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IIE commits US$2m to double US students abroad

Leading international education and training organisation The Institute of International Education (IIE) has launched a US$2 million five-year initiative to double the number of US college students studying abroad.

The initiative aims to increase the number of US students studying abroad to from 295,000 in 2011-12 to 600,000 by 2019.The initiative aims to increase the number of US students studying abroad to from 295,000 in 2011-12 to 600,000 by 2019.

IIE and its partners will also work to address the issue of diversity among students going abroad

“We want to change the paradigm of study abroad so that it is a career-enhancing necessity of a college degree”

Generation Study Abroad (GSA) aims to enable 600,000 students to study abroad annually by 2019, to coincide with IIE’s centenary celebrations– a significant increase from the 295,000 US students who studied abroad in 2011-12.

Organisers say that integral to the initiative are collaborations with the private sector to show that study abroad is a “career-enhancing necessity of a college degree”.

IIE will build a Study Abroad Fund to provide grants for institutions and student scholarships as well as launch the IIE Passport Awards for Study Abroad, which will provide study abroad grants for students from inner-city high schools.

It hopes to identify 500 US colleges and universities that will pledge to either double or significantly increase the number of students they send abroad. Already almost 160 higher education institutions have  signed up to “specific and measurable actions” in the form of fundraising targets in order to provide more scholarships or addressing curricular barriers to study abroad.

“We believe that being part of a larger initiative like this will really provide the network and resources to support the efforts of campuses to increase study abroad,” Daniel Obst, IIE’s Deputy Vice President for International Partnerships, said.

As well as for-credit courses, GSA will encourage students to explore international internships and other not-for-credit options, which it will facilitate through links with private sector organisations running internship programmes and sponsoring scholarships.

“The private sector is very important to this initiative… we want to change the paradigm of study abroad so that it is a career-enhancing necessity of a college degree,” Obst explained.

He added that private sector participation will help to equip students with skills such as cross-cultural awareness and languages. “We know that employers cite those type of soft skills that are acquired through a study abroad experience as key to their success,” he said.

IIE and its partners will also work to address the issue of diversity among students going abroad, taking into account factors such as ethnicity, socio-academic background and areas of study.

“We believe that being part of a larger initiative like this will really provide the network and resources to support the efforts of campuses to increase study abroad”

Cross departmental support will come from the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, along with a number of HE associations and study abroad providers. IIE has also formed partnerships with government bodies in eight countries including Germany, France and Japan.

A one-day think tank with leaders from the public, private and educational sectors has been organised for March 12 to consider what it will take to double study abroad figures.

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