Australian universities to help boost US study abroad

Five Australian universities are contributing to an American initiative to encourage more United States students to go abroad by promoting education opportunities on their campuses.

Launched by the US Institute of International Education, or IIE, the Generation Study Abroad initiative aims to double the number of American students going overseas to study by the end of the decade.

According to the IIE’s Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, 295,000 US students went overseas in 2011-12 to undertake credit-bearing and non-credit programmes.

As the report noted, while that number might seem a lot, in fact it represented less than 10% of the 2.6 million students graduating with associate or baccalaureate degrees each year.

The Generation Study Abroad scheme hopes to tackle the shortfall by bringing employers, governments, associations and others together “to build on current best practices and find new ways to extend study abroad opportunities to tens of thousands of students for whom traditional study abroad programmes aren't working”, the report says.

Australian universities

The five Australian universities involved are Monash, Griffith, the University of New South Wales and the University of Western Australia, plus the first private university to open in Australia, Bond University in Queensland.

The Western Australian university announced last week that it intended to double the number of US students on its campus in Perth by establishing 10 new partnerships with American universities and would try to attract 400 students a year.

“We will improve access by offering scholarships of up to A$80,000 [US$69,400] in 2015 to support new and existing partnerships, launch a new fee model to support students from new non-bilateral partners, and recognise US study abroad students as formal alumni of the university,” said Iain Watt, pro vice-chancellor international.

Watt said the US was the most popular destination of choice among University of Western Australia, or UWA, students who went abroad and that the more American students his university accepted, the more Australian students could go to the US through the bilateral partnerships.

“It’s a win-win situation. We are also open to other forms of partnership and very keen to develop innovative study abroad opportunities for US students and warmly welcome proposals from new partners in both countries,” he said.

“At UWA, we emphasise the importance of global awareness and believe that a study abroad experience enhances a student’s global outlook and overall education. This year we welcomed more than 722 study abroad and exchange students from 25 countries including more than 100 from US partner universities.”

Watt said that UWA students who studied abroad travelled to 24 countries each year, including the US where the university has more than 25 partnerships.

The five Australian universities are among 52 international institutions taking part in the initiative. More than 150 US higher education institutions from 41 states have already signed the Generation Study Abroad Commitment. The IIE has committed US$2 million to the initiative over the next five years.