Government strategies are driving a range of international experiences for students

Government strategies have continued to drive a range of international experiences for students over the past year, with three major new initiatives announced in Russia, Germany and the USA. Russia’s ‘5/100 initiative’ was launched in 2012 and has been designed to boost the number of international faculty in Russian universities to 10% and international students to 15% by 2020 as part of a wider plan to develop the global competitiveness of Russian research and higher education. There is considerable financial backing behind the project, which has two primary aims: to encourage international students to study in Russia, and to have at least five Russian universities ranked in the top 100 in the world by 2020. To raise standards, a foundational year in Russia has been made a prerequisite of university entrance, with aspiring foreign students required to take courses in Russian language and literature at Russian universities before enrolling for a degree. The Ministry of Education and Science launched a new scholarship programme in 2014, which will provide $133.3m funding for 3,000 Russian postgraduates to study overseas at some of the world’s leading universities between 2014 and 2017. A measure taken largely to reverse Russia’s severe brain drain of recent years, scholarship winners will need to commit to return to Russia and work in a state organisation or enterprise for at least three years after graduation. 

Germany is also pushing study abroad for its university students, with a new programme that aims for half of all degree students to experience study abroad by 2020. At present, roughly a third of all German students spend some time at a university outside Germany during their degree, but the German government and Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) are working to increase this to 50%. Funding is available for 118,000 German students to study abroad each year, with further funding to support international study for 36,000 low income students and for universities to offer scholarships for a further 10,000 able students. Germany also aims to increase the number of international students studying at German universities by 17% over the next few years. In contrast to brain-drain driving similar programmes in Russia and Asia, the primary incentive for Germany is to increase their competitive advantage in business, science and industry, and to “gain long-term friends of Germany throughout the world”.

I n the USA, the Institute of International Education has launched a new five-year programme, ‘Generation Study Abroad’, to double the number of students obtaining international experience during their degree from the present 295,000 (10% of the student population) to 600,000 by 2019. The move is driven by recognition that globalisation is both changing the way the world operates, and changing the skills and experience employers look for in their graduate hires. The IIE is working in partnership with a range of governments, higher education institutions and companies to expand the number of opportunities for US students to study and intern abroad, whether through academic exchange partnerships, international placements or scholarships for international study