Learning Abroad at Australian universities: The Current Environment

Only 10 to 15 years ago, representatives of Australian universities would often tell international partner institutions that Australian students don’t study abroad. Over the last 10 years, a major cultural change has occurred.

This may be a consequence of growing numbers of international students on campus, an increasingly mobile Australian population or a global trend of young people seeking meaningful opportunities outside of their home context. It is most likely a combination of factors, including an increased focus of university and government policy makers and practitioners to making learning abroad more academically accessible, more affordable and less complicated.

This paper provides an overview of the current context of learning abroad at Australian universities and the policies and practices that support the participation of students in these programs.

About the Authors

Leanne Harrison, Australian National University and Dr Davina Potts, The University of Melbourne

Learning Abroad

Participation in learning abroad programs across Australia has increased fourfold over the last 10 years (AUIDF, 2015).

Recognising this growing importance, Universities Australia commissioned IEAA to undertake a comprehensive research project on learning abroad.

The reports examine current trends and outcomes, analysis of global policy settings and a review of support offered across government and institutions in Australia, including:

  • Outcomes of Learning Abroad Programs (Dr Davina Potts)
  • International Trends in Learning Abroad (Dr Cate Gribble, Dr Ly Tran)
  • Learning Abroad at Australian Universities: the Current Environment (Leanne Harrison, Dr Davina Potts).

"The work is an important stock take of student mobility in Australia and highlights the considerable benefits for society in having internationally experienced graduates," said Universities Australia.

"As we move into an era where students are increasingly looking to improve their skills and enhance their employability, research which demonstrates the link between mobility and career development will become ever more important."

This project was commissioned by Universities Australia and supported by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training.

Published: May 2016