The Institute of International Education (IIE) has officially launched Generation Study Abroad, a five-year initiative that brings leaders in education, business and governments together to double the number of U.S. college students studying abroad. IIE has already identified more than 150 lead partners who have committed to specific, measureable actions that will help reach this ambitious goal; the result will be thousands more American students graduating with the international experience necessary for success in a globalized world. Organizations can learn more and sign on at the Generation Study Abroad website.
Leading up to IIE’s centennial celebration in 2019, Generation Study Abroad will engage educators at all levels and stakeholders in the public and private sectors to drive meaningful, innovative action to increase the number of U.S. students who have the opportunity to gain international experience through academic study abroad programs, as well as internships, service learning and non-credit educational experiences.
Building on its nearly 100-year commitment to study abroad, IIE has committed $2 million of its own funds to this initiative over the next five years. IIE is also actively raising funds for a Study Abroad Fund to provide scholarships to college and high school students and grants to institutions. Thanks to lead gifts by IIE Chairman Thomas S. Johnson and IIE Treasurer Mark A. Angelson, IIE will launch a new scholarship program, the IIE Passport Awards for Study Abroad, to provide supplemental grants for students from inner-city high schools to study abroad when they are in college.
More than 150 higher education institutions from 41 U.S. states have already signed the Generation Study Abroad Commitment, including large state and private universities, liberal arts colleges, community colleges, and historically black colleges and universities and other minority serving institutions. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and several foreign governments, as well as key higher education associations and study abroad provider organizations, have also pledged to support the goals of the initiative. Recognizing the importance of an internationally focused workforce, IIE is also actively seeking the participation of corporations and the business community.
IIE is seeking 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. Later phases include mobilizing 1,000 high school teachers and engaging 10,000 alumni and students. IIE welcomes others to join this important initiative.
IIE is launching Generation Study Abroad because the number and proportion of today’s students who graduate with an educational experience abroad is far too low. Currently, fewer than 10% of all U.S. college students study abroad at some point in their academic career. According to the Open Doors Report on International and Educational Exchange released last November, 295,000 students studied abroad in 2011/12 in credit-bearing and non-credit programs. Generation Study Abroad aims to grow participation in study abroad so that the annual total reported will reach 600,000 by the end of the decade.
IIE recognizes that it will take time, resources and a perceptual shift to overcome barriers and bring about such change.
“Globalization has changed the way the world works, and employers are increasingly looking for workers who have international skills and expertise,” says Dr. Allan Goodman, President of IIE. “Studying abroad must be viewed as an essential component of a college degree and critical to preparing future leaders.”
With 2.6 million students graduating with associates or baccalaureate degrees each year, it is clear that major segments of America’s young people are not getting the international experience they will need to advance their careers and participate in the global economy, or to work together across borders to address global issues.
Every institution faces its own unique set of challenges in getting more students to study abroad. Private liberal arts colleges in particular have historically been successful in making study abroad a part of their academic experience. But institutions of varying sizes and types with different missions and capabilities are developing innovative efforts to make study abroad more accessible to their students. By sharing best practices, campuses can learn from each other to extend international opportunities to a broader group of students from diverse backgrounds and fields.
IIE will lead the Generation Study Abroad coalition in creating an ongoing dialogue about the need for students to gain international experience. This will include research to identify and break down barriers hindering students from studying abroad, communications to share strategies and best practices to increase study abroad, and fundraising to mobilize additional financial resources. In addition to significantly expanding study abroad, the campaign will track campus activities that expand diversity in race and ethnicity, academic disciplines and gender.