A short hop over the pond

June 10, 2010

Your article "UK influence abroad at risk from lack of overseas study" (3 June) fails to mention American studies, an important subject that has promoted study abroad since the Fulbright Act of 1946 was put in place to foster US-UK educational exchange. The interdisciplinary BA in American studies has, from its institutional development in the UK in the 1980s, made the accredited "year abroad in the USA" a central component of the four-year degree (or "semester abroad" within a three-year degree).

The 30 departments, centres and programmes of American studies in the UK show a healthy range of year-abroad practices across single, joint and combined honours degrees. American studies emphasises the primacy of study abroad for its intellectual and experiential benefits. Sometimes the cost of a full academic year abroad is prohibitive for undergraduates, but the development of degrees that embed an accredited year abroad within a four-year structure is an important strategy to meet British Council chief executive Martin Davidson's call to increase the proportion of students studying overseas.

Martin Halliwell, Chair, British Association for American Studies.

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