China and U.S. study abroad programs: update

In one of my posts about a year ago, China and U.S. study abroad programs (Pinyin News, Nov. 23, 2008), I noted that China had become the fifth most popular destination for U.S. students in study abroad programs.

More recent data show that the China has remained in fifth place. In fact, the order in the top ten list has not changed, though the figures for each of the countries have increased.

Top 10 destinations for study abroad by U.S. students in the 2006-07 and 2007-08 school years
China shown as the fifth most popular destination for study abroad. The top destination is the U.K., followed by Italy, Spain, and France. See the link to my source material for the actual numbers.

Growth for China as a destination, however, remained strong, at 19.0 percent, while study abroad as a whole increased 8.5 percent. Top growth, however, belonged to India, followed by Austria, then China, and Ireland. If China continues to grow at such rates as a destination, it could knock France out of fourth place in a few years, which would be a dramatic development.

10 highest growth rates for destinations for study abroad by U.S. students (comparing the 2007-08 school year with the 2006-07 school year)

China now accounts for 5 percent of U.S. study abroad, which has helped Asia’s overall growth as a destination region.

Percent of study abroad performed in Asia, 1996-2007
chart showing percentage of study abroad in Asia flat at about 6% from 1996-2000, with growth increasing since 2003 to the present 11.1% for the 2007-08 school year

Some predictions for the next installment:

  • Economic woes are probably going to reduce the rate of study abroad, though that may benefit China, relatively speaking, as students opt for it over more expensive destinations like the U.K. and France.
  • Terrorism could affect India’s numbers, though I expect them to continue to increase dramatically over the long term.
  • And should China reevaluate its currency, that could slow its growth as a destination for U.S. students.

source: Open Doors Report 2009

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