Shorter mobility programmes break down barriers, finds new UUKi report

Thu, 24 Jun 2021 11:53:00 BST

Glasgow Caledonian University’s Professor Bob Gilmour contributed to a new report by UUKi, which has found that mobility programmes of just a few weeks can provide tangible outcomes for students.  

The Short-term mobility: long-term impact research surveyed 749 students and ran 17 student focus groups to understand more about students’ and universities’ experiences of such programmes. It found that international experiences of less than four weeks had a significant personal and professional impact on participants and helped break down barriers to international experiences. 

Shorter mobility programmes are often a highly focused and structured programme of activities, rather than the more traditional semesters or years abroad. Such experiences were reported to provide students with an international experience that enables them to continue with commitments at home and avoids disrupting existing study, as they are often designed to complement study modules. Additional benefits reported included lower and more transparent costs, access to funding opportunities, and a greater understanding of what to expect during the time abroad. 

Professor Gilmour, who was on the UUKi steering group, said: “We have witnessed first-hand at GCU the benefits of such short-term international study trips for not just students, but also staff. It was important that both our students and staff were able to inform such an important piece of work in collaboration with UUKi.”

Particular outcomes were reported around employability, with over half (53%) of participants who had undertaken a short-term mobility experience and are now in work feeling that their short-term mobility experienced helped them to get their current job; 83% of this group felt their short-term mobility experience had been beneficial to their career. Students also reported increases in personal skills, with almost all participants seeing increases in their self-confidence (88%), communication skills (93%), adaptability (93%), intercultural skills and interpersonal skills (89%).

These benefits can be particularly felt by under-represented groups in traditional mobility programmes, for whom longer periods of mobility can be more challenging – such as those from a lower-income households and those with caring responsibilities.