Generation Study Abroad: What it Means for You
October 15th, 2015 by Lette Berhe
Established by the Institute of International Education in 2014, Generation Study Abroad is a five-year initiative whose goal is to double the number of U.S. students who study abroad by the end of the decade. This initiative has brought together partners from K-12 organizations, U.S. universities and colleges, social networks, and international universities and organizations to address the biggest obstacles students face when deciding to study abroad: cost, curriculum, and culture.
In just one year, these partners have begun to make practical changes to address these issues by focusing on:
- Increasing funding and scholarships
- Expanding student diversity
- Improving campus training and support
- Curricular integration
- Engaging alumni
The $185 million pledged by Generation Study Abroad partners will be used, in large part, to expand student access to study abroad programs. Some examples of partner initiatives include the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and CIEE, CIEE, a nonprofit world leader in international education for more than 65 years. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln now offers the Early Abroad Scholarship. This scholarship is meant to encourage students to study abroad within their first two years by offering them $2,000 towards their program. CIEE has offered to fund 10,000 student passports until the year 2020. Keep an eye out, because they will be visiting college campuses around the country to host their Passport Caravan event.
Another obstacle for many students is the fact that there are many programs whose classes are not accepted for credit by some universities or that there are less programs geared towards the sciences. This holds many students back, because studying abroad then becomes a ¨waste of time¨ in their academic plan. In partnership with other institutions, the University College Dublin has been making an effort to improve curriculum and be able to offer more programs to underrepresented fields in study abroad such as engineering, nursing, and pre-med. Within the last year 91% of Generation Study Abroad partners have made moves to offer more for-credit study abroad programs; this includes 64% of U.S. institutions that are trying to include or require a study abroad component in more majors and minors.
One of the main factors for Generation Study Abroad´s creation was to address the fact that only 10% of university students were participating in study abroad programs. However, within that 10% the percentage of underrepresented groups was even less. The mission is to make study abroad more inclusive by breaking down the elitist perception that it is out of reach, too expensive, or only for a select few.
SUNY Oswego is one of the universities that has begun to address student’s hesitations and concerns by establishing a panel series, ¨I, Too, Am Study Abroad¨, in which issues related to race, sexual orientation, and service learning abroad are addressed.
In a similar fashion AHA International, an academic program at the University of Oregon, is planning to hold ¨Shake the Fear¨ coffee mixers around college campuses in the Northwest and Midwest. These casual setting will hopefully encourage students to come out and receive answers to any of their doubts and hesitations about studying abroad.
What it Means for You
With such a high level of partnership and dedication, many programs are being created to make study abroad accessible. If you have been dabbling with the idea of studying abroad, pay attention to the study abroad office´s events calendar and take the time to make an appointment with an advisor to see what options you may have.
For more ideas on how to pay for your study abroad program, check out our section on Funding Your Education Overseas!