Studying abroad is the act of a student pursuing educational opportunities in a country other than one's own.[This can include primary, secondary and post-secondary students. The number of students studying abroad represents only about 1% of all students enrolled at institutions of higher education in the United States.
While the majority of foreign students who study in the United States are pursuing a full degree, most outgoing U.S. students study abroad for one or two academic terms. The majority of US students now choose short-term study abroad programs according to the most recent Institute of International Education Open Doors Report. In the 2008–09 academic year, the five countries US students chose to study abroad in most were the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France, and China. The total number of US students studying abroad during 2008–2009 was 260,327, compared to 262,416 the previous year, a modest decline of 0.8%. In the 2011-2012 academic year 283,332 US students opted to study abroad, a 0.9% increase from 2008-2009; however, US students who choose to study abroad represent only 1% of all students enrolled in higher education institutions.The Open Doors report is published annually by the Institute of International Education with funding from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. However, the report found that there were notable increases in the number of U.S. students going to study in less traditional destinations. Fifteen of the top 25 destinations were outside of Western Europe and nineteen were countries where English is not a primary language.
In 2012, 764,495 international students studied in the United States. During the same time period, 274,000 US students studied abroad. This imbalance has been referred to as an "international education deficit."
While the data from the Open Doors Report is still wide-ranging, it is not entirely inclusive of all study abroad student data that had previously been included in the annual reports. As of 2013, according to the Open Doors' FAQs regarding the question of 'Who is counted in the U.S. Study Abroad survey?': "students who travel and take courses abroad that are not tracked by their home institution are not reported in Open Doors, nor are students who are enrolled overseas for full degrees from non-U.S. institutions."