The New York Times by Joyce Lau
American students are twice as likely as their British counterparts to consider foreign study, according to a new report.
While 56 percent of students in the United States said they’d like to head overseas, only 20 percent of young Britons said the same. The perceived barriers were largely the same: students from both nations felt they didn’t have adequate information about options, and were also worried about finances, visas and homesickness. On the other hand, most did not see language barriers as a big deal.
Their goals were slightly different, though. British students considered overseas studies for professional reasons, while Americans were seeking fun, travel and the chance to explore other cultures.
The “Broadening Horizons” report by Education Intelligence, the British Council’s research arm, worked with the National Union of Students in the United Kingdom and Zinch in the United States to poll 10,000 students.
Of course, what people say they want to do in polls and what they actually end up doing are different matters.
Many American students may say that they would like to go overseas. But according to the Institute of International Education, only 1 percent of U.S. students study abroad during any academic year. (About 14 percent of U.S. undergraduates have studied abroad at some time.)
In comparison, the European Commission estimates that about 10 percent of European students are currently studying abroad. They do so largely thanks to financing from programs like Erasmus, but also because for most Europeans a handful of different countries are all within a few hours of home.
While statistics vary on the details of who ends up where, the larger picture is clear: More students are crossing borders than ever before. According to Unesco, there are 3.4 million students on the move each year all over the world, and that number is expected to grow.
The mass migration has divided the world into “receiving nations” (mostly rich, Western, immigrant-heavy nations that import students) and “sending nations” (mostly developing nations that export students). Traditional receiving nations are seeing record-high inflows of foreign students: United States (more than 700,000), Britain (more than 430,000) and Canada (more than 100,000). Meanwhile, the major sending nations are still generally in Asia: China, India and South Korea top the list.
But that line is blurring. China, the biggest sending nation, is also receiving more than 260,000 foreign students a year, according to the Ministry of Education.
Have you studied overseas, or thought about it? What would stop you from going — and what would push you to make the leap?