IIE Center for Access and Equity Enters Partnership to Support Diverse Student Participation in Study Abroad

The Center Will Collaborate With U.S.-based Nonprofit, Council for Opportunity in Education, to Expand Study Abroad Opportunities for Promising Students

WASHINGTON, February 26, 2024 — The IIE Center for Access and Equity entered a new partnership with the Council for Opportunity in Education, a nationally recognized United States-based nonprofit organization dedicated to furthering the expansion of college opportunities for low-income and first-generation students, as well as students with disabilities. The Center follows a community-building model, enlisting institutions and individuals across the field to develop practices and programming that equitably expand access to international education, exchange, and opportunity for all. 

Students and their families may be apprehensive about studying abroad, due to financial and social barriers. Research suggests that students who opted to study abroad broadly experience positive academic, professional, and personal outcomes. For example, while Pew Research Center found that only about 20% of first-generation college students complete their degrees, 94% of first-generation students who studied abroad earned their undergraduate degree, according to CASSIE.

In the new partnership, the Center and COE will enhance and support existing and new programming and activities, including the Center’s American Passport Project and COE’s study abroad programming and TRIO network. Federal TRIO Programs help students to overcome economic, social, academic, and cultural barriers to higher education; nearly one million low-income students and students with disabilities receive college access and retention services through COE member colleges and agencies each year. In addition, the organizations will share and collaborate on informational resources and convene subject matter experts to engage with students and advisors through educational webinars, COE’s Keith Sherin Global Leaders program, and the COE Annual Conference.

“The push for greater access and inclusivity in the field of education is a long-term, collaborative practice. When organizations like the Council for Opportunity in Education join us, it affirms that IIE is going in the right direction,” said Courtney Temple, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer at IIE.

“For more than 20 years, COE has been providing pathways for low-income, first-generation students to participate in study abroad programs,” said COE President Kimberly A. Jones. “We are excited that we can enhance these offerings and gain a new level of access through our partnership with IIE.”

“Support systems are integral to going beyond access and delivering equity in education. COE and the TRIO programs have provided significant support for diverse students across the U.S. We share a mission to provide access to historically underrepresented or underserved students, and we see this partnership as a prime opportunity to include global learning and international education in the ecosystem of support for these students,” added Lindsay Gee Calvert, Director of the IIE Center for Access and Equity.

TRIO programs provide direct support services for students, and relevant training for directors and staff. COE works in conjunction with more than 1,000 colleges, universities, and agencies across the U.S. and Puerto Rico to help low-income students enter college and graduate.

“My experience with the TRIO programs was transformative, providing me with the support and resources needed to succeed in higher education,” said Sylvia Jons, a TRIO alumna and current Lead of Higher Education Initiatives at IIE. “It’s incredibly meaningful to see IIE CAE and COE partner, as it signifies a collective effort to expand opportunities for students facing similar challenges. I’m excited to see the positive impact of this partnership and the doors it will open for future generations of students.”

Financial and social barriers are reasons why low-income students are being left behind. According to COE’s research arm, the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, low-income college students earn bachelor’s degrees at a rate that is less than half of their high-income peers — 21% compared with 45%. TRIO programs have long been shown to significantly improve the success of first-generation college students as they matriculate, bridging critical knowledge and financial gaps. Through the partnership, the Center and COE seek to infuse study abroad and international education into well-established TRIO programs so that more first-generation college students are aware of the educational, experiential, and financial opportunities in study abroad. 

Since the IIE Center for Equity and Access launched in March 2023, this is the Center’s third formal partnership. IIE has partnered with Dickinson College, focusing on the creation of mutually beneficial learning opportunities for participants, organizations, and countries. Models of Change: Equity and Inclusion in Action in International Education, the Center’s joint publication with Dickinson, was released in October. In November, IIE launched its partnership with Leaders of the Free World to boost Black male student participation in study abroad and further contribute to global leadership development for this historically underrepresented student population. In addition, the Center’s American Passport Project — a grant aiming to assist 10,000 Pell-eligible U.S. students to obtain U.S. passports to study abroad by the end of the decade — received a 2023 AAUA Khaladjan International Award for Innovation in Higher Education in 2023.

About the IIE Center for Access and Equity
The IIE Center for Access and Equity aims to advance accessible programming and equitable practices in community building that enrich and expand international education, exchange, and opportunity for all. Through dialogue and action, the Center leverages programs and partnerships that examine the intersection of international education with diversity, equity, inclusion, and access; cultivates global learning to support engagement and understanding of individuals and communities; and supports access for underrepresented communities by examining and addressing structural inequities. Learn more at www.iie.org/CAE.

About the Institute of International Education
The Institute of International Education (IIE) is the leader in designing and implementing international education strategies and program services. We work with governments, 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. With support from donors, we also create initiatives that assist students, scholars, and artists whose lives and work are threatened; expand teaching and learning across cultures; and provide opportunities to underserved populations. A not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has an extensive network of offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,600 higher education partners. Learn more at www.iie.org.

About COE
The Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) is a nonprofit organization, established in 1981, dedicated to furthering the expansion of college opportunities for low-income, first-generation students, and students with disabilities in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., the Pacific Islands, and Puerto Rico. Its membership includes more than 1,000 colleges and agencies. Through its numerous membership services, the Council works in conjunction with colleges, universities, and agencies to help low-income students enter college and graduate. Over a million low-income students and students with disabilities each year receive college access and retention services through member colleges and agencies. Learn more at

About the Federal TRIO Programs
TRIO programs (Talent Search, Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math-Science, Veterans Upward Bound, Student Support Services, Educational Opportunity Centers, and the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program) help students overcome economic, social, academic, and cultural barriers to higher education. TRIO services include assistance in choosing a college and tutoring; personal, financial, and career counseling; assistance in applying to college; workplace and college visits; special instruction in reading, writing, study skills, and mathematics; assistance in applying for financial aid; and academic assistance in high school or assistance to reenter high school or college. Learn more at www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/trio/index.html

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