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Study abroad and the voice of first-year students

As part of the continuous improvement and development agenda, the University of Sussex’s Global Engagement Office recently conducted a comprehensive survey of all Sussex undergraduates completing their first year of study, in order to gauge levels of interest and preferences around study abroad programmes.

With a response rate of almost 10%, nearly three out of four student respondents expressed a high level of interest in going abroad as part of their course. Primary reasons cited by students for wishing to do so were cultural factors and employability benefits, with secondary reasons including the opportunity to study their subject from a different perspective and to learn or improve language skills.

The year abroad, term abroad, work placements and summer schools were the key programme types of interest, but with a significant group of students indicating they would also be keen on an ‘internationalisation at home’ programme on campus. Forty-six percent of all students and 53% of First Generation Scholars said that the opportunity to study abroad was a decision-making factor in choosing to apply to Sussex.

Students who indicated they were interested in studying abroad expressed concerns that might prevent them from participating. These included financial barriers, worries about prolonging their studies or practical matters, such as uncertainty about accommodation on return to Sussex and completing the application process. Those who indicated they were not interested in studying abroad also conveyed similar concerns with regard to finance and prolonging studies, in addition to leaving behind family and friends and unease about studying abroad in a non-English speaking location.

Emily Sinclair, Head of Global Mobility, says: “The voice of students is an important part of our planning process, and we’re very pleased to get such active participation in this study abroad survey. It’s also really positive to see that a significant majority of students recognise the value of study abroad and the range of benefits it offers. We will use the survey results to refine and develop the opportunities available such that Sussex’s study abroad programmes remain topical, relevant and accessible to students into the future.”

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By: Rohan Mccarthy-Gill
Last updated: Tuesday, 3 September 2019

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