Open Doors 2019 Report Recap

Chris Henry, Communications Intern

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In celebration of International Education Week, the Institute of International Education (IIE) released its annual Open Doors Report on November 18, 2019. The report found that the number of international students in the United States is at an all-time high. Additionally, Latin America and the Caribbean region demonstrated promising growth as a destination for U.S. students studying abroad.   

The report featured both improvements and declines in study abroad to and from the United States. The total number of international students in the U.S. reached 1,095,299, representing a 0.05 percent increase from the previous year, and marks the fourth consecutive year in which the total number of international students in the U.S. surpassed 1 million. 

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The document noted that new international student enrollment, or students enrolling for the first time at a U.S. institution in fall 2018, decreased by 0.09 percent from the previous year. However, this drop is an improvement of the 7 percent decrease observed in the previous year.  

With regard to educational opportunities in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), the results are promising. The number of U.S. study abroad students in the LAC region increased by 3.1 percent (excluding Cuba.) When including Cuba in the calculation, the number of U.S. study abroad students decreases to 1.4 percent, due to a sharp decline in study abroad rates to the country. 

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Among the top 14 destination countries for U.S. study abroad students were two Latin American countries: Costa Rica, which placed ninth with 8,681 students, and Mexico, which placed twelfth with 5,963 students. Mexico was also identified as the second most popular host country for U.S. students studying abroad for non-academic credit.  

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Latin America and the Caribbean also remains active in inbound mobility, with a total of 80,962 international students from Latin America studying in the U.S. in the 2018/2019 school year, an increase of 1.3 percent from the previous year. Two countries were represented in the top 10 countries of origin of international students — Brazil ranked ninth place with 16,059 students and Mexico followed suit in tenth place with 15,229 students. Brazil’s growth in this category was one of the strongest in the LAC region with an increase of 9.8 percent from the year before. 

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Partners of the Americas works to bolster the continued growth of educational exchange in Latin America and the Caribbean, in particular, through our 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund. This initiative aims to increase student mobility across the Western Hemisphere by offering grants to higher education institutions that stimulate international partnerships and collaboration.  

To date, the Innovation Fund has awarded grants to teams of 477 higher education institutions in 25 countries in the Western Hemisphere and 49 U.S. States. Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, and Peru are leading countries in this hemispheric-wide initiative, and the Innovation Fund continues to work to provide grant opportunities to higher education institutions in the region. 

In fact, on November 21, 2019, the Innovation Fund launched the 2019 U.S.-Mexico Innovation Fund Competition for Economic and Financial Inclusion and Agricultural Sustainability for Inequality Reduction, with support from Fundación Banorte, Fundación Gruma, and the U.S. Department of State. The round will provide up to ten grants of $25,000 to support higher education institution teams in Mexico and the United States to create new student exchange and training programs in the areas of Economic & Financial Inclusion and Agricultural Sustainability, with an emphasis on inequality reduction. Opportunities such as these that foster academic collaboration among students, faculty, and administrators will help create a more connected and prosperous hemisphere.  

For more information on the Open Doors 2019 report, visit To follow Partners’ activity in higher education, visit or follow the Innovation Fund at #100KStrongAmericas