Expanding Student Pathways to Study and Work Abroad

The Expanding Student Pathways to Study and Work Abroad project seeks to lower barriers to participation in outbound mobility activity for students in highly structured degree programs, such as STEM and some business programs, by integrating academic exchange and international internship pathways into existing curriculum. Working with several academic departments at Concordia, international university partners, and on-campus units such as the Office for Experiential Learning and Co-operative Education, we will facilitate and coordinate this by:

1.Developing Pre-approved Exchange Course Packages: Drawing upon similar curriculum integration models utilized by the University of Minnesota, the University of Texas at Austin, and Boston University, the creation of a pre-approved exchange course packages would simplify the course planning process for students and ensure that they would receive all the necessary credits they require for their program while abroad, which is currently not the case for students in many STEM and business programs, depressing participation rates. This would also reduce the workload for staff and faculty at the departmental level who support the exchange program and would ensure a more consistent experience for students across academic disciplines.

2.Creating International Research Co-op Opportunities: Similarly, participating in international internships during co-op work-terms that are already integrated into degree programs would allow students to have an academically relevant work-abroad experience without delaying graduation. Specifically, we propose leveraging existing visiting scholar processes to create new, streamlined research internship pathways and models with select partner universities and academic departments at Concordia. The program would also focus on offering entry-level research internships for students with no previous research experience. This would increase the number of international internships offered in STEM and business programs, without sacrificing the quality of the internships or student safety and support.

By reducing administrative and process-related barriers to participation and ensuring that students receive academic credit for activities, these curriculum interventions have the potential to significantly increase student participation in outbound mobility at Concordia. For the academic programs that partner with us in this pilot, we believe that these curricular interventions could increase outbound mobility participation among students by 50 – 80%. If successful, these interventions can be easily formalized and adapted to multiple academic programs, allowing for potential future growth in outbound mobility across the university.

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The program has equipped a new generation of students, from all backgrounds, with global skills necessary to meet Canada’s ever evolving labour market needs. It is now time to make the program a permanent part of Canada’s skills strategy and approach to international education.