The 2020/2021 Open Doors Report issued by the Institute of International Education (IIE) provides some invaluable insights on study abroad trends, which can help those pursuing a business degree advance further.

Why do study abroad trends matter?

Collecting and analysing data in any field can derive important insights and draw trends that call for action. The education sector is no exception.

The IIE Open Doors initiative is one of the field’s leaders in terms of gathering in-depth data on study abroad trends to help prospective students and experts improve education services and student experiences globally.

So, let’s find out more about the latest data from 2020/2021 and how these findings might shape higher education trends in the upcoming years.

International students in the US

Home to top-ranking schools, the US remains one of the most popular choices among international students, according to the IIE 2020/2021 Open Doors Report. From Stanford to Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, it’s no wonder that the US keeps drawing students from across the globe. Regardless of the slight decline of 15% in applicants compared to the previous couple of years, more than 914,000 international students enrolled at US educational institutions in the quest for better career prospects.

Out of these, about 317,000 international students were from China, making it the country that sends the most students to the US. A considerable percentage of internationals were Indian citizens, accounting for roughly 167,000 students. Looking at the different regions analysed in the 2020/2021 report, it’s interesting to note that more than 25,000 students were from Canada, 12,860 from Nigeria, and 14,000 from Brazil. The UK and Turkey were the European countries to send the most students to the US.

Yet, there were some notable movements in regions with native English-speaking applicants: a 25.4% decrease in students from the UK and a 27.3% year on year decrease in students from Australia.

Perhaps it doesn’t come as a surprise that once again, Engineering, Math and Computer Science, and Business and Management were the top three choices for those interested in studying in the US – with 190,590, 182,106 and 145,658 international students in 2020/2021, respectively.

The most popular institution remains the New York University, hosting 17,050 international students, followed by Northeast University – Boston and Columbia University. It’s worth noting that for 2020/2021, the state of California is still home to the top leading host institutions on the West Coast.

Read more: 5 Trends in Higher Education to Look Out for in 2022

US students studying abroad

While the US is undoubtedly a top choice among internationals, it’s also a fact that the States sends a significant number of students abroad. Despite the large decline in US applicants interested in international degrees over the past few years, the latest data reveal that more than 162,000 US students decided to broaden their perspectives and career prospects overseas.

Europe remains a preferred destination for American students, with Spain and the UK having hosted the most US students – about 19,700 and 19,100 in total, respectively. Based on the latest study abroad trends and data, Australia is also a top choice among US students interested in going abroad. 

When it comes to fields of study, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Business and Management, and Social Sciences are the top three choices for US students studying abroad. These fields have attracted 24.5%, 20.8%, and 19.2% applicants, respectively.

It is interesting to mention that not many US students complete their studies abroad. In 2019/2020, 62.5% of US students studied abroad for one semester, while 15.9% studied overseas for eight weeks or less during the academic year. We should also acknowledge that for another year, the majority of reported US students abroad were women, accounting for 67.4%.

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Study abroad trends and the future for education

While the latest 2020/2021 Open Doors study abroad trends reveal a decline in international students enrolling at US institutions, as well as US students studying abroad, we can conclude that student mobility remains a key factor in education.  

Despite the ongoing pandemic, political conflicts and economic crises globally, students’ passion for knowledge and self-improvement persists. So what will the next IIE Open Doors Report reveal?

Stay tuned!