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IES Abroad Conducts Survey to Measure Diversity Efforts in Study Abroad

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Ashley Houston
October 2, 2015

This week we released our 2014-15 Membership Survey to Consortium members.

The data from the survey, coupled with our Initiative to Diversify Education Abroad (IDEA), underscores the importance of institutional efforts toward making study abroad more diverse and inclusive.

As a service to our members, we have conducted an annual survey of U.S. colleges and universities within our Consortium for more than a decade, reporting on timely topics and trends within study abroad.

In an effort to support more students from diverse and underrepresented populations studying abroad, our 2014-15 Membership Survey collected key information about institutional efforts to diversify the population of students prepared to study and intern abroad. Close to 100 premier institutions from our Consortium responded.

The survey showed the various ways our members are addressing the diversity gap in study abroad:

  • 72% of institutions are partnering with other offices on campus
  • 59% are establishing targeted marketing efforts for recruiting diverse students
  • 44% are creating additional scholarships and aid opportunities
  • 40% are providing specialized advising.

While universities and colleges are already doing a lot in the effort to diversify study abroad, institutions are limited in their resources. Based on the findings of this first-of-its-kind survey, and our extensive field work over the last four-and-a-half years visiting more than 100 institutions across the United States, we are devoting resources to help these institutions fill in the gaps, steps that schools may find beneficial on their own campuses:

  • Two full-time diversity focused IES Abroad staff members to recruit and advise students under a long-term, multi-pronged IDEA
  • Specified financial aid to reduce financial barriers for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs); $421,500 has been awarded to IES Abroad students over the last 10 years in the form of HBCU grants and Diversity Aid awards
  • A suite of training workshops for school staff, advising webinars, print materials, and multimedia content to support students of diverse identities abroad
  • Student IDEA bloggers each term who discuss their perspectives on diversity and identity in their host countries
  • Targeted outreach events like the November 9 “Embark to Excel” virtual student conference IES Abroad is hosting in cooperation with Diversity Abroad

Gretchen Cook-Anderson, Director of Diversity Recruiting & Advising for IES Abroad, stated, “We've worked in collaboration with schools in our Consortium for years to determine how to reduce barriers that prevent non-traditional students from studying abroad, but until now there’s been little to no data in the field on what we are doing collectively to make change. In our experience, an intentional and sustained approach works—student diversity in IES Abroad's programs rose more than 64 percent since we launched our diversity initiative in 2009.”

It is our hope that the results of the Membership Survey will help institutions benchmark their efforts against those of peer institutions, and can be used to advocate for additional campus resources to support diversity in study abroad.

We're proud to have the first survey to measure efforts to diversify study abroad, and it has aided us as a not-for-profit in making conscious and strategic decisions on how to best support and supplement the efforts of our more than 230 member institutions. 

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Ashley Houston

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