Education Policy: Expanding Access to Study Abroad for U.S. Students

NAFSA supports public policies that increase opportunities for American college students to gain the global education that is necessary for them to thrive in the 21st Century economy. A generation ago, there was a national concern that students without access to computers would fall behind their peers and be at a competitive disadvantage in seeking jobs; the same can be said today of students without access to global educational opportunities. Study abroad is a learning opportunity that enables students to develop critical skills and that contributes in vital ways to preparing students for the competitive global environment into which they will graduate.

Policy Priorities

  • All policy leaders-from the national, state, and institutional levels, should use their platforms to articulate the importance of knowing other cultures and languages and should encourage students to seek out international learning opportunities.
  • To make study abroad the norm, not the exception, for today's college students, Congress should pass the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act, to incentivize higher education to increase study abroad and provide a cost-effective, sustainable way to ensure more diverse U.S. undergraduates can study internationally.
  • The President should include funding in each year's budget that prioritizes study abroad and international learning experiences.
  • The private sector should invest in public-private partnerships such as the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund, with greater investment from those companies and sectors who are the main beneficiaries of a globally proficient workforce.
  • Colleges and universities should exert greater leadership to ensure that every student seeking a path to an international learning experience can find one; tailoring study abroad programs to nontraditional students' needs; making learning abroad accessible, affordable, and attractive; and integrating global learning into the curriculum.

Legislation

The Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act
Introduced by Sens. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act would establish a new federal study abroad program to incentivize higher education institutions to remove the institutional, curricular, and cultural barriers that keep students from studying abroad.

Impact of Study Abroad

Policy Recommendations

Executive Branch Initiatives

100,000 Strong in the Americas
President Obama launched 100,000 Strong in the Americas to increase educational exchanges in the Western Hemisphere and strengthen U.S. relations with the countries of the Americas through student mobility. NAFSA has partnered with the U.S. State Department, the White House, and Partners of the Americas to create the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund to help implement this initiative.

The Innovation Fund is a public-private partnership designed to raise money for grants to higher education institutions that have shown a commitment to expanding academic mobility within the Western hemisphere.

Join Innovation Fund

Timeline of Study Abroad Activity

NAFSA’s study abroad advocacy has focused on advancing policies that support the growth and diversification of study abroad.

Review these successes on this interactive timeline.

Additional Reports

States and Statistics