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Dr. Velliaris explores the benefits of studying abroad for students

Guest Blog: Degree Programs That Transcend Borders

By Donna Velliaris on Aug 20, 2019
Bienvenido, Bonjour, Geia, Guten Tag, Hei, Hej, Helo, Hola, Jambo, Konnichiwa, Namasté, Shalóm. The world contains billions of people in thousands of unique and distinct cultures. It is likely that one will never have enough time to experience them all, but with a study abroad program, one can have the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of our shared humanity and how it transcends borders. With experience and research insight, expert Dr. Donna Velliaris’ forthcoming volume is titled Academic Mobility Programs and Engagement: Emerging Research and Opportunities. Not only will living abroad enrich one’s understanding of different people and cultures, but the academic and career benefits of studying abroad are now more relevant than ever. Read more about this publication and topic below:

‘Study Abroad’ is the term given to a program that allows a student to live in a foreign country and attend a foreign university. In many cases, two universities have an arrangement, which allows them to exchange students so that these students can learn about a foreign culture and broaden their horizons. The chosen program may grant credit for courses taken at the foreign institution and some also coordinate a work-study or internship agreements. Principally, there needs to be an ‘educative’ connection between ‘home’ and ‘host’ destinations/organizations for advancing higher education (HE) teaching and learning opportunities. That is, the more relevant the international experience is to the overall educational objectives of the specific course/degree program, the more students benefit.

The internationalization of HE contributes to the students’ attainment of global career-readiness competencies desirable in a global economy—a mass of skills to prepare them to be members of a global workforce upon graduation. Proponents stress a number of ‘positive’ academic, career, intercultural, personal, and social benefits or key competencies for students undertaking a study abroad venture, including marketable skills such as accepting international values and beliefs, adapting to unfamiliar situations, boosting one’s sense of adventure, building confidence and increasing self-awareness, communicating across cultural and linguistic boundaries, deepening learning and inspiring rigor, detecting ethnocentrism, encouraging solidarity, engaging in active observation, enhancing civic-mindedness, facilitating intellectual growth, fostering empathy, practicing reflexive understanding, preventing stereotypes and prejudice, showing cultural humility, tolerating ambiguity, and viewing situations from unique perspectives.

Some students may think that traveling abroad will hamper their studies when, in fact, it is quite the opposite. When done in a way that advances one’s skills and knowledge, an international experience is incredibly desirable in a globalized job market. Such encounters can facilitate a clearer sense of personal and professional purpose (i.e., vision and ambition) that may otherwise have been overlooked by staying domestic. Nevertheless, the decision to lead (faculty) and/or participate (student) in study abroad is not always straightforward. Study abroad can be stressful and extremely tiring, both physically and mentally. The amount of work that is required should reflect this reality. This does not mean that the courses are less rigorous or that the students are learning less. They are actually learning more, but in varied ways. Certainly, academic engagement and student success do not automatically occur and are dependent on specific factors that shape the study abroad experience.

Based on the literature, it is difficult for anyone to deny the benefits of participating in study abroad programs. Students returning from studying abroad usually describe the experience as 'life changing'. Yet, while these programs should be ‘enjoyable’, they should not be promoted or viewed as an ‘easy study option’ or as ‘time off’. Studying abroad is not a vacation. The legitimacy of study abroad is linked with fulfilling major/minor and/or elective requirements that students would take even if they had remained at their ‘home’ institution. Indeed, some students experience culture shock, homesickness, attachment, and/or mental health issues. Others will have disciplinary problems such as alcohol abuse, drug use, or cheating. Since the happenings of such programs are changeable—not always comfortable or even positive—there are many ‘Push-Pull’ variables to contemplate including commonality of language, geographic location, healthcare facilities, ideological affinity, political interests, racial tolerance, reputation, safety, security, and social atmosphere.

Academic Mobility Programs and Engagement: Emerging Research and Opportunities will be a useful resource for those who wish to develop and strengthen existing and/or new programs in their higher education institutions (HEIs) as it is no longer sufficient that educators explore intercultural and global learning in the abstract: from the confines of their campus or classroom. We must foster programs that offer direct learning experiences worldwide. The extensive array of programs currently available makes study abroad more flexible, affordable, and accessible than ever before. While not everyone can go abroad for a full year, I hope you will agree after reading this volume that there are study abroad options for everyone. Thus, I invite readers to discuss, share, and expand upon their own teachings, learnings, and findings in the area of study abroad, as there is much room for continued investment in this worthy endeavor.
We would like to thank Dr. Velliaris for sharing her experience on the benefits of study abroad in higher education. We hope the discussion will promote further conversations on the topic. Be sure to view her new publication, Academic Mobility Programs and Engagement: Emerging Research and Opportunities, and recommend this title to your librarian.

Dr. Velliaris's research is available through IGI Global’s InfoSci®-Books, a database of 5,300+ reference books containing over 100,000+ chapters focusing on emerging research. With an annual subscription (2000-2020) price offered as low as US$ 9,450, (one-time perpetual purchase for the current copyright year (2020) offered as low as US$ 20,500), this database hosts key features such as full-text PDF and HTML format, no DRM, unlimited simultaneous users, and no embargo of content (research is available months in advance of the print release). Spanning across 350+ topics in 11 core subject areas, including business and management, computer science, education, science and engineering, social sciences, and more, this robust research database is ideal for academic and research institutions.

Additionally, when an institution invests in IGI Global’s InfoSci-Books and InfoSci®-Journals (185+ scholarly journals) databases, they can take advantage of IGI Global’s Open Access (OA) Fee Waiver (Read and Publish) Initiative, which will provide an additional source of OA article processing charges (APCs) and enable researchers of that institution to have their OA APCs waived when their research is accepted into an IGI Global journal.*

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About Dr. Donna Velliaris


Dr. Donna Velliaris  headshotDr. Donna M. Velliaris is currently living and working in Singapore while her two young children attend an international school. A fully qualified [Australia] secondary school educator since 1995, she has a total of 12 officially registered subjects/skills across Grades 8-12. To date, she has taught students from Reception to PhD level and across several continents. Dr. Velliaris holds two Graduate Certificates: (1) Australian Studies; and (2) Religious Education, two Graduate Diplomas: (1) Secondary Education; and (2) Language and Literacy Education, as well as three Master’s degrees: (1) Educational Sociology; (2) Studies of Asia; and (3) Special Education. In 2010, Dr. Velliaris graduated with a PhD in Education focused on the social/educational ecological development of school-aged transnational students in Tokyo, Japan.

Her primary research interests include: human ecology; Third Culture Kids (TCKs); schools as cultural systems; and study abroad. With recent publication of almost 30 book chapters, her titles comprise: Academic reflections: Disciplinary acculturation and the first-year pathway experience in Australia [Garnet]; Conceptualizing four ecological influences on contemporary ‘Third Culture Kids’ [Palgrave Macmillan]; Culturally responsive pathway pedagogues: Respecting the intricacies of student diversity in the classroom [IGI Global]; The other side of the student story: Listening to the voice of the parent [Sense]; and Metaphors for transnational students: A moving experience [Cambridge Scholars].
Find below a sample of related education titles on study abroad programs, which are also featured in IGI Global’s award-winning InfoSci-Books database and are available for purchase in print and electronic format. Be sure to recommend these titles to your librarian to ensure your institution can acquire the most emerging research. Additionally, for researchers, all of the chapters featured in these publications are available for purchase through IGI Global’s OnDemand feature for as low as US$ 30.


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the authors’ own and do not reflect the views of IGI Global.
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*The Open Access (OA) article processing charges will be waived after the student, faculty, or staff’s paper has been vetted and accepted into an IGI Global journal.
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