests include psychology, creativity, and system reform. She earned a B.A. in Creative Writing from Oberlin College and lives in Portland, Oregon, USA.

You can reach her on Google+, @sagamilena or saga.briggs@gmail.com.

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