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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 16, 2004

Study Abroad Numbers Rise In Spite Of Security Concerns

University of Iowa students studying abroad continued to rise in 2002-2003, the first full academic year after Sept. 11, 2001, in line with national trends, according to figures from the UI Office for Study Abroad (OFSA).

UI OFSA Director Janis Perkins and her colleagues at other institutions had thought the 2002-2003 study abroad numbers might drop because of increased security concerns after Sept. 11, 2001, but instead, they continued to increase.

"Students became a bit more curious about the rest of the world rather than just being concerned about security or terrorism," she said.

In 2002-2003, 917 students studied abroad, an increase of 7 percent. Of these, 652 were undergraduates, an increase of 10.3 percent, and 265 were graduate students, one student less than the previous year. The Open Doors 2004 annual report on international education by the Institute of International Education for 2002-2003 found there was an 8.5 percent increase of U.S. higher education students who received credit for study abroad in 2002-2003, reaching a record level of 174,629. This number is double what it was 10 years ago, in 1991-1992.

At the UI, 64 percent of undergraduate study abroad destinations in 2002-2003 were in Western Europe; the top five Western European countries were the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, France and Ireland.

Although the report found Western European countries continued to top the list of destinations for U.S students abroad, there was also an increase in diversity of destinations. Of the leading 20 destinations in 2002-2003, seven of the 11 destinations with double-digit increases were outside of Western Europe.

Forty-seven percent of all U.S. students abroad studied in the four leading destinations of the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and France, but 11 of the leading 20 destinations are places outside of Western Europe, according to the Open Doors report. While interest in non-traditional destinations continues to grow, the number of students studying in Asia in 2002-2003 declined sharply due to the SARS epidemic, which closed down programs in spring and summer 2003.

Perkins reported that 995 UI students studied abroad in the most recent academic year of 2003-2004, up 8.5 percent over the previous year. Breaking this figure down, she said the number of undergraduates studying abroad has risen over the last three years while the number of graduate students has remained constant.

At the UI, undergraduates studying abroad have substantially increased in 2003-2004 due to expanding opportunities such as the new programs in Brazil and Australia. Last academic year, the breakdown of UI students who studied abroad is 713 undergraduates, an increase of 9.4 percent, and 274 graduate students, an increase of 3.4 percent.

"We're continuing to see a healthy increase in the number of students studying abroad in spite of a weak economy, on top of being a nation at war, and other factors that may discourage students from going abroad," Perkins said of the 2003-2004 numbers.

More than 60 percent of UI undergraduates have still been going to popular destinations in Western Europe in 2003-2004. The top five destinations for UI students were the United Kingdom (129), Spain (121), Italy (77), Australia (58) and Germany (39).

For more information about study abroad, contact Janis Perkins, 319-335-0353. Information on the Open Doors report can be found at

OFSA is affiliated with International Programs, which consists of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost for academic programs and dean of International Programs (IP), these units serve to further internationalize the campus and community and promote global scholarship, research and teaching.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026,; Study Abroad: Janis Perkins, 319-335-0353; Writer: Po Li Loo