Learning Abroad

June 2016

Participation in learning abroad programs across Australia has increased fourfold over the last 10 years (AUIDF, 2015).

Recognising this growing importance, Universities Australia commissioned IEAA to undertake a comprehensive research project on learning abroad.

The subsequent reports examine current trends and outcomes, analysis of global policy settings and a review of support offered across government and institutions in Australia, including:

  • Outcomes of Learning Abroad Programs (Dr Davina Potts)
  • International Trends in Learning Abroad (Dr Cate Gribble, Dr Ly Tran)
  • Learning Abroad at Australian Universities: the Current Environment (Leanne Harrison, Dr Davina Potts).

"The work is an important stock take of student mobility in Australia and highlights the considerable benefits for society in having internationally experienced graduates," said Universities Australia.

"As we move into an era where students are increasingly looking to improve their skills and enhance their employability, research which demonstrates the link between mobility and career development will become ever more important."

This project was commissioned by Universities Australia and supported by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training.

Outcomes of Learning Abroad Programs
  • Dr Davina Potts, The University of Melbourne


In 2014, more than 30,000 students from Australian universities travelled abroad to undertake study, work or community service as part of their Australian degree program (AUIDF, 2015).

Although this represents only 11 per cent of the cohort, participation in learning abroad programs has increased fourfold over the last 10 years. As the culture of learning abroad develops on Australian campuses, it will be necessary to shift the focus from participation to access (i.e. who participates and how can we expand access to under-represented groups) and outcomes assessment.

This paper provides a review what is known about the benefits of learning abroad, including those afforded to individuals, institutions and broader society.

Download a PDF version of 'Outcomes of Learning Abroad Programs'

This project was commissioned by Universities Australia and supported by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training.

International Trends in Learning Abroad
  • Dr Cate Gribble, Nexus Education
  • Dr Ly Tran, Deakin University


The broad benefits of international student mobility are now well understood globally and learning abroad is a major focus of most higher education institutions’ internationalisation strategies.

The growing recognition of the broad individual and national benefits has led many nations with traditionally low rates of outbound student mobility, including Australia, to adopt policies and practices that promote learning abroad.

This report provides an overview of international learning abroad trends, with a focus on intra-degree outbound mobility. It aims to examine different policy approaches – including government and institutional policies and practices – that encourage more students’ engagement in international experience during their higher education programs.

Download a PDF version of 'International Trends in Learning Abroad'

This project was commissioned by Universities Australia and supported by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training.

Learning Abroad at Australian Universities
  • Leanne Harrison, Australian National University
  • Dr Davina Potts, The University of Melbourne


Only 10 to 15 years ago, representatives of Australian universities would often tell international partner institutions that Australian students don’t study abroad. Over the last 10 years, a major cultural change has occurred.

This may be a consequence of growing numbers of international students on campus, an increasingly mobile Australian population or a global trend of young people seeking meaningful opportunities outside of their home context. It is most likely a combination of factors, including an increased focus of university and government policy makers and practitioners to making learning abroad more academically accessible, more affordable and less complicated.

This paper provides an overview of the current context of learning abroad at Australian universities and the policies and practices that support the participation of students in these programs.

Download a PDF version of 'Learning Abroad at Australian Universities'

This project was commissioned by Universities Australia and supported by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training.