Study Abroad – Quantity or Quality?

Grace in Fiji

Our study abroad program in the Fiji Islands

So we know that too few Canadian students are studying abroad. AUCC 2006 numbers said it was less than 3% and we can assume that five years later is it still less than 10%.  Now these numbers only count if study abroad actually is a benefit to students and does all the jazz its supposed to – increase cross cultural skills, global citizenship, global awareness… etc.  But the programs that are strategically trying to make sure their students achieve these outcomes take a huge amounts of organizing time and people power.  At the University of Toronto the ISXO advertises more than 130 countries that students can study in – but do we want all those options if a) students aren’t taking advantage of them and b) the programs aren’t structured to ensure positive outcomes.  Let’s focus instead on quality rather than quantity?  Drop the number of programs to 30, link them to specific majors and strategically develop ways to match students to programs that “fit” their academic and personal journeys.