Chapter 2 | Higher Education in Science and Engineering
International S&E Higher Education
In the 1990s, many countries, coming to view an educated population and workforce as a valuable national resource, began to expand their higher education systems and broaden participation in higher education. At the same time, flows of students worldwide increased, often reflecting government incentives and programs. More recently, several countries have adopted policies to encourage the return of students who studied abroad, to attract international students, or both. As the world becomes more interconnected, students who enroll in tertiary (postsecondary) institutions outside their own countries have opportunities to expand their knowledge of other societies and languages and improve their employability in globalized labor markets.
Higher Education Expenditures
One indicator of the importance of higher education is the percentage of a nation’s resources devoted to it as measured by the ratio of expenditures on tertiary education institutions to gross domestic product (GDP). This indicator varies widely among members of the OECD, an intergovernmental group of developed economies. Nearly half of OECD members spend more than the average of 1.5% of a nation’s GDP on tertiary education institutions, and only Canada, the United States, South Korea, Chile, and Estonia spend 2% or more. According to the most recently available data from the OECD, in 2013, the United States spent the highest proportion of GDP on tertiary education institutions compared with all other OECD countries, followed by Canada, South Korea, Chile, and Estonia (Appendix Table 2-33). Between 2005 and 2013, U.S. expenditures on tertiary education as a percentage of GDP were about 70% higher than the OECD average and about 90% higher than the European Union (see Glossary for member countries) average. Between 2000 and 2015, expenditures on tertiary education institutions as a percentage of GDP rose in most OECD countries, particularly in Estonia, Russia, Chile, and the Czech Republic (40% growth or higher).
Higher education financing data are not always fully comparable across different nations. They can vary between countries for reasons unrelated to actual expenditures, such as differences in measurement, types and levels of government funding included, types and levels of education included, and the prevalence of public versus private institutions.
Educational attainment, measured as the proportion of a population that has reached a specific level of education, is often used as a proxy for human capital and the skill levels associated with that particular education level (OECD 2016). Higher education in the United States expanded greatly after World War II. As a result, the U.S. population led the world in educational attainment for several decades. Because of this, the United States offered clear advantages for firms whose work would benefit from the availability of a highly educated workforce. In the 1990s, however, many countries in Europe and Asia began to expand their higher education systems. Some of them have now surpassed the United States in the attainment of bachelor’s or higher-level degrees among their younger cohorts. The generational shift in attainment so visible in many systems is not visible in the United States. Over time, the expansion of higher education elsewhere has substantially diminished the U.S. educational advantage.
Although the United States continues to be among the top countries with the highest percentage of the population ages 25–64 with a bachelor’s degree or higher, many countries have surpassed the United States in the percentage of the younger population (ages 25–34) with a bachelor’s degree or higher (Figure 2-23).
Attainment of bachelor's or higher degrees, by country and age group: 2015
OECD = Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Data include degrees at International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011 levels 6 (bachelor's or equivalent), 7 (master's or equivalent), and 8 (doctorate or equivalent). Data are not comparable with data presented in earlier years because of a change to ISCED 2011. Countries for which data at the short-cycle tertiary level (ISCED 5) were not available independently are not included.
OECD, Education at a Glance 2016: OECD Indicators (2016).
Science and Engineering Indicators 2018
First University Degrees in S&E Fields
More than 22 million students worldwide earned first university degrees in 2014 (see sidebar Comparability of International Data in Tertiary Education and Glossary), with more than 7.5 million of these in S&E fields (Appendix Table 2-34).
These worldwide totals include only countries for which relatively recent data are available (primarily countries in Asia, Europe, and the Americas) and are therefore underestimates of the global total. Asian universities accounted for more than 4 million of the world’s S&E first university degrees in 2014, with more than half of them in engineering. Students across Europe (including Eastern Europe and Russia) earned more than 1.5 million S&E first university degrees (about 40% of them in engineering), and students in North America earned nearly 1 million S&E first university degrees in 2014 (24% in engineering). In terms of individual countries, India and China awarded the largest numbers of first university degrees in S&E (1.9 and 1.7 million, respectively), followed by the United States (742,000), Russia (429,000), and Japan (316,000).
In several countries around the world, the proportion of first university degrees in S&E fields was higher than in the United States. Nearly half or more of all first university degrees in Japan, Iran, China, and Israel were in S&E fields, compared with nearly 40% in the United States. In 2014, about 14% of all bachelor’s degrees awarded in the United States and worldwide were in the natural sciences (physical, biological, computer, and agricultural sciences, as well as mathematics and statistics). This proportion was similar to the proportions of first university degrees awarded in the natural sciences in Canada, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, South Africa, Germany, and Armenia, but it was lower than the proportion awarded in the United Kingdom (21%).
Between 2000 and 2014, the number of S&E first university degrees awarded in China, Taiwan, Germany, Turkey, and Romania at least doubled; it also grew, albeit at a slower rate, in Australia, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the United States; in France and Japan, it declined (by 5% and 11%, respectively) (Appendix Table 2-35).
In China, first university degrees increased greatly in all fields, with a larger increase in non-S&E than in S&E fields. Growth in natural sciences and engineering degrees in China accounted for most of the country’s increase in S&E first university degrees: an increase of almost 1.2 million degrees and up more than 400% from 2000 to 2014 (Figure 2-24; Appendix Table 2-35). China has traditionally awarded a large proportion of its first university degrees in engineering, but the percentage declined from 43% in 2000 to 33% in 2014 (Appendix Table 2-35).
First university natural sciences and engineering degrees, by selected country or economy: 2000–14
EU = European Union.
Natural sciences include agricultural sciences; biological sciences; computer sciences; earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences; and mathematics. Data are not comparable with data presented in earlier years because of a change to International Standard Classification of Education 2011 and to a more aggregated taxonomy of fields. To facilitate international comparison, data for the United States reflect the most recent classification in the International Standard Classification of Education Fields of Education and Training (ISCED-F), which varies slightly from the National Science Foundation classification of fields presented in other sections of the chapter. Data are not available for all countries or economies for all years. The EU-Top 8 total includes aggregated data for the eight EU countries producing the highest number of S&E first university degrees in 2014: UK, Germany, France, Poland, Italy, Spain, Romania, and the Netherlands.
National Bureau of Statistics of China, China Statistical Yearbook, annual series (Beijing) (various years); Government of Japan, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Survey of Education (2014); Ministry of Education, Educational Statistics of the Republic of China (Taiwan): 2015 (2016); United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics database, special tabulations (2016); Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), OECD.Stat, https://stats.oecd.org/; National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Completions Survey; National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, WebCASPAR database, https://ncsesdata.nsf.gov/webcaspar/.
Science and Engineering Indicators 2018
In 1999, 29 European countries, through the Bologna Declaration, initiated a system of reforms in higher education throughout Europe. The goal of the Bologna Process was to harmonize certain aspects of higher education within participating countries so that degrees were comparable; credits were transferable; and students, teachers, and researchers could move freely from institution to institution across national borders. Ten years later, 48 countries launched the European Higher Education Area to implement these higher education reforms in Europe. In recent years, countries have made considerable changes: they have modified higher education structures by implementing three degree cycles (bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate), developed quality assurance systems, and established mechanisms to facilitate mobility (Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency [EACEA] 2012). A recent report that examined data in the areas of access, retention, and employability across 36 education systems, however, indicated that most European countries have been slow to set clear goals or monitor progress in those areas (EACEA 2014).
S&E First University Degrees by Sex
Women earned half or more of first university degrees in S&E in many countries around the world in 2014, including the United States, Canada, and several smaller countries. Most large countries in Europe are not far behind, with women earning more than 40% of S&E first university degrees. In most countries in the Middle East, except for Iran, women earned nearly half or more of the S&E first university degrees. In Asia, women generally earn about one-third or fewer of the first university degrees awarded in S&E fields. For example, in Taiwan, women earn 26% of the S&E first university degrees; in Japan, 29%; in South Korea, 34%; in Singapore, 36%. Malaysia is the exception, with 55% of its S&E first university degrees awarded to women in 2015 (Appendix Table 2-36).
In the United States and Canada, more than half of the S&E first university degrees earned by women were in the social and behavioral sciences, and less than 10% were in engineering. In contrast, in South Korea and Singapore, nearly half of the S&E first university degrees earned by women were in engineering. Among the largest producers of S&E degrees (those in which 40% of their first university degrees were in S&E), other countries with relatively high proportions of women earning first university degrees in engineering include Portugal (37%), Iran (35%), Romania (35%), and Malaysia (33%).
International Comparison of S&E Doctoral Degrees
More than 230,000 S&E doctoral degrees were awarded worldwide in 2014. The United States awarded the largest number of S&E doctoral degrees of any country (about 40,000), followed by China (about 34,000), Russia (about 19,000), Germany (about 15,000), the United Kingdom (about 14,000), and India (about 13,000) (Appendix Table 2-37). About 73,000 S&E doctoral degrees were earned in the EU (including the United Kingdom and Germany).
The number of S&E doctoral degrees awarded in China rose steeply between 2000 and 2009, but the increase has slowed since then. Although the rise was steeper in China, doctoral production also increased in the United States (Appendix Table 2-38 and Appendix Table 2-39). In the United States, about 37% of these doctorates were awarded to temporary visa holders. Many of these doctorate recipients stay in the United States after obtaining their degree (for a discussion on “stay rates” of doctorate recipients who are temporary visa holders, see Chapter 3)
In 2007, China surpassed the United States as the world’s largest producer of natural sciences and engineering doctoral degrees, but the numbers of doctoral degrees in these fields in these two countries remain close (Figure 2-25). The high growth of graduate education in China has been the result of large government investments in higher education over the last 20 years, intended to establish world-class universities in this country. Project 211 and Project 985 are examples of programs launched by the Chinese government in the mid-1990s to establish and strengthen institutions of higher education and key fields of study as a national priority (Lixu 2004).
Natural sciences and engineering doctoral degrees, by selected country: 2000–14
EU = European Union.
Natural sciences and engineering include biological, physical, earth, atmospheric, ocean, and agricultural sciences; computer sciences; mathematics; and engineering. To facilitate international comparison, data for the United States reflect the most recent classification in the International Standard Classification of Education Fields of Education and Training (ISCED-F), which varies slightly from the National Science Foundation classification of fields presented in other sections of the chapter. Data are not available for all countries for all years. The Top 8 EU total includes aggregated data for the eight EU countries with the highest number of S&E doctoral degree awards in 2014: UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, and Romania.
China—National Bureau of Statistics of China, China Statistical Yearbook, annual series (Beijing) (various years); India—Government of India, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Higher Education, All India Survey on Higher Education (2014); Japan—Government of Japan, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Survey of Education (2014); United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Institute for Statistics database, special tabulations (2016); United States—National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Completions Survey; National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, WebCASPAR database, https://ncsesdata.nsf.gov/webcaspar/.
Science and Engineering Indicators 2018
In the United States, as well as in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Poland, Ireland, and Estonia, the largest numbers of S&E doctoral degrees were awarded in the natural sciences, including the physical and biological sciences, and mathematics and statistics (Appendix Table 2-38). In many other countries, the proportion of S&E doctoral degrees in engineering is 40% or greater; that is the case, for example, in Sweden, Slovakia, Latvia, Greece, Finland, Bulgaria, Belgium, and Austria.
In Asia, China has been the largest producer of S&E doctoral degrees since 2000 (Appendix Table 2-39). As China’s capacity for advanced S&E education increased, the number of S&E doctorates awarded rose from about 8,000 in 2000 to more than 34,000 in 2014. Despite the growth in the quantity of doctorate recipients, some question the quality of the doctoral programs in China (Cyranoski et al. 2011). The rate of growth in doctoral degrees in S&E and in all fields has considerably slowed starting in 2010 (Appendix Table 2-39), after an announcement by the Chinese Ministry of Education indicating that China would begin to limit admissions to doctoral programs and focus more on the quality of graduate education (Mooney 2007).
Between 2000 and 2014, the number of S&E doctorates awarded in India, South Korea, and Taiwan more than doubled; in Japan, the numbers rose consistently through 2006 but declined since then). In China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, more than half of S&E doctorates were awarded in engineering. In India, 58% of the S&E doctorates were awarded in the natural sciences, computer sciences and agricultural sciences, 22% in the social and behavioral sciences, and 20% in engineering (Appendix Table 2-39).
Women earned 42% of S&E doctoral degrees awarded in the United States in 2014, about the same percentage earned by women in Canada and the EU (Appendix Table 2-40). Women earned more than half of S&E doctoral degrees in Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia, and Argentina but less than 25% of those in South Korea and Taiwan.
International Student Mobility
Governments around the world have increasingly come to regard movement toward a knowledge-based economy as key to economic progress. Realizing that this requires a well-trained workforce, they have invested in upgrading and expanding their higher education systems and broadening participation in them. In most instances, government spending underwrites these initiatives.
Recent investments by several governments to send large numbers of their students to study abroad are a strategy for workforce and economic development. Examples include the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program (also known as Science without Borders), launched officially in July 2011, which provides scholarships to Brazilian students to study in STEM fields in universities in the United States. In 2013, the Mexican government announced its Proyecta 100,000 program, which plans to send 100,000 students to study in the United States and to welcome 50,000 U.S. citizens to study in Mexico by 2018 (Helms and Griffin 2017; Lloyd 2014). The Chinese government has established the China Scholarship Council, a nonprofit affiliated with the Ministry of Education with the goal to provide financial assistance to Chinese citizens to study abroad, as well as to foreign citizens to study in China (China Scholarship Council 2017). Similarly, the government of Saudi Arabia has invested considerably in a scholarship program launched in 2005 that has supported study abroad programs for more than 100,000 Saudi students throughout the world, at an estimated cost of at least $5 billion since the program’s inception. In 2016, however, a tighter national budget in Saudi Arabia has resulted in a 12% reduction in financial support for this initiative (Knickmeyer 2012; Walcutt 2016). The EU set the goal that 20% of its higher education graduates should have experienced tertiary-level study or training abroad by 2020 (OECD 2016).
Students have become more internationally mobile in the past two decades, and countries are increasingly competing for them. According to data from UNESCO/UIS, the number of internationally mobile students who pursued a higher education degree more than doubled between 2000 and 2014, to 4.3 million. In general, students migrate from developing countries to the more developed countries and from Europe and Asia to the United States. However, a few countries have emerged as regional hubs for certain geographic regions—for example, Australia, China, and South Korea for East Asia and South Africa for sub-Saharan Africa (Bhandari, Belyavina, and Gutierrez 2011; UNESCO 2009). In Asia, two new programs, ASEAN International Mobility for Students and Passage to ASEAN, encourage student mobility within Asia, although the level of student mobility within the region is still low, except for the student exchanges between Malaysia and Indonesia. In addition, several countries have set targets for increasing the numbers of international students they host; among these are Jordan (which plans to host 100,000 students by 2020), Singapore (150,000 by 2015), Japan (300,000 by 2025), and China (500,000 by 2020) (Bhandari and Belyavina 2012).
Decisions about whether and where to study abroad are complex (OECD 2016). Some students migrate temporarily for education, whereas others remain abroad permanently after completing their studies. Some factors influencing the decision to seek a degree abroad include the policies of the countries of origin regarding sponsoring their citizens’ studies abroad, the tuition fee policies of the countries of destination, the financial support the countries of destination offer to international students, the cost of living and exchange rates that affect the cost of international education, and the quality of the programs and the perceived value of obtaining a foreign credential. The long-term return on investment from international education also depends on how international degrees are recognized by the labor market in the country of origin or elsewhere. For host countries, enrolling international students can help raise revenues from higher education and can be part of a larger strategy to attract highly skilled workers, particularly as demographic changes in many developed countries cause their own populations of college-age students to decrease (OECD 2012) (Appendix Table 2-41).
In recent years, many countries have expanded their provision of transnational education. One growing trend is the establishment of branch campuses: offshore programs established by higher education institutions in foreign countries. For local students, branch campuses provide the opportunity to earn degrees from foreign universities without leaving their home countries. For the institution venturing into a new country, meeting enrollment and financial goals without diluting quality standards is often a challenge. Branch campuses that bring in faculty from other countries can also fulfill some of the demand for highly qualified instructors that local higher education institutions cannot meet (UNESCO/UIS 2014).
According to the State University of New York at Albany’s Cross-Border Education Research Team (C-BERT 2017), a clearinghouse of information and research on transnational education, as of January 2017, there were 310 international branch campuses in operation. C-BERT defines a branch campus as “an entity that is owned, at least in part, by a foreign higher education provider; operated in the name of the foreign education provider; and provides an entire academic program, substantially on site, leading to a degree awarded by the foreign education provider.” Exporting countries (i.e., home countries of the institutions establishing branch campuses) totaled 34, and importing countries (i.e., host countries for branch campuses) totaled 84. The largest exporters of branch campuses, in order of the number of branch campuses established, were the United States (109 branch campuses), the United Kingdom (45), France (31), Russia (22), and Australia (21). The largest importers of branch campuses, in order of the number of branch campuses they hosted, were China (38 branch campuses), the United Arab Emirates (33), United Arab Emirates at Dubai (32), Malaysia (16), Singapore (15), and Qatar (12). In some cases, branch campuses are a part of what countries designate as an international “education hub.” C-BERT defines an education hub as “a designated region intended to attract foreign investment, retain local students, build a regional reputation by providing access to high-quality education and training for both international and domestic students, and create a knowledge-based economy.” An education hub can include different combinations of domestic and international institutions, branch campuses, and foreign partnerships within the designated region. Examples of education hubs include Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and Botswana (C-BERT 2017; Knight 2014).
More internationally mobile students (undergraduate and graduate) go to the United States than to any other country (19% of internationally mobile students worldwide) (Figure 2-26). Other top destinations for international students include the United Kingdom (10%), Australia (6%), France (5%), Russia (5%), and Germany (5%). Together with the United States, these countries receive about half of all internationally mobile students worldwide. Although the United States remains the destination for the largest number of internationally mobile students worldwide, its overall share has declined from 25% in 2000 to 19% in 2014 (OECD 2016). As in other countries, the proportion of internationally mobile students in the United States is higher at the graduate than at the undergraduate level (see Appendix Table 2-18, Appendix Table 2-21, Appendix Table 2-27, and Appendix Table 2-29).
Internationally mobile students enrolled in tertiary education, by selected country: 2014
Data are based on the number of students who have crossed a national border and moved to another country with the objective of studying (i.e., mobile students).
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Institute for Statistics database, special tabulations (2016).
Science and Engineering Indicators 2018
International Student Enrollment in Selected Countries
Since the late 1990s, the United Kingdom has been actively working to improve its position in international education, by recruiting international students to study in the country and by expanding its provision of transnational education (British Council 2015; United Kingdom Council for International Student Affairs [UKCISA] 2017). Between 2006 and 2016, international student enrollment in S&E fields in the United Kingdom increased by about 36,000 international students at the undergraduate level and by about 18,000 at the graduate level (Appendix Table 2-42). As in other countries, the proportion of international students in S&E is much higher at the graduate than at the undergraduate level. For example, in 2015–16, international students were 14% of all undergraduates in the United Kingdom (an increase from 10% in 2005–06), compared with 47% at the graduate level (an increase from 43% in 2005–06). Within S&E, international students were particularly prevalent in engineering. At the undergraduate level, international students were close to one-quarter of all engineering students in 2016; at the graduate level, they accounted for the majority of the students in engineering and in mathematics and computer sciences. China has been the main country sending S&E students to the United Kingdom during this period. However, the number of S&E students from Hong Kong, Romania, and the United States grew considerably at the undergraduate level. In 2016, the United States was among the top 5 countries sending undergraduates studying S&E to the United Kingdom; it was not among the top 10 countries a decade earlier. At the graduate level, in this 10-year period, the number of S&E students from Nigeria nearly doubled, and Italy and Saudi Arabia became 2 of the top 10 countries sending S&E students to the United Kingdom (Appendix Table 2-42).
In the context of slowing student enrollment, in 2008, the Japanese government announced plans to triple international enrollment within 12 years (McNeil 2008, 2010). Although Japan succeeded in increasing its enrollment of international students between 2004 and 2016 (in S&E and in all fields), growth has slowed considerably in the last 4 years (Appendix Table 2-43; Appendix Table NSB 2012 2-42; Appendix Table NSB 2014 2-46), perhaps caused in part by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami (McNeil 2012). In 2016, nearly 70,000 international students were enrolled in S&E programs in Japanese universities, similar to the preceding 4 years and up from 57,000 in 2004. As in other countries, international students accounted for a smaller proportion of students at the undergraduate than at the graduate level in 2014 (3% of undergraduate and 19% of graduate S&E students). The vast majority of the international students were from Asia. In 2016, Chinese students accounted for slightly more than half of the international S&E undergraduate students and graduate students in Japan. South Koreans were 16% of the international undergraduates and 6% of the international graduate students. Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Taiwan are among the top 10 locations of origin that send both undergraduate and graduate students to Japan (Appendix Table 2-43).
International students also constitute a larger share of enrollment at the graduate than at the undergraduate level in Canada (Appendix Table 2-44). Between 2004 and 2014, the proportion of international enrollment in Canadian universities grew slightly, from 6% to 7% at the undergraduate level and from 20% to 21% at the graduate level. In 2014, the highest percentages of international S&E students were in mathematics and computer sciences and in engineering, at both degree levels. At the undergraduate level, China was the top country of origin of international S&E students in Canada, accounting for 29% of international undergraduate students, followed by France and the United States (14% and 10%, respectively). The proportion of international undergraduate S&E students in Canada from China and France increased considerably between 2004 and 2014, while the proportion of students from the United States declined. At the graduate level, the top country of origin of international S&E students was also China with close to 3,700 students, but the country of origin of graduate S&E students was diverse. For example, France and India each sent about 2,500 S&E students to Canada, and Iran sent about 1,900. Unlike undergraduate students, during 2004 and 2014, the proportion of international graduate students from China declined slightly, and the proportion of those from France and the United States increased. The proportion of Indian S&E graduate students studying in Canada increased from 5% to 13% between 2004 and 2014, and the proportion of Iranian S&E students doubled to 10% in 2014.
U.S. Students Studying Abroad
Although the United States hosts the largest number of international students worldwide, U.S. students constitute a relatively small share of international students worldwide. About 70,000 U.S. students (in all fields) were reported as international students by OECD and OECD partner countries in 2012, far fewer than the number of international students from China, India, South Korea, Germany, Turkey, or France. The main destinations of U.S. students were the United Kingdom (about 16,600), Canada (about 9,600), Germany (about 4,300), France (about 3,900), New Zealand (about 3,200), and Australia (about 2,900)—mostly English-speaking OECD countries (OECD 2014). Given the relatively low number of U.S. students who study abroad and the importance of international experience in a globalized world, in 2014, the Institute of International Education (IIE) established Generation Study Abroad. This 5-year initiative has the goal to increase the number of U.S. students studying abroad, in credit and degree programs, to about 600,000 by 2019 (IIE 2017b).
About 300,000 U.S. university students enrolled in study abroad programs in the 2014–15 academic year (credit mobility—see Glossary), a 3% increase from the preceding year but almost double the number from 2000–01 (IIE 2016). Nearly 40% were enrolled in programs during the summer term, about one-third enrolled in programs lasting one semester, and nearly a quarter enrolled in short-term programs lasting up to 8 weeks. Only 3% enrolled for the full academic year, and very few enrolled for one or two quarters. The vast majority were undergraduates, primarily juniors and seniors; about 10% were master’s students; and 1% were doctoral students. Two-thirds of the U.S. students studying abroad were women, and nearly three-quarters were white. More than one-third were studying in S&E fields: 17% in social sciences, 8% in physical or life sciences, 5% in engineering, 2% in mathematics or computer sciences, and 2% in agricultural sciences; these proportions have been fairly stable since 2000–01. The leading destinations for study abroad programs in the 2014–15 academic year were the United Kingdom, Italy, and Spain, followed by France and China.