ATLANTA – According to data provided by Open Doors, Georgia State University ranked first among public institutions in sending the most African American students to study abroad in 2018. Georgia State also ranked 11th among public institutions in sending the most racial and ethnic minority students to study abroad.
Open Doors data is collected from an annual online survey to U.S. higher education institutions and is managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE). It’s regarded as the comprehensive information resource on U.S. students studying abroad and international students and scholars in the U.S.
The data reflects Georgia State’s role as a national model of inclusive excellence, which includes global education programs. In the 2018-19 academic year, 1,153 students studied abroad in 41 different countries and of those students, 49.8 percent were students of color and 36 percent were Black students.
“Experiential learning is a vital part of a Georgia State education. An essential piece of that is studying abroad, which shapes and broadens our students’ worldviews," said Georgia State President M. Brian Blake. “I’m thrilled, and not surprised, that we’re leading the way in creating opportunities for our students to travel the world, learn from other cultures, and grow intellectually and professionally.”
An indispensable component to breaking barriers to studying abroad is financial support, and Georgia State’s institutional scholarships — primarily those supported by the International Education Fee — are critical to supporting students who may not initially consider a study abroad experience. In 2018-19, 935 students received more than $1 million in scholarships from the International Education Fee.
"I received the International Access Scholarship from Study Abroad Programs. Had it not been for this scholarship, I would have missed out on this opportunity,” said Nina Rasheed, a graduate student in the School of Public Health. “Many colleges do not offer study abroad for graduate students. To be able to study abroad in grad school, while also visiting Europe for the first time left me excited and a little nervous, but overall, extremely grateful for this opportunity and scholarship.”
The Free Passport Initiative (FPI), conceived by the Office of International Initiatives (OII) at the end of 2020 and implemented by Study Abroad Programs in collaboration with the Georgia State University Passport Office, has proven a successful program to attract underrepresented students to global travel.
Of the 1,035 students who received a passport through the initiative, 82 percent self-identified as non-white and 72 percent self-identified as Black. The FPI recently received the 2022 IIE Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education.
In 2019, Georgia State’s Office of International Initiatives collaborated with Georgia State’s African American Male Initiative (My Brother’s Keeper) to become one of 24 selected out of 115 applications to receive funding through the Increase and Diversify Education Abroad for U.S. Students (IDEAS) program.
The IDEAS grant focused on how to increase study abroad participation for Black male students and faculty. Data obtained from surveys and through the study abroad application software were used to inform outreach and marketing strategies and information sessions.
While the IDEAS grant has ended, Study Abroad Programs continues this work through their Black and African American Male Study Abroad Network, an initiative aimed to support Black men at Georgia State interested in studying abroad by providing them with resources, education, events and mentorship.
“The Open Doors ranking shows that we are on the right track in making global experiences accessible to all students, regardless of race, ethnicity or background,” said Dr. Wolfgang Schlör, associate provost for International Initiatives. “It also challenges us to redouble our efforts to achieve true equity in global education.”
Georgia State and the Office of International Initiatives continue to find ways to better support underrepresented students by using data-driven strategies, informative programming and scholarship opportunities that reflect the institution’s dedication to student success, regardless of background.