Are We Making Progress Toward Doubling Study Abroad?

Roughly 15 months after IIE launched the Generation Study Abroad® initiative, it’s time to take stock. Are we making progress? Can we achieve our goal of doubling study abroad by the end of the decade? We have built an impressive coalition of educators, parents, students, alumni, and funders who are pledging specific, actionable goals and tangible financial commitments that will contribute significantly to reach our ambitious goal.

Below are a few of the actions IIE and our commitment partners have taken so far. We will release a full progress report on October 1st of this year at our first annual IIE Summit on Generation Study Abroad, which will bring together hundreds of commitment partners from around the world.

  • Nearly 650 commitment partners have joined the initiative, including more than 400 U.S. colleges and universities, 100+ institutions from nearly 50 countries around the world, 120 study abroad organizations, social networks, education associations and other groups, and 14 governments. The commitments that our partners are making (more funding and scholarships, expanding student diversity, better integrating study abroad into the curriculum, launching new programs) are inspiring and will help us get closer to our goal of doubling study abroad.
  • 450 K-12 teachers in all 50 U.S. states have pledged to make their students aware of study abroad and to help us build the pipeline for college study abroad. Teachers are powerful motivators when it comes to encouraging students to pursue any and all types of global study. We are bringing together partners such as National Geographic, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), Asia Society, and Reach the World to help maximize the impact of their great resources and tools.
  • 160 new IIE Generation Study Abroad Scholarships awarded to students, especially those underrepresented in study abroad, at 26 commitment partner colleges and universities, including minority-serving institutions and HBCUs. With funding from IIE, the Government of Ireland, STA Travel, individual donors, as well as matching funds from the campuses, approximately $400,000 in scholarships has been awarded to students in the first round of this new scholarship program. We also mobilized many other scholarships from our international commitment partners. We are currently raising funds for the next round (and we always welcome donations to our IIE Study Abroad Fund).
    We also created the IIE Passport Awards for Study Abroad to open doors to study abroad to students from inner city high schools. Students will receive financial support to defray costs of travel related to studying abroad, mentorship, and a study abroad toolkit. To date, 26 students have received IIE Passport Awards.
  • New resources for advisors, parents and students, including two books published in collaboration with the AIFS Foundation and the author and international careers expert Stacie Nevadomski Berdan: A Student Guide to Study Abroad (available in print and as ebook, and now also for visually impaired students); and the new Parent Guide to Study Abroad that includes practical information for parents including clarifying the value of study abroad, figuring out the financials, staying safe and healthy, and offering the appropriate mix of support. The guide will also be published in Spanish just in time for back-to-school season.
  • Mobilized grants for U.S. institutions to expand international partnerships or create new study abroad programs, made possible by commitment partners such as the Government of France, which provided grants to U.S. and French universities to develop new study abroad programs; or the Government of Norway, which contributed funding for a study tour to Norway to foster relationships between Norwegian and U.S. higher education representatives, paving the way for increased and sustainable student mobility between Norway and the United States.
  • Developed innovative new partnerships with organizations such as the New York Times in Education on an exciting Generation Study Abroad Voices Video Challenge. We are seeking digital submissions from study abroad returnees that demonstrate how study abroad gave them a career edge and the impact it had on their life and the world. (The submission deadline is July 15, so there is still time to submit a video.) And with STA Travel who is now the official travel provider of the Generation Study Abroad initiative. STA Travel will make a contribution to the IIE Study Abroad Fund for each trip booked through STA by students from Generation Study Abroad commitment partner institutions.

We have built momentum and made a lot of progress. If we want to reach our goal doubling study abroad by the end of the decade, we need a study abroad growth rate of about 14.5 percent per year for the next 5 years. We all must reaffirm our commitments and continue to be focused on innovating and creating new, meaningful opportunities for a more diverse group of American students.