At the Summer Institute on Inclusive and Innovative Internationalisation organised by Boston College and World Education Services, one of the papers presented had its focus on Study Abroad at Community Colleges. Like in Europe, study abroad is still often seen as an exclusive privilege for the happy few. In her paper on “The Relationship between institution-level Factors and Community College Study Abroad”, Melissa Whatley from the University of Georgia looked for institution-level predictors for Study Abroad at Community Colleges – definitely the less exclusive part of American Higher Education.
The study is well in line with the observation that studies abroad opportunities are less available for students from underrepresented minorities, although they tend to profit even more if they go – when properly guided. The study uses the annual Open Doors survey by IIE and the US government´s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) to explore the relationship between study abroad participation and institutional characteristics corresponding to four categories: student body characteristics, institutional charges to students, location, and instructional characteristics. She found that at urban institutions and those with larger numbers of non-resident students, Study Abroad was more prevalent than elsewhere.
What this means and how this could be explained – or addressed – is still unclear. But it’s good to see such a methodologically robust study in a section of Higher Education that deserves more attention from international educators.