Widening Participation in UK Outward Student Mobility

1 November 2017

Students who spend some time abroad working, studying or volunteering achieve better degrees and get better jobs, and the number of students going abroad is rising each year. However, not all students in the UK participate in outward mobility at the same rate.

UUKi currently delivers the research for the Social inclusion and engagement in mobility (SIEM) project, which aims to better support students from all backgrounds to access international opportunities. Through the Impact of Short term mobility project, UUKi aims to provide clarity on the extent to which short-term mobility results in positive outcomes for students and make international mobility opportunities more inclusive.  It showcases a number of successful programmes from offered by UK universities and shares good practice in delivery of these and student support. 

UUKi are also delivering a project aimed at sharing good practice in Internationalisation at home (IAH) activities. This project aims to highlight the contribution outward student mobility makes towards IAH activities, and showcase the diverse programmes of activities across the sector which support all students in having an international and intercultural learning dimension to their studies. 

Universities UK International (UUKi) received support from the Erasmus+ programme, through its Higher Education Key Action 3 strand, to run a project focussed on widening participation in outward mobility. The Go International programme has worked with universities and colleges across the UK to deliver this project, signalling the strong commitment to mobility from UK institutions.

This publication includes two key outputs from the project: 


The first is a report analysing national mobility trends in the UK, and the second a toolkit of guidance for institutions across the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) to widen participation in their mobility programmes. The project focussed on five student demographics: students from low socio-economic backgrounds; students from low participation neighbourhoods, black and minority ethnic (BME) students; students with disabilities and; students who are care leavers. The aim was to achieve a year-on-year increase in the number of students from disadvantaged and under-represented backgrounds who go abroad during their degree.

The report analyses the level of participation in schemes by students from the five target groups and identifies patterns, trends and, more crucially, gaps in participation rates. The report found that all five student groups were under-represented in mobility and that for students who were in more than one of the target groups, the participation rate was even lower. 



The toolkit collates case studies of good practice from universities and colleges across the UK who have worked to ensure students from these groups are supported on to mobility opportunities. It also includes a section focused on student perspectives, provided following a series of focus groups and some highlighted case studies.​​


We encourage universities and colleges to use the project report and toolkit to inform strategies and planning for outward mobility and widening participation going forward, especially in the context of the Turing Scheme. 


We hope that the project’s recommendations which are based on the sector case studies and the guidance offered by study abroad alumni will be of particular use in this regard. We are grateful to all organisations, institutions and students who participated in this project and hope the higher and further education sector will continue to work together to share advice and support on this important area. Now more than ever, we must ensure that mobility is open to all.​


For further information, contact the Outward Mobility Team on outwardmobility@international.ac.uk


This research report was produced by Universities UK International with the support of the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union and the UK Department for Education. 



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