Campaign Helps Colleges Boost Study Abroad Participation

  • 12 campuses recognized for meeting their Generation Study Abroad pledges
  • District of Columbia Public Schools System receives award for K-12 international programs

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 24, 2016—A national campaign to increase the number and diversity of American college students who study abroad by 2020 is helping campuses to set clear study abroad goals and drive results. At its 2016 Summit in Washington DC this week, IIE’s Generation Study Abroad initiative recognized 12 U.S. higher education institutions that have already exceeded their goals to boost study abroad participation among their students. These institutions are the first to meet or exceed their goals among the more than 700 colleges and organizations that have joined Generation Study Abroad since its launch two years ago.

The universities and colleges that have met their Generation Study Abroad commitments are the College of Charleston, Davidson County Community College, Knox College, Lamar University, Pellissippi State Community College, Sacred Heart University, SUNY Oswego, SUNY Plattsburgh, The New School, University of South Alabama, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Upper Iowa University.  The diversity of the 12 higher education institutions that have met or exceeded their goals early demonstrate how all institutional types – community colleges, arts schools, private liberal arts colleges, and public research universities alike – can incorporate study abroad into the American undergraduate experience.

Evidence indicates that students who study abroad have better grades, experience less attrition and graduate from college at higher rates than students who do not study abroad, and have a competitive edge on the job market – yet fewer than 10% of American undergraduates study abroad and only one quarter of those are from underrepresented groups. In recent years, the Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange has shown modest increases in study abroad, but it will take bold action to reach the ambitious goal of doubling study abroad.

The 2016 IIE Summit on Generation Study Abroad convened more than 600 education, government and business leaders and journalists to engage in hands-on learning and thinking outside the box, by exploring innovative action plans, exchanging effective tools and experimenting with new approaches.

“Just two years after joining Generation Study Abroad, colleges and universities across the country are seeing measurable results in their study abroad participation rates,” said Allan Goodman, IIE’s president and CEO. “Studying abroad is one of the best ways to prepare to enter and succeed in the interconnected, globalized workforce, yet 90% of American college students do not study or intern outside of the United States. We owe it to the next generation of Americans to explain why study abroad is more crucial than ever and to find ways to make it more accessible to a wider range of students.”

IIE’s latest survey of partners indicate that the network has raised more than $55 million for student scholarships to study abroad. Ten of the U.S. colleges reported that they are considering adding a study abroad requirement, and 70% of the partner higher education institutions reported that they are integrating study abroad into their curricula.

To build a pipeline of American students with a global perspective, IIE’s Generation Study Abroad network also includes over 1,000 U.S. teachers who have pledged to be study abroad advocates in their classrooms.

At the Summit, IIE presented the District of Columbia Public Schools System (DCPS) with its Generation Study Abroad Award, in recognition of the outstanding contributions it has made toward providing equitable access to study abroad opportunities for K-12 students in Washington, DC. In the spring of 2016, DCPS launched a fully-funded Study Abroad Program for 8th and 11th grade students. More than 400 educators and students who were enrolled in a world language course participated in short-term language immersion, global leadership, or service learning trips earlier this year.

IIE Generation Study Abroad Scholarships have provided financial support to 300 high school and college students.  Commitment partners have also received funding through special grants and scholarships offered by study abroad organizations in the Generation Study Abroad network such as CIEE, IES Abroad and AIFS. Partner campuses have also been successful in encouraging their students to apply for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which makes study abroad funding available to undergraduate Pell Grant recipients.

Country partners, including France, Ireland, and New Zealand, have offered scholarships for American students to study in their respective countries.  Many of the nearly 200 international universities, organizations and government entities that are part of the Generation Study Abroad network are collaborating with U.S. colleges to improve credit transfer and offering new short -term programs.

The 700 partners that have joined Generation Study Abroad to help prepare more American students for an increasingly global workforce include 408 U.S. colleges and universities from 48 states; 189 international universities and organizations from 50 countries; 23 education associations; more than 100 organizations including study abroad, K-12, and social network agencies; 18 country partners and the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Lead sponsors for the IIE Summit include the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS), IES Abroad, Via TRM, CIEE, the American Councils for International Education, Terra Dotta and Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University. Programming partners include: AFS Intercultural Programs, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), Alliance on International Educational Exchange, Asia Society, British Council, Embassy of Finland, Education in Ireland, Embassy of Mexico, Embassy of New Zealand, European American Chamber of Commerce, GO Overseas, National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), Norwegian Embassy, The New York Times in Education.  Media Partners are the Diplomatic Courier, The PIE News, and América Economía.

Backgrounder: How Campuses Are Meeting Their Iie Generation Study Abroad Goals

The 12 campuses that have met their goals enacted solutions to address the three most common barriers to studying abroad: cost, culture and curriculum. Their strategies included creating short-term study abroad trips for freshman, designating faculty members as study abroad advisors, creating a database of study abroad programs according to field of study, and incentivizing study in non-traditional destinations with larger scholarships.

Growth in study abroad rates come as more campuses intentionally design study abroad programs to simultaneously meet curriculum requirements and student interests; such programs often include short-term and faculty-led trips.

The universities and colleges that have met their Generation Study Abroad commitments are the College of Charleston, Davidson County Community College, Knox College, Lamar University, Pellissippi State Community College, Sacred Heart University, SUNY Oswego, SUNY Plattsburgh, The New School, University of South Alabama, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Upper Iowa University.

  • A large public university in Beaumont, Texas, Lamar University doubled the number of students who study abroad since 2011/12 by significantly expanding its study abroad office and scaling-up targeted outreach to current and prospective students.  “Study abroad is not the same on every campus,” said Dr. Jeff Palis, the Director of Global Studies and Study Abroad at Lamar University. He advises other campuses to “understand your student body and their financial obstacles, and address them.”
  • Pellissippi State Community College, located in Knoxville, Tennessee, met its Generation Study Abroad commitment by offering scholarships to all students who studied abroad. In addition, the college offered larger scholarships for students seeking to study in non-traditional destinations outside of Western Europe, the most popular destination among American students who study or intern abroad, according to IIE’s most recent Open Doors Report on International Education Exchange.
  • The College of Charleston, a public liberal arts and sciences university in South Carolina, boosted the study abroad participation rate by offering short-term study abroad trips for first year students, as well as scholarships that can cover as much as 75% of study abroad costs.
  • Sacred Heart University, a private liberal arts college in Connecticut, met its goal by creating an online database organized by major and destinations, in order to better align study abroad programs with the college’s curriculum and help students choose from the many available options.
  • North Carolina’s Davidson County Community College has been able to boost study abroad interest, participation and funding with institutional grants made available through the Generation Study Abroad network. In 2015, Davidson received an Ireland-IIE Generation Study Abroad Grant, which enabled them to award students scholarships worth $2,500 each to study in Ireland. A Lead Signature Partner, the Government of Ireland contributed to IIE’s Generation Study Abroad Fund to incentivize study in Ireland and promote cross-cultural exchange. This year, the college is hosting fellow Generation Study Abroad commitment partner CIEE, which will provide students with free passports as part of the CIEE Passport Caravan; so far, 150 students have applied for an available 60 free passports. Davidson Country Community College also received a Capacity Building Grant for U.S. Undergraduate Study Abroad from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which is also a Generation Study Abroad commitment partner. With the grant, the college is building a study abroad program to Guatemala, expected to launch in 2017.

To learn more about each campus’s strategy for exceeding its Generation Study Abroad commitment, please visit

About Generation Study Abroad

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. More than 700 partners have joined the Generation Study Abroad initiative to date, including 400 U.S. colleges and universities from 48 states as well as higher education institutions and organizations in other countries, education associations, organizations including study abroad, K-12, and social network agencies and 19 country partners. The initiative highlights IIE’s commitment to study abroad and to encouraging 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 (IIE) is the leader in providing international education strategies and program services. Our international approach to education—diverse, borderless, impactful—is a proven way for governments and companies to invest in global talent and solidify overseas relationships. We work with policymakers, educators and employers across the globe to prepare students and professionals for the global workforce and equip them to solve the increasingly complex challenges facing our interconnected world. An independent, not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE designs and implements over 250 programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government and private sources. IIE has a network of 19 offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,400 member institutions.


Public Affairs