Short mobility programs break down barriers to participation

The Short-term mobility: long-term impact report surveyed 749 students and ran 17 student focus groups to understand more about students’ and universities’ experiences of mobility programs.

Researchers found that such programs help to break down barriers to participation and deliver impact.

“Study placements do not have to be lengthy to provide these moments of inspiration that after all can have an impact of a lifetime,” said Chris Skidmore MP, former universities minister and co-chair of the All Party Group on Universities.

“The challenge for us all in the higher education community is ensuring that as many students as possible get to experience these opportunities, and to have an equal chance to share the wonderful and memorable fulfilment, no matter how short, that studying abroad can deliver,” he added.

UUKi said that shorter mobility programs are often a highly focused and structured program of activities, rather than the more traditional semesters or years abroad.

“Such experiences were reported to provide students with an international experience that enables them to continue with commitments at home, and avoids disrupting existing study, as they are often designed to complement study modules,” the organisation said in a statement.

Additional benefits reported included lower and more transparent costs, access to funding opportunities, and a greater understanding of what to expect during the time abroad.

Short international programs were found to encourage further international engagement – with a  quarter of respondents having already participated in another mobility program, and 43% interested in or planning to go abroad with the university again.

The research indicated that participants would be more likely to engage with international activity back at home, with 74% of participants agreeing they would be more likely to engage with international students on campus following the experience, and 72% more likely to take part in international opportunities on campus.

“Our aim is for universities to learn from the findings and best practice presented in the report and make the most of the benefits presented by short-term mobility to ensure that any student, no matter their background, can participate in an international experience,” said Vivienne Stern, director of UUKi.

“To support this aim, we encourage the UK government to consider these findings, and the impact demonstrated, in their review of the UK’s Turing Scheme.”

An engineering student at The University of Sheffield called Joseph said that the length and timing of a shorter program was beneficial for him.

“I enjoyed that it was short and in summer because it meant that I could come back to Sheffield and start where I’d left off. My studies weren’t interrupted and I could just spend the year learning with the friends that I’d made in first year.”

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