A survey of over 2,000 students from 19 countries, conducted by the University of Southern California, suggests there are several reasons why people are pursuing study abroad: They want to improve their career prospects and find a place of their own to study; they want to explore new cultures and countries; they are hoping to become better at a particular job or industry; they just want to experience different cultures and have the opportunity to experience the local environment.
One reason why people would choose study abroad is because they want more international opportunities, says Nicole LeBlanc, the study’s principal investigator and a research professor in the USC Office of the Associate Vice President for Research and Innovation.
“We find that it’s a big part of why people travel,” she says.
“It’s not just because they’re looking for a better job.”
A look at reasons to study abroad According to the study, the most popular reasons for studying abroad are to study at a university, to become a better student, to meet new people and to learn a new language.
“One reason why they choose to study is because of the opportunities that they have abroad, the higher salary that they can expect, and because they are looking to find a new place to study,” LeBlancs said.
“There are some great benefits that they get from studying abroad, and it’s also a great opportunity to gain international experience.”
LeBlann says the survey is a good way to track students’ experiences abroad, so she can compare them with students from other countries.
“The survey will provide a snapshot of the students’ backgrounds and why they are choosing to study in different countries,” Leblanc says.
Study abroad and the job market Many students from the US say that the main reason for choosing to travel is because it allows them to study and learn in a different environment.
LeBlanche says that the majority of students who participate in the study say they are interested in the opportunity of traveling to a new country or region.
She says that students who want to study more abroad also report that they feel more connected to their countries because of their studies.
For example, many students said they felt more connected because they were studying in a foreign country.
“I’ve learned a lot about the culture, and I think that it was really important for me to see what it’s like in a new culture,” said Hannah, who was studying in Europe.
“To see how people lived and the things that they did in different cultures, it was very inspiring.”
Leblanche says the main barriers students from countries like the UK and France face are language barriers, and lack of jobs.
She points out that the most common reasons students from developing countries cite for choosing study abroad are the opportunity it offers them to learn in new cultures, as well as a better career opportunity.
The US study also found that students from low- and middle-income countries were less likely to choose study overseas because of language barriers and a lack of employment opportunities.
“If I have a language barrier and I can’t get into a university or a job, that’s a problem,” Le Blanc said.
The survey also found students from India, Brazil and the Philippines were the most likely to consider study abroad for a career opportunity and the least likely to take it up if they could afford it.
“A lot of them said they’re really, really interested in getting into a new field or working in a field they love, but they don’t have the money to get into it,” Le Blanc said.
While LeBlancas research focuses on international student recruitment, she says that it is important to note that many students who are studying overseas are doing so for other reasons.
“This is not a one-time thing, so it’s really a very long-term commitment,” she said.