According to a Chronicle article last week, only 11% of study abroad students choose to study in an Asian county. (Most students choose Europe as their preferred destination.)
In the business and commerce world, Asia is a huge focus, but that attention is not reflected in undergraduate study abroad numbers.
Karen Fischer, author of the Chronicle article “Americans Shy Away From Study in Asia,” gives the following two explanation for the lack of undergraduate interest in Asia:
- It is far more common for undergrads to learn and then become proficient in a European language (or to just stick with English). Students are drawn to countries where they’ll be able to communicate. Therefore, for most American undergraduates, “Asia can seem exotic and a little bit scary.”
- More American university professors have built relationships with professors in Europe than in Asia; therefore, they’ll be more likely to steer students in the direction of their friends and colleagues.
As schools build stronger bonds with Asian countries, Fischer explains, we’ll likely see an upswing in Asian study abroad attendance. For example, Yale has strong roots in China; a quarter of Yale study or intern abroad students head to Asia. University of Buffalo’s China program is also extremely popular.
Also, studying abroad in Asian countries is increasingly popular among students of Asian descent. At UC San Diego. Almost every one of the Asian study abroad students have Asian backgrounds; in NYU these students make up about half of the China program.
Students who plan to enter business-related fields, particularly fields like global finance or international business, are more likely to be attracted to studying Asian languages and studying or interning abroad in Asia. Top US business schools seem to be making a more concerted effort to expand their classrooms over to Asia, and elsewhere.
P.S. While the Asia study abroad numbers are low, they are still now more than 200% more than they were five years ago, and continue to grow.
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