Elon recently signed onto a new Institute for International Education (IIE) initiative designed to double the number of U.S. students studying abroad.
Generation Study Abroad looks to provide students the resources needed to study abroad, especially funding. It also plans to create more awareness through social media, enhance its data collection efforts and publish best-practice materials for university administrators.
“GSA is an initiative to promote awareness of global opportunity and mobility,” said Bill Burress, assistant director of international programs.
Elon University has already been working toward the IIE’s goal. In the fall, President LeoLambert announced that within the next three years, Elon will add $495,000 in scholarship money for study abroad and Study USA participants.
According to Burress, Elon is lucky.
“Some schools don’t appreciate the commitment it takes to be committed to study abroad,” he said. “We’re lucky that we have a [study abroad] culture.”
Most schools lose money when students go abroad, he said. They have to pay out to the organizations that run the programs. Up to two-thirds of the cost of study abroad doesn’t go to the university.
“They put a cap on the number of students studying abroad during the semester,” Burress said.
Elon is not looking to limit that number.
While the university can’t double the percentage of student’s studying abroad, it can increase the number of students who do in a school year.
And while investing in study abroad requires a huge commitment from universities, the GSA initiative does not have much substance to it. Universities join the campaign with a signature, but have no binding contract or commitment. The IIE only asks for updates from universities for research purposes.
But Elon has committed to its students through its plan to provide 100 percent access to global study, whether it is study abroad or Study USA.
“Elon believes in it so much,” said Burress. “It’s part of its mission.”