How Colleges Are Making Study Abroad Programs More Accessible? While some college students decide to study abroad in order to become more familiar with foreign cultures and languages, others do so in order to develop their job skills or get ready for a prospective career working overseas after graduation.

However, obstacles including expense, family obligations, a lack of course flexibility, and ignorance of the experiences that are offered prohibit many students from studying abroad while in college. Particularly, students of color are underrepresented in these programs: According to the annual 2021 Open Doors report, which is created by the Institute of International Education and the U.S. Department of State, 70% of American students who study abroad are white.

By providing different programs, funding possibilities, and passport assistance, some institutions and charitable groups are attempting to make study abroad programs more approachable.

Cheryl D. Young, associate vice president for global projects at Miami University-Oxford in Ohio, asserts that “every student has a distinct scenario”. Therefore, we must comprehend each student’s unique circumstances and potential barriers to studying abroad and work with them to develop critical thinking skills so that they can do so.

Global Networking and Competence

Nowadays, global abilities and awareness are extremely important to both universities and employers. However, only approximately 10% of undergraduate students in the country go overseas, therefore most college students pass up this chance.

Studying abroad is a fantastic way to stand out from the competition when you’re applying to graduate programs, medical schools, internships, or jobs. You can learn how to approach challenges from a different viewpoint and have the opportunity to view the world through the eyes of a different culture by studying abroad.

How Colleges Are Making Study Abroad Programs More Accessible?

How Colleges Are Making Study Abroad Programs More Accessible? Additionally, you’ll develop a respect for the diversity and cultural standards of different nations as well as a knowledge of various cultures. This demonstrates to potential employers that you are equipped to work in the rapidly transforming global economy.

Every study abroad program also has a connection to your degree or provides a chance for an internship, service-learning project, or research. As a result, you can develop relationships with local employers and businesses, meet professors at your host university, and collaborate with students from around the world.

Cost of Studying Abroad is a Barrier

Study abroad costs vary depending on the college, but typically cover tuition, program fees, accommodation, visas, insurance, air travel, and food. The total cost is also influenced by other elements like excursion costs, host nation, and program length.

Cost of Studying Abroad is a Barrier

When students decide to sign up for tours or take weekend trips abroad, the costs can mount up quickly.

1: Cost

Young advises students to carefully budget for weekend trips as well as incidentals and other unforeseen expenses. “We always warn students to be mindful of the possibility of problems. The train from Paris to Luxembourg City might not run, so be prepared to spend the night in a hostel and have extra money on hand. Any student should be able to study abroad if they do their research and plan ahead sufficiently.”

A student’s financial assistance package, in addition to scholarships, is frequently transferable to a study abroad program, according to experts.


How Colleges Are Making Study Abroad Programs More Accessible? When choosing a degree, a student should take the return on investment into account as well, Caroline Donovan White advised in an email. She works with NAFSA: Association of International Educators, a nonprofit professional association, as senior director of services for education abroad and volunteer involvement.

A 2020 NAFSA/Emsi assessment on the usefulness of study abroad skills in the U.S. labor market found that 70% of students who went abroad reported developing at least some of the qualities employers value, including problem-solving, teamwork, and ambiguity tolerance.

2: Lack of Programming Knowledge

Many students have never traveled overseas or have relatives who have taken part in study abroad programs, so they might not be aware of the alternatives offered by their school.

According to Jann H. Adams, associate vice president for leadership initiatives and lead director of the Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership at Morehouse College in Georgia, “colleges and universities may solve this by sharing information and training students early in their matriculation”.

3: Family Issues

How Colleges Are Making Study Abroad Programs More Accessible? Traveling to a foreign country, especially, raises safety worries.

Family Issues

According to Angela Schaffer, executive director of the Fund for Education Abroad, a nonprofit that awards study abroad scholarships to underrepresented students, families, particularly those of first-generation students, may also believe that their child “has already gone so far as to go to college, so why would they add yet another headache to their journey”.

4: Course Flexibility Is Limited

Some academic programs call for a specific set of classes each semester or work experience. For example, student teaching hours are required for education majors before they can graduate. A student’s ability to travel abroad is frequently limited by this.

Young believes it is up to him and the other foreign education specialists to “discover those methods that students may stay in their time blocks or on their route to graduate on time”.

Access to Global Education Initiatives

According to Russ Ganim, assistant provost and dean of international programs at the University of Iowa, universities must prioritize fundraising for study abroad in order to make it more accessible.

To support students’ global education, UI provides merit- and need-based scholarships as well as a diversity ambassador scholarship. For the autumn and spring semesters, up to 10 $1,000 diversity ambassador grants are given to groups like LGBTQ+ students, first-generation college students, students of color, and students with disabilities.

How Colleges Are Making Study Abroad Programs More Accessible? For both the winter and summer semesters, the same number and amounts of scholarships are given out for international study.

Access to Global Education Initiatives

Adams advised pupils in an email that they should ask their home schools, the overseas school they intend to attend, and any other outside parties participating in the program for support.

While many grants for study abroad only cover program-related expenses, certain universities additionally handle difficulties in getting a passport. For instance, Virginia Commonwealth University is one of 40 universities to receive a grant from the American Passport Project in 2022 from the Institute of International Education.

The money covers the cost of 25 Pell-eligible students’ initial US passports. With VCU’s matching contribution, the total number of grantees rose to 50.

Additionally, there are choices for outside financial support.

Additionally, more than 30 scholarships are available through the Fund for Education Abroad, with priority given to minority students, first-generation college students, community college students, and those in extreme financial need. To be eligible for all of the available scholarships, which vary from up to $5,000 for a semester to $10,000 for an entire academic year, applicants must complete a single form.

According to the nonprofit’s website, more than 850 undergraduate students have received scholarships totaling more than $2.5 million since 2010.

Global Education Initiatives

According to Schaffer, students receive assistance before, during, and after their study abroad programs. Pre-departure seminars are held by FEA to cover topics like how to budget and how to manage several identities while studying abroad. When they return, students mentor their fellow classmates.

These awards “make the children that we deal with feel like they are worthy of investment and recognize not only where they are coming from, but what they aspire to do,” according to Schaffer.

Young claims that it’s crucial to provide a range of cross-cultural course options in order to entice more students to participate in global experiences through studying abroad.

“We can’t just give a pupil what we have to offer and tell them to take it or leave it,” she argues. “Regardless of a student’s identification, we need to grasp what they are seeking.

Create initiatives that matter to our students, or create lessons or opportunities like international internships that will appeal to them. And assist them in arguing their case for doing this to their family or parents.”

How to Pick the Right Program for You?

There are other ways for students to experience other cultures than spending a semester or year abroad. There are shorter schedules available, like during the summer or winter breaks. Additionally, students have the option to engage in international research or internships.

How to Pick the Right Program for You

How Colleges Are Making Study Abroad Programs More Accessible? Experts need students to assess available programs, including duration of stay, course options, and cost, with the help of a study abroad adviser.

According to Ganim of UI, “some students try to discover programs on their own and they can easily do that.” But the best knowledge about programs that will meet a certain student’s needs in terms of courses, internships, career objectives, and budget truly lies with the counselors, not simply in terms of cost.