A Sharp Drop in the Number of Americans Studying Abroad in Africa

africa-thumbLast week a JBHE post reported on students from Africa who were studying at U.S. colleges and universities. Now we report on students who went the other way across the Atlantic.

According to new data from the Institute of International Education, 313,415 American students studied at foreign institutions of higher education during the 2014-15 academic year. This was up 2.9 percent from a year earlier. A majority of Americans studying abroad attended universities in Europe.

Of all U.S. students studying abroad, 10,647, or 4.4 percent, attended universities in sub-Saharan Africa. The number of American students studying in sub-Saharan Africa declined by nearly 20 percent from the previous year. American students studying in Kenya declined by 38 percent. The number of American students in West Africa was down 67.6 percent from the previous year, undoubtedly over concerns of violence in the region. Sub-Saharan African nations send 3.3 times as many students to American universities as America sends to sub-Saharan African universities.

Among sub-Saharan African nations, South Africa was by far the most popular destination. In the 2014-15 academic year, 5,249 American students studied in South Africa. This was up nearly 6 percent from the previous academic year. Tanzania hosted 1,216 American students in the 2014-15 academic year. Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda were the only other sub-Saharan African nations to host more than 500 American students.

While the data does not reveal what percentage of American students studying abroad in Africa are African Americans, we do know that of the 313,415 American students studying abroad in all areas of the globe, about 5.6 percent, are African Americans. A decade earlier in the 2004-05 academic year, African Americans were 3.5 percent of all American students who studied abroad.

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