LLAS News Blog

News articles of interest to higher education LLAS subject fields.

Tuesday 1 May 2012

Residence Abroad

As the number of applicants to modern languages degree programmes is causing some concern, the question is inevitably asked, ‘is it the cost of a four year degree programme which is discouraging applicants?’

Most of us are convinced of the immense value of the year abroad, so too are employers and students who return from to university after what many of them describe as ‘the best year of my life’.  Indeed students at the University of Edinburgh have established an award winning student society , Exchange 360 (http://exchange360.org/)  to help them keep their memories of the year abroad alive, to encourage and support those planning a year overseas and to befriend international students studying in Edinburgh. 

The British Academy, working in partnership with the University Council of Modern Languages (UCML) and Thirdyearabroad.com, has recently funded a project to gather evidence on the value of the year abroad.  A call for short case studies from graduates who had spent time abroad during their undergraduate studies elicited 600 responses ‘illustrating the academic, cultural, intercultural, linguistic, personal and professional benefits derived from the year abroad’.  To read these, go to  http://www.thirdyearabroad.com/graduates.html  A position statement , Valuing the Year Abroad, has also been produced ( http://www.britac.ac.uk)  articulating these benefits and proposing recommendations to government, to universities, to employers and to students.  In the position statement, the Government is urged to ‘minimise financial disincentives for the small but currently growing number of students who wish to undertake a year abroad’.  We are still awaiting the Government’s response.

LLAS is organising a workshop on the year abroad to explore these issues further. Working with colleagues in Scotland, the workshop will look at how we can effectively articulate the value of residence abroad to students, parents and university managers as well as exploring how we can maximise the benefits of the year abroad experience for students.  The event is being held on 23 May 2012 at Strathclyde University. To register, go to http://www.llas.ac.uk/events/6547.

Liz Hudswell
Assistant Director, LLAS

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