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Terra Dotta’s Second Annual “Study Abroad Survey"

Posted: 9th March 2023 14:53

In its second annual Study Abroad Survey: The Voice of the Students, Terra Dotta, a leading global engagement education technology provider, today revealed that nearly 3 out of 4 of the 200+ U.S. college students surveyed, and 80% of the college freshmen, expressed interest in study abroad citing personal growth and an interest in travel as the primary reasons. More than 60% of the students are looking at a traditional semester abroad in Spring 2024 with Western Europe being a popular destination among 70% of the interested students.

“As we continue to get out from under Covid’s shadow, study abroad is experiencing a resurgence as college students want to travel,” said Anthony Rotoli, CEO of Terra Dotta. “Our survey findings echo a 40% increase in the number of Study Abroad travelers on the Terra Dotta platform in 2022. Yet the survey also reveals a real need for more financial support and program education to impart the long-term career readiness value for potential student travelers.”

Financial Concerns an Obstacle to Study Abroad Growth
The biggest obstacle to studying abroad, as reported by students themselves, is cost. In fact, when students who are interested were asked what would prevent them from studying abroad, 84% said cost/finances. And more than half of students (47%) said the No. 1 thing their institutions could do to make study abroad programs more accessible is help them learn about financial aid. Similarly, the students not planning to study abroad also cited cost as the No. 1 barrier with 37% saying it costs too much money or they have financial concerns.

More Study Abroad Program Information Needed
In addition to financial aid, more program education can also help sway the nearly 30% of students surveyed who said ‘I don’t know anything about [study abroad]’ or ‘I have not heard of it’. While career readiness might be a popular by-product of study abroad - and the number one reason for study abroad in 2022 - its use as a motivator may be overstated among younger students. Only 7% of respondents selected preparation for a global workforce as their top reason for their interest in study abroad - illustrating the need for program education and its long term value beyond personal growth and a desire to travel. School websites are cited by 75% of the interested students as the No. 1 way for their institution to promote information about study abroad programs, ideas, and availability.

“While international educators have been trying to shed the label of being the travel department and leaning into how important cross-cultural exchange is for career readiness, there is an opportunity to do more to engage students and parents - especially as many students are eager to travel given the social and mobility impacts of the pandemic,” added Rotoli.

Study Abroad on High School Students’ Radar
The survey also addressed the impact of study abroad offerings on students’ college selection decisions. For example, more than half of the students interested in study abroad (57%) said an institutions’ study abroad programs and/or the schools’ support of study abroad impacted their college selection decision. In fact, nearly half (45%) of the students report becoming interested in study abroad in high school.

Increasing Accessibility through Study Away & Virtual Programming
And while virtual global programming matured during the pandemic out of necessity and offers greater accessibility, students are still enthusiastic about it - 44% of those interested in study abroad say they are very interested in a virtual program and 47% say they’d need more information. Study away - which offers domestic cultural travel opportunities - also has student buy-in with 43% of the students saying “Absolutely” they would be interested. Both virtual programming and study away can help address study abroad accessibility whereby financial, physical, mental health and other obstacles can limit student participation rates.

Study Methodology
Findings from Terra Dotta’s second annual “Study Abroad: Voice of the Student” Survey were derived from an online panel conducted by Thrive Analytics. Data was gathered in January 2023 from 223 U.S. college students enrolled in a public or private higher ed institution.

To learn more and access the full report, visit

About Terra Dotta
Terra Dotta is the trusted leader in global engagement solutions for higher education. Over 700 universities and colleges use Terra Dotta’s global engagement platform to facilitate cross-cultural experiences for students, faculty and staff in more than 85 countries worldwide. The company’s solutions help customers deliver end-to-end, accessible global engagement experiences that meet comprehensive safety and compliance requirements – from managing domestic and international travel to international student programs, virtual and global experiences and beyond. Terra Dotta is based in Chapel Hill, N.C. and can be found at

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