Idea 6: secure buy-in from the top of institutions in order to mandate change

In order for institutions to change, there must be both a top-down and bottom-up approach. Trustees, Boards and the Office of the President must work to convey that study abroad needs to move from the periphery to the mainstream on campuses, and they must follow through on their statements to ensure implementation throughout.

  • Convene a summit of college and university presidents and provosts, as well as policy makers and students, to discuss how to effect change on a local and national level.
  • Encourage leadership to take a public stand on the importance of international experiences and to make sure their relatively new “internationalization of the campus” messages become a reality (not just words from on high).
  • Create a toolkit for campus leadership—key messages, case studies and powerful statistics—for them to use and share. 
  • Communicate that the campaign is for all colleges and universities, not just those institutions already most active in study abroad; identify institutions that have less experience with study abroad and offer to pair them with a mentor institution that has made great strides.
  • Present the benefits of study abroad at conferences where presidents and faculty attend, making sure to include models and success stories. 
  • Give them ideas on how to integrate pre-study abroad awareness into the admissions process, such as offering financial incentives to students for study abroad participation, including a free passport photo along with the student ID photo, setting up passport day and inviting a local passport office/U.S. Post Office to set up on campus, paying for students’ passports, and including foreign inoculations and medical exams in university health plans.

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This blog entry summarizes Idea 6 of 11 “Big Ideas” brainstormed during IIE’s Generation Study Abroad Think Tank event in March 2014. They are compiled in the IIE Green Paper, “What will it take to Double Study Abroad?”