Click here to download the complete press release.


The Big Ten International Learning Mobility Benchmark was established in May 2012 with the objective of developing a yearly report that contains detailed information about the international mobility strategies executed by the Big Ten Academic Alliance (USA) institutional members.


The study aims to go beyond the annual data reported for the IIE Open Doors survey to create an additional set of institutional data to support program management and policy decisions. This is the fourth year that Studymove develops this comprehensive analysis for the Big Ten Academic Alliance. 





The report provides an extensive analysis of all the indicators and data collected through a questionnaire. It benchmarks the results of each participating university and includes the average and median of each indicator for all participating universities from Fall 2014 through Summer 2015.


The 2016 report used data from the 2014-2015 academic year to compare and contrast the Learning Abroad Programs of thirteen BTAA member institutions in the following areas:

Student participation


Program management

Funding and support

Inbound Learning Abroad students

Student success


 Participating Universities  

The 2016 Big Ten International Mobility Benchmark includes information from the following universities:


Indiana University

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Purdue University

University of Nebraska - Lincoln

The University of Iowa

University of Wisconsin - Madison

University of Michigan

Michgan State University

The Ohio State University

The Pennsylvania State University

Rutgers University

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

University of Maryland





In the 2014-2015 academic year, thirteen participating member universities of the Big Ten Academic Alliance reported an aggregate of 34,334 student participants in Learning Abroad Programs. This figure includes US citizens and international students from all academic levels in credit and non-credit Learning Abroad Programs and represents and extraordinary result for this group of institutions.


Of these participants, there were 26,253 US residents undertaking a Learning Abroad Program for credit, which represents close to 10% of the total learning abroad participants reported in the 2015 Open Doors report (Institute for International Education, 2015). 


You can download the complete public report in this link: 



  Where are they going?   


Across the thirteen participating Big Ten member institutions, 50% of students chose to undertake a Learning Abroad Program in Europe, although this is represented by a broad range of 34% - 62% across institutions. The data allowed us to consider variations in study destinations based on the split between credit and non-credit programs.


For-credit programs were most likely to be hosted by Italy, Spain, UK, and China, while not-for-credit programs were most likely to be hosted by Canada, Honduras, Japan and Nicaragua. In general, non-credit Learning Abroad Programs offer a greater geographic diversity than for-credit programs, possibly reflecting high participation in non-credit activities for graduate students. 


{module BTAA Chart 1}



   Credit Status   


A recent report from, the Institute for International Education (IIE) recognizes the importance of the Big Ten International Learning Abroad Benchmark as one of the very few studies to provide an analysis of all learning abroad programs (both for-credit and non-credit) in the United States.


This year all thirteen participating Big Ten member universities were able to report on the number of learning abroad students in credit and non-credit programs. In aggregate, this thirteen universities reported more than 5,000 participants in non-credit Learning Abroad Programs which represents almost 16% of  the total. The quality of the data reported in the non-credit area varies considerably and this data should be used with appropriate explanations.  



  Gender, Ethnicity and Race   

Following national trends, more females (63%) participated in Learning Abroad Programs at participating Big Ten institutions, though at graduate level, the proportion of male participants was 47%. Considering race/ethnicity, data on participation in non-credit Learning Abroad, included for the first time, shows higher participation rates of non-White students in non-credit bearing programs - an average of 40% compared with 31% for credit bearing programs. A proportion of difference is accounted for by international student participants in non-credit programs. 



  Learning Abroad and Student Success  


As an optional section of the report, student retention and completion was compared between undergraduates who took part in a Learning Abroad Program and those who did not. Five Big Ten member universities participated in this section.


At these five universities, the Learning Abroad cohort appeared to have higher retention rates, ranging above 94% while the non-learning abroad cohort ranged from 86% to 74%.  It is important to note limitations in this data. Firstly, we have no analysis when the Learning Abroad Program occurred during the undergraduate degree and this can vary from first year to fourth year. Secondly, this data does not account for student background characteristics such as motivation levels, intelligence or pre-college preparation. The data reflects a simple comparison aimed at stimulating further discussion around this topic on campuses. 


In terms of completion or graduation rates, the learning abroad cohort, in general, completed their undergraduate degree in a shorter time-period than the non-learning abroad cohort. This data provides further support to the claim that learning abroad, in general, does not delay graduation. Again, this data should be considered as a preliminary indicator only, as there are many other factors that can influence the higher education experience and time-to-graduation.


Average Graduation Rate for Non-learning abroad and learning abroad cohort (in %)

  4 years or less More than 4 years but 5 years or less More than 5 years but 6 years or less
Entering year cohort Non-learning abroad cohort (%) Learning abroad cohort (%) Non-learning abroad cohort (%) Learning abroad cohort (%) Non-learning abroad cohort (%) Learning abroad cohort (%)
2008 44.7% 71.2% 63.2% 91.7% 72.0% 95.0%
2009 45.8% 70.5% 63.8% 91.2%  
2010 47.3% 76.0%    


Click here to read the press release which contains highlights from the report



If you would like to obtain more information about this analysis or other reports please contact us:

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Twitter: @Studymove