ABOUT THIS PROJECT

 

Driven by the 2012 ‘Australia in the Asian Century’ white paper recommendation to use Skill and Education to “strengthen links between Australia and the region”, tertiary education policy is now focused on outbound student mobility and supported through the New Colombo Plan and AsiaBound Grants Program.  With the availability of government funding (New Colombo Plan commitment of $100 million over five years) and changes to OS-HELP loans, Australian universities will likely see a further significant increase in student participation in existing and new outbound mobility programs (OMPs) in coming years. Although overarching mission statements provide broad generic goals, such as that the programs should be “transformational, deepening Australia's relationships in the region, both at the individual level and through expanding university, business and other stakeholder links” (New Colombo Plan), we need to better understand how this transformation to a more global perspective is to be achieved beyond the provision of funding to universities and documented reporting requirements (Stone, 2009).

 

Developing global perspectives and producing graduates to live and work in an increasingly connected world are fundamental goals within the tertiary education landscape (Bell, 2008 & Power, 2012). In the past decade, both the University of Western Sydney (UWS) and Macquarie University (MU) have increased the number of OMPs that they provide. UWS has seen, and will continue to see, an increase in the number of programs offered largely due to success in AsiaBound funding and, more recently, New Colombo initiatives. Similarly at MU, the Professionalisation and Community Engagement program (PACE), an established part of their core curriculum, seeks to expand opportunities for international outbound experiences, especially in Work Integrated Learning (WIL) and Community Based Service Learning (CBSL).

With the widespread adoption of greater internationalisation as an institutional goal (Chupp & Joseph, 2010; Clyne & Rizvi, 1998; Clyne & Woock, 1998; Daly & Barker, 2005 & Leask, 2009), many universities, not only UWS and MU, will seek to increase the overall number of students participating in OMPs. The programs are increasingly ambitious pedagogically, as well; the New Colombo Plan, for example, outlines a desire for these OMPs to be ‘transformational’ and not merely credentialing or study-tourism opportunities. These lofty goals demonstrate an inherent expectation that students participating in OMPs will undergo a transformational experience (Brown, 2009; Cole & Throssell, 2008; Gray, 2012; Gray & Downey, 2005 & 2012; Lean, 2011; Mezirow, 2000; Neppel, 2005). However, this begs the question: Are these expectations realistic given the diversity of student backgrounds and range of academic discipline groups participating in OMPs?  Furthermore, no conclusive empirical evidence quantifies the claim that OMPs invariably deliver transformational experiences (Stone, 2009), or more importantly, that these transformations are enduring. 

 

With the widespread adoption of greater internationalisation as an institutional goal (Chupp & Joseph, 2010; Clyne & Rizvi, 1998; Clyne & Woock, 1998; Daly & Barker, 2005 & Leask, 2009), many universities, not only UWS and MU, will seek to increase the overall number of students participating in OMPs. The programs are increasingly ambitious pedagogically, as well; the New Colombo Plan, for example, outlines a desire for these OMPs to be ‘transformational’ and not merely credentialing or study-tourism opportunities. These lofty goals demonstrate an inherent expectation that students participating in OMPs will undergo a transformational experience (Brown, 2009; Cole & Throssell, 2008; Gray, 2012; Gray & Downey, 2005 & 2012; Lean, 2011; Mezirow, 2000; Neppel, 2005). However, this begs the question: Are these expectations realistic given the diversity of student backgrounds and range of academic discipline groups participating in OMPs?  Furthermore, no conclusive empirical evidence quantifies the claim that OMPs invariably deliver transformational experiences (Stone, 2009), or more importantly, that these transformations are enduring. 

 

 

 

 

Support for this project has been provided by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching.