Every year, thousands of students from across the globe leave the comforts of their own home to study abroad. No matter what motivates them—to attend a world-class institution, to learn a language, to conduct research, to experience a different culture—these individuals will all gain important skills and knowledge that can help them succeed in a globalized 21st century.
The United States and the European Union both realize the importance of studying abroad. Exposing our future leaders to each other’s culture and traditions, and having our young citizens interact with each other fosters strong networks and enhanced understanding and cooperation. For this reason, the U.S. and the EU actively support student exchanges through initiatives such as the Fulbright-Schuman grants and the new Fulbright-Schuman innovation grant programs.
Many prominent scholars and world leaders, including Henry Kissinger, Milton Friedman, and Joseph Stiglitz, have studied abroad through the Fulbright program. The current United States Ambassador to the European Union, Anthony L. Gardner, spent significant time abroad as a student and often emphasizes how important his experiences have been in his career.
The “2016 Open Doors Report”, released at the beginning of the International Education Week (IEW), demonstrates that the number of exchange students between the U.S. and Europe has increased in the last academic year on both sides of the Atlantic, thereby continuing the recent positive trend.
The 2016 Open Doors Report shows that Europe remains the most popular region for Americans to study abroad. More than half of all 313,415 Americans studying abroad in 2014/15 (54.5 percent) traveled to Europe. This number is also 5.2 percent higher than the previous academic year and 37.5 percent higher than a decade ago. Europe dwarfs the next most popular regions. Latin America and Caribbean (16 percent) is the second most popular destination followed by Asia (11.4 percent). The most popular European destinations for American students are The United Kingdom (38,189 students), Spain (28,325 students), France (18,198 students), Germany (11,010 students), and Ireland (10,230 students).
Meanwhile, the number of students from Europe studying in the United States has also increased by 1.4 percent in 2015/16 compared to the previous year and an eight percent increase since 2009/2010. At this time, there are 91,915 Europeans studying in the United States or 8.8 percent of all international students at U.S. institutions. 12.6 percent come from the United Kingdom (11,599 students), 11.6 percent from Turkey (10,691), 11.0 percent from Germany (10.145 students), and 9.5 percent from France (8,764 students).
The United States and European Union will continue to advance international student exchanges in the future in order to enhance the already strong relationships and understanding.