19+ Study Abroad Statistics Every Student Should Know

Have you ever wondered how many students study abroad

Worldwide, nearly five million students are enrolled in higher education institutions outside their country. 

That’s huge! But it’s just one of the mind-blowing study abroad statistics we’ve prepared for you.

The thing is:

Students are increasingly aware of the many professional, social, and personal benefits of studying abroad. Universities offer various short, medium, and long-term programmes for international students who wish to explore a different culture and an exciting new way of life. 

What’s more:

Thanks to social media, students can easily obtain relevant information about the location, programme, school, and country they’re interested in.

Today on Mark in Style, we’re going to look at the most popular places to study abroad and the priorities students are most likely to set when choosing their destination.

Let’s dive right in.

Fascinating Study Abroad Facts and Statistics (Editor’s Choice)

  • Over 4.8 million students are studying abroad at the moment.
  • 55% of US students who study abroad to obtain academic credits do so in Europe.
  • The Fund for Education Abroad Scholarships (FEA) aims to increase the number and diversity of students studying abroad. The current amount of scholarships is up to $5,000 per semester and $10,000 per year.
  • 67% of US students studying abroad are women.
  • International students account for 5.5% of the total number of students in the US.
  • Benefits of studying abroad statistics: 98% of students who study abroad understand their own cultural values better thanks to this experience.
  • When choosing a place to study, 55% of prospective Northern European students give priority to the language.

US Students Studying Abroad Statistics

1. The number of US students studying abroad to obtain academic credits increased by 2.7% in the 2017/2018 academic year. 

(Open Doors)

To find out what percentage of college students study abroad, we looked at the Open Doors report from 2019. It reveals that US undergraduates studying abroad account for 16% of all US students who earn a bachelor’s degree. 

However, only 2.3% of them are pursuing long-term studies. Nearly 65% complete short-term studies (summer, eight weeks, or less). According to the study abroad statistics for 2017, the number of US students studying abroad for a year has declined.

2. 55% of US students who study abroad for academic credit do so in Europe.

(Open Doors)

The Institute of International Education (IIE) monitors and reports on US study abroad statistics. According to one of its recent studies, the number of students placed in Europe has increased by a whopping 27% in the last ten years

Key takeaway:

Europe is the most popular study abroad destination for Americans studying abroad. 

[bctt tweet=”American students study abroad mostly in the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Spain, and Germany. ” via=”no”]

However, the dominance of Europe as the leading destination for studying abroad is slowly eroding. 

Here’s why:

The growth rate of American students studying in Asia has increased by 33%, while the number of students studying in South America and the Caribbean has increased by 27% over the last decade

Keep in mind, though, that the strongest growth is in the number of students studying abroad in multiple locations.

3. 67% of US students studying abroad are women.

(Open Doors)

Of the total number of college students in the US, about one in ten students study abroad during their studies, and about two-thirds are female. Women make up 57% of US college students, and that gap is expected to widen in the next ten years.

The history of study abroad shows that this is a continuing trend, and changing demographics could be the reason for this phenomenon. This gives us the answer to the question of why female college students travel abroad more often than male students.

4. The racial and ethnic diversity of US students studying abroad has improved from 18% to 30% in the last decade.

(Open Doors)

The statistics about study abroad show that the racial and ethnic diversity of US students has improved significantly over the course of the last decade. 

That being said:

The majority of US students studying abroad are still white. Although there are many advantages to studying abroad, only 25% of all US students enrolled in a study abroad programme are from ethnic minorities. 

As a result, a large portion of the student population is excluded from access to the benefits of study abroad.

5. 26% of US study abroad students are STEM majors.

(Open Doors)

The percentage of students who study abroad in this area is still underrepresented compared to the other large groups. 

The other main contenders are: 

  • Business and Management 21% 
  • Social Science 17%
  • Foreign Languages & International Studies 7%
  • Fine & Applied Arts 6.3%

Studying Abroad Statistics: International Student Mobility

6. 46.7% of the total number of students in Luxembourg in 2017 were international.


The study abroad statistics by country show Luxembourg is the most hospitable and welcoming country for international students. The other countries in the top five list of countries that welcome international students are: 

  • Australia 21.5%
  • New Zealand 19.6%
  • UK 17.9%
  • Switzerland 17.8%

However, these study abroad facts only provide information on the proportion of international students compared to the total number of students in the country. 

So, if you want to know where to study abroad, you should take into account the actual number of international students per country when analysing statistics on studying abroad.

Which brings us to the next stat:

7. International students account for 5.5% of the total number of students in the US, or about 1 million students.

(Open Doors, IECF, UNESCO)

Although 5.5% may not seem like much, the US has indeed hosted the most international students worldwide, studying abroad statistics confirm. 

Australia is the second most popular destination, with 758,154 international students last year. 28% of the total number came from China

The other leading hosts are China, the UK, and Canada, as we can see from the study abroad facts.

All in all:

Last year, 4,854,364 students worldwide were enrolled at universities outside their country. Students from China and India have the highest outbound rate of student mobility. 

In the United States, Chinese students take up the largest portion of international students.

Study Abroad Statistics: Trends by Region  

study abroad statistics

8. 55% of prospective Northern European students give priority to the language when choosing a place to study.


Students take many factors into account when deciding where to study abroad. 

According to the latest study abroad research, students who want to study abroad in Northern Europe first decide on their country of residence, then on the courses of study, and, finally, on the university. This is the most common way.


Prospective students who are interested in this region are well aware of the career benefits of studying abroad. The survey results indicate that students are increasingly interested in career services during their international studies and in work visas after graduation.

9. Prospective South American students are 59% more likely to give priority to the cost of living when choosing their place of study.


The selection process for South American prospective students begins with the selection of the programme, followed by the choice of country, and university at the end. 

Prospective students are less interested in the recommendations of other students and are mainly interested in the cost of living. They also give priority to the academic benefits of studying abroad and consider the general reputation and rank of the university rather than the career outcomes.


10. Prospective Southeast Asian students are 47% more likely to give priority to safety reputation when choosing a study location.


Prospective Southeast Asian students tend to take practical factors into account when it comes to studying abroad. 

Among other things, they are interested in a career-oriented, financed study programme and take into account the friendliness and inviting character of the location.

Additionally, Southeast Asian students are more concerned about entry requirements than in other regions. Students from this region not only consider the career benefits of studying abroad but also take into account the study abroad safety statistics.

11. South American students are 45 % more likely to cite making new friends as an influence.


South American students are 11% less likely to cite access to higher quality education as an influence. They are more likely to be influenced by the availability of lifestyle/leisure activities. 

Tuition fees, on the other hand, are an increasing concern for South American students when choosing their study programme.

12. Western European students are 19% more likely to cite experiencing a new culture as an influence.


When selecting future study locations abroad, Western European students first choose the programme, then most likely the country, and, finally, the school. Work placement opportunities are increasingly seen as an attractive benefit of studying abroad

Other study abroad benefits for prospective Western European students include experiencing a new culture and personal development, making friends and connections, and obtaining a work visa after graduation.

General Statistics on Study Abroad 


13. 72% of students are more likely to use social media to find out how studying abroad works.


Before the rise of social media, students looked for information on studying abroad at fairs and events. But today, students are 8% less likely to be informed about studying abroad through study abroad fairs and events. 

On the other hand: 

They are 15% more likely to rely on search engines and 72% more likely to rely on social media to inform themselves about the process. So, if you want to find out how does studying abroad work, you can do so from the comfort of your sofa.

14. 81% of students expect a personalised email with specific information to answer their questions.


Only 19% of students expect a generic email with links to relevant information from the university. All other students expect a personalised email with specific information to answer their questions. 


Depending on the university and its strategy, you may or may not receive a personalised email. In any case, universities are making more and more information available online, which makes it easier to access the answers to the most frequently asked questions.

15. 43% of students expect an answer within one day of their request.


These figures say a lot about what students expect from communication in university admissions in terms of responsiveness. Students who are interested in studying abroad expect universities to be able to communicate easily and quickly with those responsible. 

Here’s the deal:

While 40% expect a response within a week, 43% of students expect a response within a day. Only 17% of students expect an answer within two weeks.

16. 50% of students cite scholarships as having more influence on their decision making.


Key factors for students choosing a course of study are the curriculum, admission requirements, and detailed programme information

Additionally, 26% of prospective undergraduate students are more likely to cite unique programme factors as influencing factors. Post-graduate students, on the other hand, cite photos showing the programme experience and visual information as very important.

17. The importance of campus facilities has increased by 56% for prospective students.


For one thing, the ranking and reputation of the school are losing importance. 

For another, the quality of teaching and the cost of living are increasingly mentioned and appreciated as more important. 

And that’s not all:

[bctt tweet=”The importance of campus facilities has increased by 56% and housing by an astonishing 182%. ” via=”no”]

Obviously, there are many different aspects that students take into account when choosing where to study abroad. Keep in mind that many factors are assessed and prioritised differently in different regions.

Erasmus Programme Exchange Stats: The Benefits of Studying Abroad

The European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students, usually referred to simply as the Erasmus Programme, is a European Union student exchange programme established in 1987

It enables students to study at EU member-state universities for a set period of time, usually one semester or one academic year.

Let’s see what the stats have to say about it: 

18. 90% of Erasmus students reported an improvement in their soft skills, study abroad statistics reveal.

(European Commission)

Students benefit greatly from mobility and improve their soft skills, among other things. 

Knowledge of other countries, the ability to interact and work with people from other cultures, adaptability, knowledge of foreign languages, and communication skills are among these. 

According to the study abroad statistics for 2016, nine in ten Erasmus students reported an improvement in these areas.

Which brings us to the $64,000 questions:

“Do employers value study abroad?”

They clearly do, judging by the following numbers:

19. 64% of employees say university graduates with an international background are given greater professional responsibility.

(European Commission)

Studying abroad influences students’ professional careers. In addition to improving their skills, mobility also influences employment rates

Check this out:

[bctt tweet=”Graduates who studied abroad are only half as likely to be at risk of long-term unemployment as those who did not do so. ” via=”no”]

The thing is:

Even five years after graduation, the unemployment rate of mobile students was 23% lower than that of non-mobile students. Furthermore, Erasmus alumni were 44% more likely to hold senior management positions.

20. 27% of Erasmus alumni met their current partner during their stay abroad.

(European Commission)

In addition to improving students’ skills and positively influencing their employability, the benefits of study abroad also extend to social life. 33% of Erasmus alumni had a life partner of a different nationality, which is three times more than for non-mobile alumni.


Study abroad trends show that students in different regions have different priorities when choosing where to go. 

Some put the cost of living first, others the school’s reputation. Still others are primarily interested in what the location has to offer in terms of culture and leisure activities, study abroad statistics confirm. 

One thing is clear, though:

Students are travelling like never before. Chinese students are the most mobile, while US college students studying abroad are most likely to choose European countries for their semester or year abroad. 

Whatever their destination:

The fact that more and more students are signing up for study abroad programmes is great news! 

Bottom line:

Travel broadens the mind, and a lengthier spell in a foreign culture and educational system brings numerous benefits. 







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