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More outbound champions needed in UKHE

Despite the year-on-year rise in UK students spending part of their degree programme overseas, there is still work to be done to turn academics into study abroad advocates, the head of the UK’s Go International campaign has said.

Despite the number of UK students going abroad rising, institutional barriers still remain. Photo: go.international.ac.uk

"What you want is to create a mind-set and a culture of mobility in that it’s expected"

The rise in UK tuition fees to £9,000, academic pressures as well as part-time jobs and accommodation commitments, are often factors discouraging students from studying abroad.

However, Anne Marie Graham, head of the Go International programme, told The PIE News that she thinks the “biggest barrier is actually the institution themselves.”

“There is some work to be done to convince the wider academic community”

“What you want is to create a mind-set and a culture of mobility in that it’s expected,” she said. “Because without that you’ll never really see a rapid increase, so it’s not a marginal activity but it’s embedded in the institution itself.”

Go International was launched by the UK HE International Unit to increase the number of UK students with an international experience.

Supported by the UK government, it works to tackle the barriers to outward student mobility.

Graham commented that having a national strategy gives legitimacy to the campaign, as some academic tutors may dissuade students from going abroad.

“There is some work to be done to convince the wider academic community,” she said.

“There are many out there that know or believe or have witnessed the transformative effect, so there are lots of champions in the academic community and that’s what we’re looking to draw out.”

Study abroad coordinators and directors discussed the barriers preventing more UK students from studying abroad at the Go International 2015: Innovation and Motivation conference this week.

According to the Gone International report published in March, only 4.5% of 2013 graduates had study abroad for three consecutive months or more abroad. This is well below the European Union goal to have 20% of students graduate with an outbound experience by 2020 which the UK government has committed to.

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