Higher Education: From Home to Abroad

One thing that I would like to see change in the future of higher education is the access to study abroad opportunities for U.S. students. According to a 2015 report from the Institute of International Education (IIE), only 1 in 10 U.S. students, or approximately 10%, participates in study abroad as an undergraduate. This figure is the total number of U.S. students worldwide. undergraduate-participation-in-us-study-abroad

Let’s compare this to some figures from the same report regarding international students from specific countries and their percentage of students studying in just the U.S. China contributes 31.5%. Inda contributes 15.9%. Saudi Arabia contributes 5.9%. South Korea contributes 5.8%. We can extrapolate from these figures that the number of U.S. students participating in study abroad is most likely dwarfed by the worldwide numbers from other countries.

So where do U.S. students typically go for their study abroad experience? The same report shows that 55% of U.S. students study abroad in Europe. The next highest percentage goes to Latin America and the Caribbean at 16%.


At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that I would like to see accessibility to study abroad programs change. Accessibility for me is the ability for students to participate in study abroad programs. Let me take the time to address some figures from the 2015 IIE report before diving into the accessibility issue. Of all U.S. students participating in study abroad, 66.6% identified as female and 33.4% identified as male. In regards to race and ethnicity, 72.9% identified as White, 8.8% identified as Hispanic, 8.1% identified as Asian, 5.6% identified as Black, 4.1% identified as multiracial, and 0.5% identified as American Indian. Most of the time the accessibility issue is based upon economics. The price of most study abroad programs differ according to the length of stay. As I will show, the prices of these programs vary along with what is covered by the price and the ability to use financial aid for the program.

First, I will use the example of a summer study abroad program in Austria because this is where I went for a 6 week program in 2012. The International Summer School in Innsbruck, Austria is a program provided by the University of New Orleans. The program cost is $5,195.00 which includes tuition for up to 9 credits and all university fees, accommodations in a double room, breakfast and lunch on class days, some field trips and extra-curricular activities, round-trip bus transportation between Innsbruck and the Munich airport on arrival and departure days, nursing services and comprehensive medical insurance. Cost does not include airfare and other personal expenses. Financial aid can be used. The courses available for this program include, but are not limited to, Art; Business; German; Italian; Marketing; Political Science; and Sociology. Approximately 200-250 students attend this program each year from the University of New Orleans, the University of Georgia (partner university), the University of Innsbruck (partner university), and other universities across the U.S.

Next is the Vienna Summer Program provided by North Carolina State University. The program cost is $3,800.00 which includes non-refundable application charge, tuition for 6 credits, accommodation in Vienna, overnight excursions to Salzburg and Prague, tours in Vienna and museum admission, and 3 group meals. Airfare, most meals, and other personal expenses are not included. It is unknown if financial aid can be used.The only courses you can take on this program are one German course at any level and one arts course about art in Vienna in the 1900s.

The University of Southern Mississippi offers a 3 week program which is also located in Vienna. The cost of this program is $3,300.00 and includes tuition, fees, mandatory insurance, program excursions, accommodations, and breakfast daily. Airfare, most meals, and other personal expenses are not included. It is unknown if financial aid can be used.This is a program for music majors and only offers one 3 credit hour course.

Virginia Tech offers 3 summer study abroad programs. I will only look at the program in Prague, Czech Republic for 6 weeks. This program is run through the Pamplin College of Business. Costs includes lodging, class fees, lunch on class days, public transportation, emergency insurance and some cultural excursions. The program fee does not include roundtrip airfare to Prague, dinners, personal travel, books, passport, and visa.The cost of this program depends on the number of students attending. If 25 students attend, the cost is $7,050.00. 30 students: $6,800.00. 35 students: $6,500.00 40 students: $6,200. Financial aid cannot be used.