Diversity growing in study abroad programs

November 19, 2018
API study abroad students in Sharjah

Last week, the Institute of International Education released its annual Open Doors report. This report gives us a clearer picture of the current state of study abroad. One of the biggest takeaways from this year is that diversity among study abroad students is on the rise! This is fantastic news. API supports finding ways to make a study abroad experience available for everyone. Let’s break down the findings from this year’s report!

API study abroad students in Sharjah

More people of color are studying abroad

The profile of study abroad students continues to become more racially and ethnically diverse; although there is still much room for progress. In 2006, just 3.8% of African American college students studied abroad. Last year, that number was 6.1%! More Hispanic and Latino students are also studying abroad (from 6% to 10.2%). Unfortunately, though, when you compare these numbers to the overall diversity of U.S. higher education (about 42% of students in the U.S. are non-white), it is clear that more progress is needed to bridge the gap.

graph showing diversity among study abroad students in 2017

Students with disabilities are seeing more opportunity

In 2006, just 2.6% of students who studied abroad had a disability. Today that number stands at 9.2% and we would like to see it go much higher! Whether you’re a student on the autism spectrum, or a student with a physical disability, API is committed to going above and beyond to make sure you have all the resources you need. From finding ground floor living accommodations to locating an English-speaking doctor, API’s Program Mangers and Resident Directors can and will help.

Studying abroad with a disability is also providing educators with the framework needed to help all students while abroad. If you’re curious and want to read more, one of our alumni shares her story of studying abroad in Italy while deaf.

Studying abroad while LGBTQ

Although the Open Doors report does not go into the number of LGBTQ students studying abroad, a separate study by the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities has found that LGBTQ students can sometimes be hesitant to study abroad for fear of discrimination and harassment.

Our program finder allows students to browse LGBTQ-friendly program destinations. API provides resources and support for all students before, during, and after the study abroad process. Our involved employees and alumni occasionally host queer abroad Q&A’s for students with questions.

Although the prospect of being LGBTQ in another country can be intimidating, many of our students have said it has been a very rewarding experience. One alumni, who studied abroad in Spain after coming out, described it as healing. “The relaxed environment of Spain and my laid-back schedule gave me the chance to devote time to understanding myself better.”

Diversity abroad

API offers diversity scholarships

Because we value and prioritize diversity in our study abroad programs, API offers several scholarship options. In fact, we award approximately $500,000 annually to students! One example is our API Diversity Scholarship. It provides financial support for minority students, LGBTQ students, veterans, students with disabilities and more. We also offer a First Generation Scholarship for a student who is the first in their family to study abroad.

API also offers more general scholarship options, including regional financial aid, a Community or Technical College Scholarship, and a Student Athlete Scholarship. Be sure to take a look at our full list of financial support options.

The progress being seen in diversity abroad is encouraging.

Studying abroad is an adventure of a lifetime – and here at API, we believe the opportunity should be available to as many students as possible! Visit our website to browse program locations and learn more about #APIabroad!



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