An increasing number of post-secondary students across the world, along with professors, scholars, and professionals, are partaking of international study abroad programs. These study opportunities are continuing to increase, and funding for these opportunities in the form of scholarships, grants, and fellowships is also increasing. There are numerous international scholarship programs available both for U.S. and non U.S. students from diverse backgrounds and disciplines. A few of these scholarship programs, such as the Rhodes Scholarship, are highly prestigious and well-known, but there are many other scholarships that nevertheless provide partial or full funding for multiple study abroad programs. Some scholarships focus on specific areas of study or particular universities, while others cover a wide variety of different study abroad programs. Finally, there are many international study abroad programs for specific groups.
Keywords Developing Country; Developed Country; Fellowship; Globalization; Primary Education; Scholarship; Secondary Education; Study Abroad; Tertiary Education
As humanity continues to advance, there are two prevalent educational trends that continue to increase in importance across the world. First, education is becoming more accessible to the people of the world. Hundreds of humanitarian organizations and numerous governments are recognizing that education is the best way to improve, extend, and enrich lives. Educational opportunities are increasing, especially for people in impoverished areas and rising numbers of formerly illiterate children and adults have access to primary and secondary education opportunities. Additionally, more people around the world are receiving a tertiary education, and college enrollment continues to rise both in developed and developing countries.
The second trend is that education is becoming a more global, mobile concept. University systems in developed countries, such as the U.S., often contain high numbers of international students from many different countries. It is not just the well-known U.S. universities like Harvard that are seeing increases in international students; smaller, lesser known U.S. universities and colleges are often selected by international students. For example, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, currently has over 1300 international students who represent over 114 different nations (University of Nebraska at Omaha, n.d.).
Additionally, students from Western countries find their way to universities in diverse places such as Jamaica, Togo, and Malaysia. These students may partake of study abroad programs that are a week, a month, or a year or more. Furthermore, many international students are enrolled in their host universities as regular, full-time students, not just contingent students.
Some study abroad students are involved in programs that are not traditional classroom style. Service projects in which students combine classroom work with hands-on practice and community service, practicum programs where teaching or medical students can gain experience and internships are some of the many international study programs that students have as options.
Studying abroad is becoming increasing more popular and accessible. Approximately half of U.S. college students expect to study abroad at some point (Stohl, 2007). Although studying abroad was originally the privilege of the few and the rich, today there are many opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds and income levels to study abroad.
However, studying abroad is costly. An international study program of a one or two weeks' duration can cost a student thousands of dollars when tuition, transportation, and living expenses are added up. Many students studying in foreign countries desire a longer experience than just a few weeks, especially if they are studying a language, and a semester or a year program can be a significant financial investment. Additionally, regular enrollment at a foreign university can also be extremely costly. When this cost is coupled with the fact that most study abroad students cannot work in their host country, it is easy to see that finances are arguably the biggest barrier to students who want to study overseas.
Funding the Cost of International Study
Thankfully, there has been an increase in the amount of international scholarship programs available to students who wish to study overseas. These valuable sources of funding allow students to gain the important international experience they need. This especially helps those students from more underprivileged backgrounds who could not afford the experience on their own.
International study abroad scholarships, like most scholarships, are quite diverse in their funding and scope. Some scholarships provide full funding while others offer partial funding. Some are program, discipline, or university specific while others are more broad and general. These scholarships may fund a week to a year or more of study. Additionally, international study abroad funding is not limited only to traditional undergraduate scholars; there are a variety of funding programs for graduate and doctorate students in addition to fellowships and grants for instructors, professionals, and scholars. Finally, many scholarship programs are reserved for a particular group (Hispanic students for example), and minority or disabled students often have specific scholarships available to them.
In the 2006/2007 school year, international student enrollment in U.S. schools was a record 582,984: Japanese, Indian, Chinese, and Korean students comprised 43% of this enrollment. Additionally 223,534 U.S. students studied abroad during the 2005/2006 school year (Institute of International Education 2007). As the world becomes more globalized and international study continues to be seen as valuable and desirable, these numbers are likely to increase. These impressive numbers of study abroad students would likely not be nearly as high if it were not for the many international scholarship opportunities available.
One of the primary international study abroad scholarships is the Fulbright Program. Fulbright is open to U.S. undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate students and non U.S. graduate and graduate students as well as instructors, professionals, and scholars. Established in 1964, Fulbright is a program dedicated to increasing unity and understanding between the U.S. and the other countries of the world. Funded primarily by the U.S. government, Fulbright dispensed approximately 6,000 awards totaling over $250 million in 2005 to both U.S and non U.S. based students, scholars, and professionals (Fulbright Program, n.d.).
The Rhodes Scholarship is another well-known and highly-esteemed international study abroad scholarship program which brings students from around the world to the University of Oxford in England. The scholarship fully funds all educational costs and living expenses for two years and allows the possibility of funding for a third year. Additionally, students receive funds for travel costs and other necessities during their stay at Oxford (The Rhodes Trust, 2007).
Fulbright and Rhodes are two of the most prestigious study abroad scholarships, and only a few of the multiple elite scholars who apply for these scholarships become recipients. However, there are numerous other international study abroad scholarships that, although not as highly acclaimed, offer a wide variety of funding and opportunities for students, particularly those students that might not be able to compete for a Rhodes or a Fulbright scholarship, or whose educational goals may not be met by these two funding sources.
The IIEPassport Study Abroad Funding
An excellent resource for U.S. students who wish to study abroad is the IIEPassport Study Abroad Funding website. IIEPassport is an online database of information about study abroad programs, and their Study Abroad Funding website has information solely on funds for international study. The database lists a vast number of different scholarship programs such as the Kleinhans Fellowship for Research in Tropical Non-Timber Forest Products, a two year fellowship worth $15,000 a year which funds students studying non-timber forest production harvest and marketing in Central or South America. Another award is the Hispanic Study Abroad Scholars program which awards $1,000 scholarships to Hispanic undergraduate students who want to study abroad and are currently enrolled at an institute that belongs to the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities. These are just two of the many diverse international scholarships IIEPassport lists on their Study Abroad Funding website (IIEPassport Study Abroad Funding, 2007).
IIEPassport is maintained by The Institute of International Education, another excellent resource for students. Their main website offers information about international study abroad programs and scholarships, fellowships, and grants for these programs. One such scholarship is the National Security Education Program David Boren Scholarship which awards up to $20,000 for a full year of international study for U.S. undergraduate students. The NSEP "focuses on geographic areas, languages, and fields of study deemed critical to U.S. national security" and heavily emphasizes language study (The Institute of International Education,...
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