By Leanne Yu, Study Abroad Senior Officer (Outgoing Students Coordinator), Study Abroad Office, King's College London
With the announcement of Brexit just under a year ago and 2017 being the 30th anniversary of Erasmus, the annual Go International conference couldn’t have come at a better time. More than ever, it is important for colleagues in outward mobility to come together to share best practice and discuss how we are all dealing with global and local changes.
Presenting our office’s approach to widening participation in mobility and how we use our OFFA funds was something that I was really looking forward to. I wanted to share our practice but also learn about other universities’ approaches as well. There will always be challenges that arise in this area, but I’m proud of what we’ve managed to achieve in the past year. Essentially we use our OFFA funds in three ways:
- to fund our ‘Broadening Horizons’ travel award to WP students undertaking any form of mobility, ranging from formal study abroad exchange programmes to independently organised overseas internships;
- to partially fund a new study abroad officer’s role, whose remit includes specifically supporting WP students that study abroad;
- to fund a bespoke short-term summer study abroad programme for WP students.
Whilst providing travel bursaries is an obvious way to spend our funds, we’ve found that having this new officer has made quite a difference to the student experience. This is because that officer can speak specifically to WP students about their funding opportunities and also to coordinate our bespoke WP summer programme. I hope that others were able to take away as much as they from my presentation, as I did from the day.
I enjoyed listening to speakers from a range of backgrounds on different topics, particularly the morning session on Brexit and how we can learn from Switzerland’s own Erasmus exit. Comparing our outward mobility strategies with De Montfort University was also a positive session that has certainly made me more motivated to encourage mobility in ways other than the traditional semester/year abroad.
With so many uncertainties affecting our work, I left the conference with a lot to think about, but also feeling positive about our sector. We often get caught up in day-to-day work, so I was glad to have attended a meaningful event and am hopeful that engaging in dialogues like these will help us to be as best prepared for the next changes that will come our way.
Image: courtesy of King's College London; students on the Kuala Lumpur Study Abroad programme, funded through the university's access agreement.