There is a great conversation going on in the international education community about increasing study abroad participation. On the Diversity Network blog in “More Scholarships Are Not The Answer” Andrew Gordon, founder and president of Diversity Abroad asks, “Why don’t more ethnically and racially diverse students study abroad?” He goes on to say that while scholarships are helpful for many students, they are not the answer to expanding study abroad access:
…scholarships will only do so much without targeted outreach to help underserved students and their families understand and appreciate the value of education abroad. We may not be able to give money to help our students study abroad, however I challenge all of us to look for opportunities at our institutions and organizations to promote study abroad and its immense benefits to a more diverse population of students.
I added my own opinion in the comments on Andrew’s post, and I encourage you to join the conversation and do the same:
Thanks, Andrew. This is a great piece and I think you’re absolutely right. Scholarships are important (and more are always welcome), but they’re never going be effective in getting students who are not already interested in studying abroad to seek out such opportunities. The only way to significantly expand study abroad participation and bring equity to study abroad access is by engaging institutions in the process and supporting them in making study abroad opportunities more easily reached. What is needed is greater leadership at the campus level to tackle the barriers to study abroad, including issue such as making study abroad fit better into the curriculum, creating programs that can serve a more diverse population of students, and sending a strong message that study abroad is not only valued but expected, as part of a student’s preparation for the global environment into which they will graduate. As you said, scholarships are great, but they won’t solve these problems, no matter how many are available. This is the exact reason NAFSA has been so active in supporting the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Act.You can read more in my blog post, Leadership Needed to Make Study Abroad Work for More Students.