In the fifth instalment of this series created for Project Travel, Steve Vickers discovers the ambitious study abroad initiative that’s trying to give more US students the chance to travel overseas – and the opportunities available elsewhere around the world.
These days, global corporations are actively looking to employ young people who have lots of international experience – especially those who can relate to foreign cultures in our increasingly interconnected world. But as it stands, less than ten percent of US students actually study abroad.
Universities, governments and private companies around the world are joining forces with the non-profit Institute of International Education (IIE) to help send more young students on international adventures. If you’ve ever wanted to study abroad, this is the time to do it.
But why are these organizations all investing so much time and energy in getting more people to study abroad?
“Studying abroad allows students to engage in cultures different from their own – providing unparalleled learning experiences that add a highly valuable component to their degree,” says Cheryl Benner from the study abroad office at Michigan State University (MSU), one of more than two hundred higher education institutions that have already pledged to get more students travelling.
“Study abroad programs can help students accelerate the development of skills that employers are looking for, such as being resourceful and flexible, thinking critically, navigating across boundaries, working effectively in diverse teams and the ability to problem solve.”
Generation study abroad, USA
To help get more American students out into the wider world, hundreds of universities and private companies have committed to the IIE’s Generation Study Abroad initiative, which has a simple aim: to double the number of students studying abroad by 2019.
To achieve this, the organization is aiming to convince a total of five hundred colleges and universities to expand and nurture their existing study abroad programs, boosting the national total in the process.
Another ambitious goal is to get ten educational institutions to make studying abroad a requirement for all of their students. If the IIE succeeds in meeting its targets, around 600,000 US students will be studying abroad by the end of this decade, compared with less than 300,000 in previously.
American students who want to know whether their college or university is taking part in the Generation Study Abroad initiative should check the IIE website. There’s also information on some of the scholarships available to students who want to spend time studying overseas.
Studying abroad, worldwide
It isn’t only American colleges and universities that are taking part; higher education institutions as far afield as Australia, Japan, Russia and the UK have all made similar pledges. A dozen foreign governments have also committed to helping the IIE meet its targets.
If you’re a European student hoping to learn overseas, for example, check out the Erasmus+ study abroad program. Unveiled by the European Union in 2013, it has similar aims to Generation Study Abroad, and sees students across the continent receiving grants for training and education away from their home country.
Funding your trip
Of course, finding out about study abroad opportunities is only half the battle – students must be able to fund their trips too. This is where websites like Tripsidize and Project Travel, partner of this piece, come in to help people raise money for foreign trips.
This can be an effective way for people who might not have been able to study abroad before to attract donors and raise funds for their trip.
This article is part of a continuing series covering study abroad programs with Project Travel, a company that helps students of all ages tap into the funding potential of their communities. Visit projecttravel.com/go/rough-guides for more information.