IIE Releases Report on Study Abroad and STEM

March 24, 2009

The Institute of International Education on Monday released a paper on promoting study abroad in science and technology fields, the latest of a series of papers on study abroad capacity and participation. The report notes that about 16 percent of American study abroad students are in STEM fields, while they make up about 26 percent of the undergraduate population. "The academic benefit of study at a foreign university is less immediately obvious in engineering than, say, in languages or history. Engineering professors tend to be more reluctant than others to grant credit for studies conducted with international colleagues. And the students themselves typically are not fluent in foreign languages," states the report. "Still, both European and, more recently, American experience shows these obstacles can be overcome through innovative programming. The international mobility of German (and other European) engineering students has increased dramatically over the last 15 years. This is to a great extent due to exchange programs involving faculty on the departmental level. Through specific agreements on courses and credits, they better understood each other’s educational principles and developed trust in the quality of their partners’ teaching, the indispensable basis for more flexible and generous approach to curricular differences."

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