"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?
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.
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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.
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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.
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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, 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.
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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.
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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.
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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. As the initiative expands over the next five years, the plan is to involve students, parents, teachers and employers as well.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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 the coming year. In the meantime, we encourage everyone who's 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; to subscribe to receive Generation Study Abroad updates via our website; and to follow #generationstudyabroad on Twitter and Facebook for news and announcements.
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Q: How can teachers get involved?
A: We encourage primary and secondary school teachers to get involved by talking 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 a study abroad program. Teachers who are interested in getting international experience to bring back to their classrooms can subscribe to IIE's Global Opportunities for Teachers newsletter. Generation Study Abroad will roll out specific actions for how teachers can get involved in the coming year. In the meantime, they can subscribe to receive Generation Study Abroad updates via our website, and follow #generationstudyabroad on Twitter and Facebook for news and announcements.
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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 competiveness 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.”
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.
On September 15th, IIE presented the inaugural Generation Study Abroad Award to the Shawn 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
IIE will launch a Generation Study Abroad Dashboard and report on progress each year in its annual report.
In addition to tracking commitments by those who have pledged, IIE will assess the overall efforts to double the numbers against the 2019 Open Doors Report.
The Institute will publish and make available its research findings and convene annual gatherings for commitment partners and other interested stakeholders to determine if and how far the dialogue on study abroad has been recast as an integral part of education on the national stage.
As the first step in bringing stakeholders from different sectors together to achieve large-scale change, IIE convened a one-day Think Tank on March 12 on what it will take to double study abroad, gathering invited leaders from the public, private and educational sectors at its New York headquarters. The community is invited to view the “green paper” documenting the outcomes of that discussion and offer comments and new ideas, through September 1. IIE will publish the paper this fall, with the addition of input from readers.