Although the international studies sector has professional bodies, it has no clear ‘professionalisation’ or training process, and study tours are often designed by academics with no training. With millions of dollars to be invested and thousands of students to participate in outbound mobility, a careful study of the dynamics of positive transformational experience overseas and resources to guide program design will help assure that resources developing and promoting OMPs are well spent. According to Downey and colleagues (2012:8):
International student mobility is an increasingly important element in Australian universities today, and study abroad and exchange, as an integral part of this, is recognised as contributing both to important generic graduate qualities such as globally–oriented citizenship, and to campus internationalisation more generally.
Predicated on this stance, EPITOME will examine transformational OMPs with a view to developing modules aligned with the anticipated increase of opportunities within internationalised curriculum. These modules will complement those already developed in the BTLH project by targeting the design phase prior to outbound mobility and focusing on short-term mobility in our region to support the creation of new types of educational opportunities. The BTLH curriculum was intended to supplement the historic pattern of Australian student mobility through a semester abroad in Europe and North America; the shift in focus for this study is toward the Asia-Pacific expansion of program types to include OMP experiences. The EPITOME project will achieve a greater understanding of transformational outbound mobility experiences by simultaneously investigating these experiences from both the perspective of the students presented with outbound mobility opportunities and university staff responsible for developing and implementing these programs. We want to know what makes the most successful transformative programs distinctive and how to replicate these programs.