Below you can explore our new, global research report, Mapping Generation Z, focusing on the motivations for and hindrances to high school international study among students. The study was conducted via a survey across 27 countries. The collection period was March 2016 through December 2016. The 5,255 respondents ranged in age from 13-18 years.

Executive Summary


English speaking destinations dominate in popularity

With 77%, English speaking destinations (USA, UK, Australia) retain the highest attraction. By contrast, the two emerging markets featured in the survey (Brazil and China) show a lower favorability rating: 38%. This signals that today’s high school students have destination preferences similar to preceding generations in terms of education abroad.


Affordability remains a barrier to student mobility

33% of all respondents from emerging or developing economies indicate that they would not be able to afford an exchange abroad without receiving a scholarship. By contrast only 15% of students in Western countries report similar financial circumstances. This reveals that affordability remains a significant hurdle to school-level mobility in major parts of the world.


Program specifics emerge as the main choice influencers

Students worldwide respond that they are influenced primarily by program aspects, such as the reputation of the host country (77%), English as the language of instruction (69%), and the reputation of the host school (64%). By contrast, respondents assign lesser weight to the influence of traditional advertising (51%) and social media (42%).


Apprehensiveness about security tops the list of concerns

Countries where the research was conducted before May 2016 show a personal safety concern rate of 36%, while the following months (when acts of terrorism became frequent) yield a rate of 52%, which points to increased awareness of the global security situation. Security concerns supersede fear of social isolation (50%), homesickness (48%), and discrimination (34%).


Cultural exploration as a goal prevails in all global regions

57% of Latin American, 58% Southeast Asian, 72% North American, and 75% of European respondents expressed that their prevalent motivations to study abroad revolve around cultural exploration as opposed to academic advancement. Therefore, one could imply that the traditionally observed focus on academics in the developing regions is shifting closer to the attitudes of the West.

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Media Contacts:

Milena Miladinovic
Communications & External Affairs, AFS Intercultural Programs
[email protected]

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