US universities and study abroad organisations have committed to spend $185 million (£122 million) over the next five years to make study abroad more accessible, through the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) Generation Study Abroad initiative.
The money will be used to provide support to students, faculty and programming and is aimed at students that are typically under-represented in study abroad programmes.
Of the 350 US colleges and universities that have signed up to the initiative, 84 per cent said that they plan to create or expand study abroad scholarships for under-represented students, such as minority, ethnic and first-generation students, according to a new report from IIE, Generation Study Abroad: Year One Impact, which details the results of a survey of organisations that have made “actionable commitments” since the initiative was launched in March 2014.
Although minority students make up nearly 40 per cent of all US higher education enrolments, they represent less than 25 per cent of those who take apart in study abroad, according to IIE.
Generation Study Abroad aims to double the number of American students who study abroad by the end of the decade; fewer than 10 per cent of US college students currently spend time studying abroad, according to IIE.
The report also found that 91 per cent of US institutions are creating or expanding for-credit international programmes, 64 per cent are increasing the number of programmes that require or offer a study abroad component and 71 per cent will increase finances for faculty members to develop and lead study abroad programmes. More than half (54 per cent) of US institutions said that they are implementing fee waivers or travel grants for study abroad programmes.
Furthermore, 77 per cent of the 100 partner colleges and universities outside the US have pledged to create or expand short-term study abroad opportunities. In total, more than 650 organisations have joined the initiative.
The IIE said that doubling study abroad by the end of the decade would require a 14.5 per cent annual rate of growth but there was only a 2 per cent increase in 2012-13.
IIE president Allan Goodman said: “Studying abroad is one of the best ways American college students can acquire the international experience necessary to succeed in today’s global workforce and address important issues in the world we share.”