US: Innovative website helps with study abroad

An internet-based service informing students how best to live and study abroad has released a '10 Step Guide' of advice, which universities could offer their foreign scholars. The founders of Boston-based Abroad101.com were inspired by the study abroad experience of childhood friends who realised the benefits of travelling and learning abroad while completing their university degree.

Adam Miller and Mike Stone developed the online service in 2007 as a database of information providing students, parents and universities with an all-inclusive port to evaluate, recommend and search for information on the various study abroad programmes offered by universities worldwide.

Their 10-point guide - now being promoted by their online blog - has practical steps that would-be overseas students can take. These are broken into logical sections such as the need to check their motivation for overseas studies; list requirements and restrictions; research courses based on their preferences; deal with immigration issues; secure funding; and so on.

Miller developed his skills as a website designer while studying at MIT in Boston in Massachusetts along with Stone who studied at Harvard. They began developing the concept of a study abroad database by conducting focus groups with students, parents as well as university administrators.

What they discovered was a serious discrepancy of available information: "[There was a] lack of ability to assess the quality of student-study abroad programmes," said Miller in an interview with University World News.

"The higher education community in the US as it relates to study abroad is not flushed with cash."

So Abroad101.com has two distinct functions: it allows universities to use the website as an evaluation tool for their own foreign study programmes while offering students a forum to discuss and read reviews of these services.

"We recognise that study abroad is such a meaningful experience for many people but only 6% of college students in the [United] States study abroad," said Miller. "We realised there wasn't enough information available to students and families to make well-researched and meaningful decisions about study abroad programmes."