Home > Policy and analysis > Reports > Widening Participation in UK Outward Student Mobility

Widening Participation in UK Outward Student Mobility

12 December 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.

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. 




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 about this project, contact Katherine Allinson.


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



International students paying through the nose for woefully inadequate document-checking service

29 July 2019
Concern is rising at UK universities as Sopra Steria – the company contracted to check documents and enrol biometric information as part of visa applications – is unable to meet demand, with students in some parts waiting 30 days to get an appointment

UUK and sector partners call for reform of the student visa system

18 July 2019
The government is being challenged to back-up its commitment to boosting international student numbers with reform to the new student visa route.


Higher education policy priorities for the new prime minister

31 July 2019
UUK's Karmjit Kaur on how new Prime Minister Boris Johnson can can help maximise the role of universities for both his domestic and global ambitions.

Understanding international student mental health

26 March 2019
The University of Nottingham's Andy Winter on how the mental health needs of international students differ from those of home students.