Generation Study Abroad | About

About the Initiative

Photo: Nick Parker Boren Fellow Tanzania

"International experience is one of the most important components of a 21st century resume." – Dr. Allan E. Goodman, President and CEO, IIE

Studying abroad is one of the best ways American college students can acquire international experience necessary to succeed in today's global marketplace.

According to the Open Doors Report on International and Educational Exchange, 295,000 American college students studied abroad in 2011/12 in credit-bearing and non-credit programs. While that may sound like a lot, it in fact represents less than 10% of the 2.6 million students graduating with associates or baccalaureate degrees each year.

Generation Study AbroadTM seeks to address that shortfall by bringing employers, governments, associations, and others together to build on current best practices and find new ways to extend study abroad opportunities to tens of thousands of college students for whom traditional study abroad programs aren't working.

Generation Study Abroad is a five-year initiative of the Institute of International Education (IIE) to mobilize resources and commitments with the goal of doubling the number of U.S. students studying abroad by the end of the decade. IIE is investing $2 million in the initiative and seeking funds to provide scholarships to college and high school students and grants to institutions. The initiative, which is timed to coincide with IIE's centennial in 2019, will highlight IIE's commitment to study abroad and encourage purposeful, innovative action to get more Americans to undertake a meaningful international experience through academic study abroad programs, as well as internships, service learning, and non-credit educational experiences.


About the Institute of International Education

The Institute of International Education is a world leader in the exchange of people and ideas. For close to 100 years, we have led efforts to expand opportunities for Americans to study abroad, including our flagship program, The Fulbright Program, on behalf of the U.S. government. We believe that peace and prosperity in the 21st century depend on increasing the capacity of people to think and work on a global and intercultural basis. As technology opens borders, educational and professional exchanges open minds.

Who benefits from Generation Study Abroad and how?

Why should students study abroad?

What are the most common obstacles to study abroad and how will Generation Study Abroad address them?

Is your goal to double realistic? Is it achievable in five years?

How does Generation Study Abroad plan to address the lack of diversity in study abroad?

Will Generation Study Abroad address concerns of quality of study abroad?

Will Generation Study Abroad Provide Scholarships?

Who is involved in Generation Study Abroad?

Why are you involving the private sector in an initiative involving higher education?

Why is IIE looking for foreign partners?

Why should U.S. higher education institutions join Generation Study Abroad? What does IIE bring to the table?

How can U.S. higher education institutions help meet the Generation Study Abroad goals, beyond just increasing their own numbers?

Is there a component of Generation Study Abroad that will involve students and educate parents on the ins and outs of study abroad?

How can teachers get involved?


Q: Who benefits from Generation Study Abroad and how?

A: We all do. Study abroad enables today's students—future leaders from all backgrounds in all sectors—to gain access to international experiences that will better prepare them to be global citizens. Learning how to interact with people from other countries and cultures will be essential for all careers, be they in business, manufacturing, engineering, government, academia or not-for-profit. With hundreds of thousands more American students graduating with the international experience necessary for success in a globalized world, employers will be able to hire the workers they need. Hopefully, these global thinkers will emphasize the importance of global experience in college and earlier, creating a cumulative effect of change within our society, which must recognize that we are not alone. We share the world and its problems, and we cannot solve them on our own. Global problems require the global exchange of knowledge to forge solutions through international dialogue and collaboration. Generation Study Abroad will benefit many more beyond those who study abroad.

back to top


Q: Why should students study abroad?

A: Globalization is changing the way the world works, and employers are under strong pressure to find employees who have both technical knowledge, and the "soft skills" such as critical thinking, problem solving, time management and communication, deemed necessary for success in a global workforce. Study abroad is one of the best ways students can acquire global skills and open up personal and professional opportunities. In addition, study abroad has been shown to improve college graduate and retention rates. Studies show students who study abroad have better grades, experience less attrition and graduate from college at higher rates than students who do not study abroad.

back to top


Q: What are the most common obstacles to study abroad and how will Generation Study Abroad address them?

A: Obstacles that keep more students from studying abroad fall into three major categories: cost, curriculum and culture. Generation Study Abroad will work with educators at all levels and stakeholders in the public and private sectors to identify meaningful, innovative action to address the issues of cost and curriculum so that hundreds of thousands more college students will be able to go abroad. The initiative will build on current best practices and find new ways to extend study abroad opportunities—including academic study abroad programs, internships, service learning and non-credit educational experiences—to those who are not currently taking part in study abroad. Further, we believe that Generation Study Abroad will have the most direct impact on culture. By creating and leading a coalition of diverse yet likeminded players, Generation Study Abroad plans to effect change on a national scale so that study abroad will eventually be viewed as—and become—an essential component of the college experience. Generation Study Abroad will work to change the mindset so that the question is not whether a student will study abroad, but rather when and how.

back to top


Q: Is your goal to double realistic? Is it achievable in five years?

A: Our goal is ambitious, but we believe that leaders in education, business and government can work together to double the number of U.S. college students studying abroad. By March 3, 2015 the official launch date of Generation Study Abroad, IIE had identified more than 300 lead partners who have committed to specific, measureable actions that will help reach this ambitious goal and significantly expand study abroad opportunities. We welcome new partners at any time.

back to top


Q: How does Generation Study Abroad plan to address the lack of diversity in study abroad?

A: We need to address the problem head on. Despite an increase in the overall number of students taking part in study abroad, the proportion of African-American, Hispanic and Native American students in the study abroad population has remained virtually the same over the past decade. Generation Study Abroad has made increasing diversity a major platform in its call to action as it seeks partners to work not only on increasing the numbers but also in changing the perception of study abroad. When it comes to traveling overseas, many students focus on the reasons not to go. According to college administrators, concern about affordability tops the list of reasons students decide not to study abroad. But additional barriers include fear and racism, worries about delayed graduation and few role models—either family or faculty—who have traveled abroad. Increasing racial and ethnic diversity in study abroad will require an effort to persuade students that going abroad is both possible and necessary.

back to top


Q: Will Generation Study Abroad address concerns of quality of study abroad?

A: An increase in study abroad participation will require continued attention to the quality of study abroad experiences. This includes outcomes and assessments, health and safety, and adequate pre-departure training of faculty, staff, and students. Commitment partners who join Generation Study Abroad will have available tools and resources on best practices in education abroad, including access to the Forum on Education Abroad and opportunities to network and learn from each other.

back to top


Q: Will Generation Study Abroad Provide Scholarships?

A: IIE recognizes that cost is a real issue and is actively raising funds. The IIE Study Abroad Fund provides funding for U.S. students to study abroad. The Fund also recognizes U.S. universities and institutions that are making outstanding progress achieving their study abroad targets and provides them with incentive grants to help their students pursue educational opportunities abroad. Commitment partners have also pledged to provide scholarships to students and create endowments for study abroad. The first grants will be awarded in spring 2015.

back to top


Q: Who is involved in Generation Study Abroad?

A: IIE is seeking to identify at least 500 U.S. colleges and universities willing to either double the number of their students studying abroad, or significantly increase the participation rate of students who study abroad at some point during their undergraduate career. As of the launch date, more than 250 higher education institutions from 41 U.S. states, along with higher education associations, study abroad provider organizations, several foreign institutions or government agencies, and the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, have already joined the Generation Study Abroad Commitment and pledged to support its goals. See the growing list of Commitment Partners. As the initiative expands over the next five years, the plan is to involve students, parents, teachers and employers as well.

back to top


Q: Why are you involving the private sector in an initiative involving higher education?

A: IIE is seeking involvement from the private sector to sponsor scholarships, offer international internships and to take a public stand in support of study abroad as a critical component for tomorrow’s workforce. By combining forces, we can work together to address the skills identified as necessary to work in the 21st global marketplace. Employers cite the following skills gained while studying abroad as relevant to today's global workers: cross-cultural awareness, which is critical to diverse teams; the ability to bring global thinking skills to bear on complex issues; language skills needed in a multilingual world; and a predisposition to and experience with global mobility. See our current list of sponsors.

back to top


Q: Why is IIE looking for foreign partners?

A: Foreign governments, as well as higher education institutions and private organizations in other countries, share in our goal of providing an international experience to U.S. students, and furthering the relationship between their countries and the United States by making more educational connections. By increasing the number of scholarships and placements offered to study in a particular country, more U.S. students will be able to pursue studies and language skills in select countries.

back to top


Q: Why should U.S. higher education institutions join Generation Study Abroad? What does IIE bring to the table?

A: We believe that it will take a lot more than the existing study abroad community increasing participation at the margins to dramatically increase the number of students who go abroad. It will take major change, and the involvement of educators, funders, employers and communities to reach this ambitious goal. Being a part of a larger initiative will provide networks and the resources to support the goals of campuses that would like to increase student participation in study abroad. Building on its nearly 100 years of commitment to study abroad, IIE will lead the Generation Study Abroad coalition in raising awareness of the need for students to gain language and cultural skills, identifying and breaking down barriers hindering students from studying abroad, sharing strategies and best practices to increase study abroad, and mobilizing financial resources.

back to top


Q: How can U.S. higher education institutions help meet the Generation Study Abroad goals, beyond just increasing their own numbers?

A: Institutions can further the goals of Generation Study Abroad in many ways: First, by sharing best practices so others can learn how to implement programs that help more students study abroad. Second, by creating a culture on campus that values study abroad across all majors and, eventually makes study abroad a core component of the college experience. Third, by spreading the word about the importance of study abroad with faculty, parents, high schools and the larger community. We recognize that it will take time, resources and a perceptual shift to overcome barriers and bring about such change. We will need to work together.

back to top


Q: Is there a component of Generation Study Abroad that will involve students and educate parents on the ins and outs of study abroad?

A: Generation Study Abroad is designed as a five-year initiative because it's going to take significant time and effort to effect change. Generation Study Abroad will roll out specific actions for how students and parents can get involved in 2015 and publish A Parent's Guide to Study Abroad with AIFS. We also encourage everyone who is interested in the topic of study abroad to check out IIE's recent publication, A Student Guide to Study Abroad, a practical how-to guide written in a fun and engaging style that includes 100 easy-to-follow tips and dozens of real-life stories. Please also subscribe to receive Generation Study Abroad updates via our website and follow #generationstudyabroad on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for news and announcements.

back to top


Q: How can teachers get involved?

A: Primary and secondary school teachers and administers can join Generation Study Abroad by pledging to be an advocate for study abroad. We encourage teachers to talk to their students about study abroad and the importance of learning languages and experiencing other cultures, so that by the time they go to college they will expect to take part in study abroad as a part of their education.

back to top

In addition to securing the participation of 600,000 students overall by the end of the decade, Generation Study Abroad seeks to build a coalition of and secure commitments from:

  • 500 institutions who pledge to significantly expand study abroad.
  • 10 institutions who require study abroad.
  • 10,000 alumni and students joining the initiative.
  • 1,000 high school teachers who pledge to make their students aware of study abroad.
  • External financial support for study abroad.

Bringing together institutions, students, alumni, teachers, and other stakeholders together will be necessary to ensure that study abroad will be viewed as a necessity, rather than a luxury, for all college students and an essential component of a college degree in the 21st century. We recognize this shift in perception will take time, but it is critical if America is to remain a leader in innovation and competitiveness in the 21st century.   

The initiative will take a broad view of the term “study abroad” and incorporate both credit and non-credit activities at the undergraduate and graduate level.

For the purposes of Generation Study Abroad, the Forum on Education Abroad’s definition is used: “Education that occurs outside the participant’s home country. Besides study abroad, examples include such international experiences as work, volunteering, non-credit internships, and directed travel, as long as these programs are driven to a significant degree by learning goals.”

Generation Study Abroad: Core Themes

IIE will lead the Generation Study Abroad coalition in creating an ongoing dialogue about the need for students to gain international experience, identify and break down barriers hindering students from studying abroad, share strategies on how to get young people and their families to consider study abroad earlier in life, and mobilize additional financial resources.

  • Awareness & Advocacy: Conduct a proactive media and outreach campaign, and issue a public call to action to increase study abroad; engage new audiences in the commitment; and build a pipeline for college study abroad.
  • Research & Recognition: A significant part of Generation Study Abroad will focus on enhancing data collection efforts to better track study abroad and motivations for study abroad, and recognize colleges and universities for outstanding efforts in study abroad. In particular, Generation Study Abroad will focus on expanding efforts for data collection on non-credit and graduate study abroad and conduct further research and awareness into duration, diversity and destinations of programs.
  • Advice & Training: Publish and make available study abroad resources to support U.S. higher education institutions in expanding study abroad capacity. For example, The Forum on Education Abroad will make available to Generation Study Abroad partners an exclusive version of its Quality Improvement Program (QUIP) to provide partners with strategies to meet their goals for increasing the number of their study abroad students.
  • Scholarships & Grants: Establish an IIE Study Abroad Fund to reduce financial barriers and create pathways to study abroad.

The Generation Study Abroad Award recognizes individuals and organizations that encourage purposeful, innovative action to get more Americans to undertake an international experience by supporting IIE's "Generation Study Abroad," a 5-year initiative to double the number of U.S. students studying abroad by the end of the decade.

Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Trade & Protocol Council on their receipt of the 2015 IIE Generation Study Abroad Award. The Tampa Bay Trade & Protocol Council is an international organization that promotes the Tampa Bay region internationally for trade and protocol, connects companies and institutions with international opportunities, and educates the public on topics related to the international economy. 

The work of the Tampa Bay Trade and Protocol Council serves as a model for cross-sectoral partnerships and cross-border collaboration. Their recent work with the City of South Dublin, Ireland, and local universities, who are Generation Study Abroad Partners, is a great example of how they are integrating study abroad into their work.

Learn more about the Tampa Bay Trade and Protocol Council


Photo: Chrysler Group LLC awardee, Sergio Marchionne, with Shawn Carter Foundation awardee Dania DiazShawn Carter Foundation for the outstanding contributions that the Shawn Carter Foundation has made in partnership with IIE and the U.S. Department of State's Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program to launch the Shawn Carter-Gilman International Scholarships. These scholarships increase access to higher education for underserved students and provide opportunities for these students to study abroad as a critical part of expanding their horizons as they prepare for successful careers.

Learn more about the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program

The 1920s

University of Delaware Students studying abroad in Spain, 1920s

  • 1922: First IIE Reciprocal Student Exchange Program initiated between the U.S. and Czechoslovakia
  • 1923: Inaugurates an international exchange program between the U.S. and Great Britain, inviting debating teams from Oxford and Cambridge to visit American and Canadian colleges and universities.
  • 1924: Steamship lines install Student Third Class passage as a result of IIE advocacy.
  • 1927: Organizes a committee to supervise Junior Year Abroad scholarships and encourages the expansion of the Junior Year Abroad.
  • 1929: Administers more than 250 Fellowships for U.S. and foreign students worth almost a quarter of a million dollars

The 1930s

IIE Grantees from Barnard in the 1930s

  • 1930: Twenty American students receive grants to study at the Institute of Art and Archaeology in Paris in the first arts exchange program developed by the Institute.
  • 1934: Sponsors a Summer Institute in Soviet Civilization at Moscow University for American students.
  • 1935: Created the framework for Latin America-U.S. student and faculty exchanges through the Convention for the Promotion of Inter-American Cultural Relations.
  • 1936: American-Chinese Student Exchange established by the Institute, making it the first IIE study abroad opportunity for Americans in Asia.

The 1940s

President Truman and Senator Fulbright

  • 1947: IIE and CIES asked by U.S. Government to administer the Fulbright Educational Exchange Program.
  • Also, in 1947 arranges for more than 4,000 Americans to go to Europe to aid in reconstruction.

The 1950s

  • 1957: Surveys 1,298 colleges and universities on the subject of undergraduate study abroad, and publishes the findings in Foreign Study for U.S. Undergraduates, which continue as the annual publications "Academic Year Abroad" and "Short Term Study Abroad." U.S. Fulbright Students in Germany, 1950s

 

 

 

The 1960s

In the 1960s, the number of U.S. university sponsored study abroad programs increased exponentially. IIE formed partnerships with academic leaders to establish standards for effective programs.

The 1970s

1971: Under Project City Streets, IIE provides exchange opportunities for members of U.S. minority groups. Programs are developed for the Puerto Rican community of New York City and summer study opportunities are made available for Native American leaders to travel to Israel and focus on the kibbutz system and small scale industry in arid regions.

The 1980s

  • 1986: IIE and the Soviet Ministry of Education sign a letter of intent to negotiate an agreement for an exchange of U.S. and U.S.S.R. undergraduates. The following year, the first U.S.-U.S.S.R. student exchange takes place under joint sponsorship of the Institute and the Soviet State Committee for Public Education.
  • 1987: International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality and increasing the quantity of international exchanges in the literary, performing, and visual arts, merges into IIE.

The 1990s

  • 1990: IIE also joined the Council for International Educational Exchange (CIEE) and NAFSA: Association of International Educators to convene a National Task Force on Undergraduate Education Abroad. Its report, A National Mandate for Education Abroad: Getting on with the Task, calls for integrating foreign study into regular degree programs and assuring that at least 10 percent of U.S. undergraduates study abroad. Fewer than 2 percent do so now.
  • 1992: Chosen to administer new U.S. government initiatives, including a USAID-funded program for MBA students to learn and serve in developing countries.
  • 1993: Selected for the administration of the undergraduate portion of the new National Security Education Program, aimed at strengthening the international competence of U.S. citizens.
  • 1997: The Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund (JFMF) Teacher Program was established to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Fulbright Program. Fully funded by the Government of Japan and administered by the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund office of the Japan-United States Educational Commission (JUSEC), the program provided American primary and secondary school teachers and administrators with short-term study tours of Japan. IIE was the contracting agency that coordinated promotion, application processing, preliminary selection, and pre-departure arrangements.

The 2000s

Brianna Moland

  • From 2001 to 2009: Freeman-ASIA (Freeman Awards for Study in Asia) supported over 4,000 U.S. undergraduates, with demonstrated financial need, from more than 600 institutions with their study abroad plans in East and Southeast Asia. The program’s goal was to increase the number of Americans with first-hand exposure to and understanding of Asia and its peoples and cultures.
  • 2001: The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program was initiated to diversify the kinds of students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they go.
  • 2000- 2012: The Flinn Scholars Summer Seminar, organized by IIE’s European Office in Budapest, was a short-term study abroad experience in Central & Eastern Europe. The program, sponsored by the Flinn A Student Guide to Study Abroad 2013Foundation, is a component of the Flinn Scholars Program, which provides full scholarships for four-year degree programs offered through Arizona's public university system.
  • Also in 2001, IIE created the Andrew Heiskell Awards For Innovation in International Education to promote and honor the most outstanding initiatives being conducted in international higher education by IIENetwork member universities and colleges.
  • 2013: published A Student Guide to Study Abroad with AIFS and co-author Stacie Berdan.

© 2016 Institute of International Education, Inc. All rights reserved.