Open Doors® Statistics on U.S. College-Level Study Abroad Students with Disabilities

Track the trends of US college students with disabilities going abroad with annual statistics from IIE. Updated December 2021.

View the data on the Open Doors website here.

The Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange shows that among U.S. post-secondary institutions, where the disability status of study abroad students is known, 12.4% of study abroad students had disabilities in 2019/20.

Continued Progress:

The Open Doors Report first reported data on students with disabilities in 2006/2007. The data most recently released marks 14 years of disability data being collected. The information below compares data collected in the 2006/07 report versus the 2019/20 report most recently released during International Education Week in November 2021. Highlights include:

  • % of students with disabilities participating in study abroad increased from 2.6% to 12.4%
  • # of institutions reporting disability data increased from 116 to 276.

Students with disabilities typically represent 19.4% of the student population on U.S. campuses (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics).

Among those institutions that know the specific disability of the study abroad participants, the breakdown is:

  • Learning Disability (31.5%)
  • Mental Disability (37.9%)
  • Physical Disability (3.2%)
  • Sensory Disability (2.2%)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (2.0%)*
  • Chronic Health Disorder (18.1%)*
  • Other Disability (5.1%)

Total (100%)

*new categories

Since the "Other" disability category had grown to 20.7% in the 2014/15 report, new disability categories, Chronic Health Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder, were identified and added to the survey in recent data collection. This may have contributed to more students with disabilities being recognized and counted in the survey to paint a fuller picture of representation. The "Other" disability category decreased significantly since adding the two additional categories.

As more students with chronic health conditions (e.g. diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, etc.) are recognized as participating, it is important to ensure inclusion from the start, such as in the negotiation of pre-existing condition coverage in group health insurance plans and flexibility in the design of programs.

By using baseline statistics to track progress, it will help institutions to see who is and isn’t going abroad to better address barriers that may be occurring. Learn how to track education abroad students with disabilities in our Related Resources or by downloading the International Educator article under Documents. Surveys are filled out by U.S. institutions annually by mid-March.

More Information

This data is from the Institute of International Education (IIE)’s annual Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, sponsored by U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. This is the eleventh year IIE collected the disability study abroad data.

For statistics since the first year of collection in 2006/07, see Open Doors Data on U.S. Study Abroad: Students with Disabilities in the Related Links.

The National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange is project of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, designed to increase the participation of people with disabilities in international exchange between the United States and other countries, and is supported in its implementation by Mobility International USA.