Learning Abroad in Australian Universities White Paper

Learning abroad has become an essential and vibrant feature of modern Australian education: one that transforms our students and positively impacts their families and communities as well as Australian education institutions.

The expansion of higher education learning abroad program is one of the great success stories of international education in Australia. Global research now firmly establishes learning abroad as one of the most important experiences a student can access during their undergraduate study.

IEAA’s White Paper, Learning Abroad in Australian Universities, makes the case as to why learning abroad matters to Australian students, to Australian communities and to Australian institutions.

This White Paper takes an evidence-based approach to six key outcomes of learning abroad:

Globally engaged leaders

Learning abroad develops globally engaged community and business leaders.

Global citizens

Learning abroad fosters a global outlook which is critical to citizenship in a multicultural society and an increasingly connected world.

Australia's relations with the world

Learning abroad connects young Australians to global democracy, foreign policy and soft power initiatives.

Student experience

Learning abroad positively impacts student engagement, retention and satisfaction.

Employability and graduate outcomes

Learning abroad develops employability skills and improves graduate employment outcomes.

Driver for student recruitment

Learning abroad supports domestic recruitment into Australian universities for both undergraduate and postgraduate study.

Before COVID-19, Australia had become a world leader in learning abroad with one in four Australian undergraduate students completing a learning abroad experience in 2019.

COVID-19 has profoundly impacted learning abroad opportunities for Australian university students. One of the many untold stories of the pandemic is the 120,000 to 180,000 young Australians who have missed out on the opportunity to participate in a learning abroad experience and thus to gain the critical skills and knowledge outlined in this White Paper. As travel restrictions in Australia and across the world ease, we must now intensify our advocacy efforts to ensure that participation in learning abroad programs by our young people returns to, and exceeds, pre-COVID-19 levels.

Authors and Contributors

This White Paper has been guided by IEAA’s Learning Abroad Return to Travel Working Group and includes specific calls to action which can be implemented by senior institutional leaders as well as through learning abroad teams.

Learning Abroad in Australian Universities was co-authored by the following contributors:

  • Brad Dorahy, CISaustralia
  • Dr Kirrilee Hughes, IEAA
  • Innes Ireland, University of Technology Sydney
  • Wendy Martinec, ISEP
  • Emily O’Callaghan, Independent Consultant
  • Heidi Piper, Griffith University
  • Dr Davina Potts, The University of Melbourne
  • Simon Watson, University of Technology Sydney

Published in May 2022