The case for study abroad is increasingly compelling. Mounting political, economic and societal pressures assert the urgency of globally-connected and interculturally-aware citizens. Since 2011-2012 outgoing study abroad participation rates at UoB have increased by 63% — with 576 students (8.5% of the undergraduate cohort) studying abroad in 2016/17. In the next ten years we can anticipate that a quarter of UoB undergraduates will choose to incorporate an international dimension to their degree study – but what form will this take?
We expect that by 2026 our students will demand a greater degree of choice over how they fit global opportunities into degree study. The current year abroad model is likely to look increasingly one-dimensional and anachronistic. Offering a more diverse suite of both short- and long-term study, work and experiential overseas opportunities will facilitate a more personalised educational experience, enhance our sector-leading employability success, and better equip students for a fast-paced, flexible economy.
By 2026 study abroad should be an integrated and integral part of the student experience. This will require a more flexible approach to curriculum and programme design, for example by offering semester abroad options on three-year degree programmes where possible and adapting our practices to facilitate study abroad experiences rather than requiring exact equivalence where appropriate. It will involve a renewed commitment to reciprocal exchange, to ensure that incoming students receive the same quality of provision as home students. It will mean creating the flexibility within the UoB curriculum for students to navigate bespoke educational pathways that allow for multiple and varied international opportunities. Supporting student choice, whether to study, volunteer, intern or conduct dissertation research overseas, will facilitate equity, inclusion and greater accessibility. Internationalising the curriculum through virtual course delivery with strategic partner institutions will provide a platform for a truly global education offer for all.