X Close

UCL Global

Home

London's Global University

Menu

New Report on Study Abroad and Student Mobility: Stories of Global Citizenship?

GuestBlogger20 September 2019

By Nicole Blum
Development Education Research Centre, UCL Institute of Education

In 2017 we received funding from the Global Engagement Office to identify some of the reasons young people decide to study abroad and what they think they gain from the experience. The research, conducted by myself with support from Douglas Bourn, set out to understand whether the learning students have gained resonates with UCL’s global citizenship and student mobility strategies.

The term ‘global citizenship’ has been around for a while, but is often used in different ways. Key authors in the field suggest that it can have a number of dimensions, including a focus on increasing global employability and competitiveness, cultivating greater understanding and appreciation of difference, or critical engagement and radical transformation of inequitable global structures and relationships.

UCL’s definition includes elements of all of these dimensions, and describes global citizens as individuals who: understand the complexity of our interconnected world, understand our biggest challenges, know their social, ethical and political responsibilities, display leadership and teamwork, and solve problems through innovation and entrepreneurship.

Our work was motivated by the common assumption that international experiences for students – including study abroad, overseas volunteering and work placements, and international travel – will result in positive learning about diverse cultures and global concerns.

While there is plenty of research which strongly supports this idea, it has tended to be based on quantitative data from questionnaires completed at the end of an experience. Relatively little research has looked in-depth at student’s own perceptions about their learning while abroad or when they return home.

We interviewed undergraduate students on UCL’s Arts and Sciences (BASc) programme to gain a better understanding of their perceptions.

The data highlighted a range of push and pull factors which influence young people’s study abroad decisions, as well as a wide range of ways in which the experience encourages (or does not) reflection on global issues and on students’ sense of themselves in the world.

Students highlighted the personal aspects of being a ‘global citizen’ when talking about their study abroad experiences:

Studying abroad was the first time I felt like I could call myself a global citizen. Before this, I had some awareness and interest in international issues, but had never left Europe and only travelled for brief periods of time. On returning, I found I had a reverse culture shock, and could relate better to international students studying in the UK.

The evidence also suggested that a number of different kinds of learning take place during study abroad, including about particular topics/ issues, experiences of particular places and/ or exposure to new ideas:

I really do think my sense of history has changed and sense of international politics has changed, and also a sense of what an English person is had changed.

Learning about colonialism and racism in the Netherlands taught me to reflect more on my own country’s issues and ugly history. Thus, making me think more globally about the lives of individuals who have suffered as a result of colonialism.

While these experiences can be highly significant for individuals, it is important to recognise that transformative learning may not happen without support. Students in this research clearly recognised the value of their study abroad learning and experiences, but also the need for more ways to reflect on this with programme organisers and with peers, particularly if they are to be able to take their learning forward.

UCL clearly sets out the potential outcomes of study abroad, with a strong emphasis on the benefits to participants’ enhanced employability, new experiences and skill development. The students we interviewed tended to agree with these benefits, although they often emphasised one aspect as most relevant to their own experience:

I’m actually probably more open now to going and working in other countries or studying in other countries, and it doesn’t feel impossible, it doesn’t feel like this huge ordeal, like this huge challenge, because ‘Oh I’ve done it now’.

I really thought I was just going to learn French, but actually I got a lot out of it academically. I took quite a lot of … studies in creative art, so video games and the cinema and comic books…. there’s a huge games industry out there but also the arts are quite strong in Montreal. And it sort of convinced me that that was a legitimate career choice. I think before then I’d sort of seen that as … you know creative industries is kind of a pipe dream, or it’s something you do if you get lucky. But actually, out there [in Canada] there are people writing scripts for video games or films or … and the fact that I could study it as an academic discipline made me realise that this is a legit thing … it’s not just this fanciful dream. So actually, I’m now hoping to go into radio.

While this study reveals some of the reasons behind the decision to study abroad, more research is needed to explore more deeply how students themselves understand their experiences of study abroad and the ways in which their learning informs their lives in the future. This is perhaps particularly important in the context of increasingly diverse student groups as well as a rapidly changing world.

For more details about the study, access the full report here: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/10078730/

Scholarship opportunity in China – apply by 19 February

SophieVinter4 February 2016

An excellent funding opportunity has arisen for UCL students with an interest in China. The Chinese Government Scholarship scheme covers tuition fees, medical insurance, accommodation and a living allowance for successful applicants to study Chinese language for a period of up to one academic year.

Students must satisfy the following criteria in order to be eligible to apply:

  • Be a national of a country other than China
  • Be under age 45 and with at least two years of Undergraduate level study

UCL will be shortlisting nominations for this scholarship scheme.

How to apply

In order to submit an application for consideration by the UCL panel, please send the following documents by email to Oliver Tomlinson (o.tomlinson@ucl.ac.uk), Partnership Officer, as soon as possible and by 19 February at the latest:

  1. CV
  2. Academic transcripts (find more information on how to obtain UCL transcripts here)
  3. Two recommendation letters from UCL academics
  4. Study Plan (minimum of 500 words)

For more information about the Chinese Government Scholarship programme, visit their website.

UCL-Institut Francais call for applications for workshop funding

KerryMilton3 April 2014

UCL academics, including doctoral (PhD) students and postdoctoral researchers, are invited to apply for funds to help organise collaborative workshops for the 2014-2015 academic year involving participants from UCL and research institutions in France.

Institut Francais logo

In July 2013, UCL and the Institut Français signed an agreement to collaborate on a series of workshops over a period of three years, focusing specifically on research in the humanities.

The agreement aims to build on existing, and explore new links, between UCL and French academic and research organisations.

By providing funding each year for three workshops between UCL and French academics, all held at UCL, the agreement is aimed at encouraging junior and senior scholars to establish new directions for possible research collaborations– not only in their own areas of expertise, but also across disciplines.

During the 2013-2014 academic year, the UCL European Institute organised three highly successful workshops under the theme of ‘In Places(s) of Memory’

For further information, including how to apply and requirements for this year’s funding, download the call for proposals PDF

Deadline for receipt of applications: Friday 30 May 2014

UCL-Institut Francais call for applications for workshop funding

KerryMilton3 April 2014

UCL academics, including doctoral (PhD) students and postdoctoral researchers, are invited to apply for funds to help organise collaborative workshops for the 2014-2015 academic year involving participants from UCL and research institutions in France.

Institut Francais logo

In July 2013, UCL and the Institut Français signed an agreement to collaborate on a series of workshops over a period of three years, focusing specifically on research in the humanities.

The agreement aims to build on existing, and explore new links, between UCL and French academic and research organisations.

By providing funding each year for three workshops between UCL and French academics, all held at UCL, the agreement is aimed at encouraging junior and senior scholars to establish new directions for possible research collaborations– not only in their own areas of expertise, but also across disciplines.

During the 2013-2014 academic year, the UCL European Institute organised three highly successful workshops under the theme of ‘In Places(s) of Memory’

For further information, including how to apply and requirements for this year’s funding, download the call for proposals PDF

Deadline for receipt of applications: Friday 30 May 2014

UCL and the British Council launch museum training school

KerryMilton6 March 2014

UCL has teamed with the British Council to launch the Museum Training School (MTS). MTS will provide arts and heritage professionals from around the world with the skills and knowledge necessary to increase the sustainability and growth of museums and galleries.

UCL Museum Training School Logo

Museums and galleries around the world are experiencing unprecedented growth and rapid change. These changes accelerate the need to train a new generation of museum leaders. MTS responds to this need.

UCL and the British Council will use their world-class collections, resources and expertise to provide a unique learning experience with an international approach and outlook. The four courses currently on offer are:

  • How to build local, national and international partnerships
  • How to develop exhibitions
  • How to develop a schools and learning programme
  • How to develop community engagement programmes

In addition to the hands-on teaching led by innovative specialists in the field, the alumni of the Museum Training School will join a global network of museum and gallery leaders.

To apply to the school and for further information, visit the UCL Museum Training School website

Two funded Master-level study scholarships available

KerryMilton22 February 2014

UCL is offering two fully funded scholarships with partner, Zhejiang University (ZJU), to study a Masters degree in Contemporary Chinese Studies, taught in English, over two years.

Zhejiang University is one of the top-5 universities in China, located in the beautiful city of Hangzhou, 30 minutes by rapid train from Shanghai.

The scholarship will cover fees, accommodation and provide a living allowance of £166 per month.

Current final year UCL students, across any subject area, are invited to apply. UCL alumni holding a UCL Masters degree ‘with distinction’ are also eligible for the scholarship but will complete the ZJU programme in just one year.

The UCL application deadline is 23 April 2014, 10am

Full details on how to apply, and the ZJU eligibility restrictions, can be found on the ZJU website

Complete applications should be sent to:

UCL Office for International Affairs,
48 Gordon Square,
London
WC1H 0PJ
c/o Dr Andrew Pink

The two successful candidates will be notified by the end of the day on 30 April 2014.

If you have any queries, please email Dr Andrew Pink at a.g.pink@ucl.ac.uk