The number of U.S. students studying abroad in Cuba jumped from 1,633 in the 2013-14 academic year to 4,607 in 2017-18, according to a new State Department report.
That was an increase of 182 percent, the second highest in Latin America and the Caribbean behind Grenada, according to the State Department’s 2019 Global Guide.
Costa Rica was region’s top destination for U.S. students with 8,322 followed by Mexico with 5,736. Cuba was third with 4,607 students, a 22 percent increase over the previous academic year.
Oddly, authors of the report omit Cuba from their discussion of study abroad in Latin America and the Caribbean. The report states:
The Caribbean is the fastest growing sub-region as a study abroad destination, with significant increases, particularly in Grenada, Haiti, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the Dutch Caribbean islands. Other rapidly growing destinations in South America include Bolivia, Colombia, Guyana, and Paraguay; Central America saw decreases in all countries, except Belize.
Increased mobility from the United States to the Caribbean is the result of faculty-led programs and established exchanges, many focusing on health-related fields as well as gender and social issues.
After the signing of the peace agreement and the changes in the U.S. State Department Travel Advisory, Colombia has experienced a large increase in U.S. students. According to Open Doors, in AY 2016-2017 there was a 10-percent increase of U.S. students studying in Colombia. Colombia welcomes educational tourism opportunities and is finding ways to support the increased demand. Colombian universities are offering academic courses in English, in majors such as engineering, which facilitates semester study abroad options. Short-term faculty-led programs continue to be a popular option.
The U.S. and Cuba restored diplomatic relations on July 20, 2015. Barack Obama’s term ended on Jan. 20, 2017. Since then, the Trump administration has tightened restrictions on travel to Cuba.