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How to send one million Americans abroad within a decade: Lincoln Commission reports to US Congress and President

The Commission on the Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Fellowship Program has presented its report Global Competence and National Needs to the Congress and President. The vision: sending one million Americans to study abroad every year by 2016-17, i.e. within a decade. This figure corresponds to half of the number of undergraduate degrees awarded annually by American colleges and universities.

The main objective of the Lincoln Commission was to devise recommendations for a study programme that expands study abroad options for American students, with a special focus on developing countries. The recent international climate has also heightened the need for a more culturally aware community, in particular in regards to achieving ‘global competency’. The report concludes that ‘greater engagement of American undergraduates with the world around them is vital to the nation’s well-being’.

The bulk of the programme’s funding will go directly to students with emphasis on the diversity of beneficiaries and quality of the opportunities. Fellowships and scholarships will be limited to one year, with amounts between zero and $5 000 depending on characteristics and length of the study abroad period. The Commission sets an average award to be $1 750. With federal funding beginning at $50 million and rising to $ 125 million, the opportunities for US students to study abroad are expected to grow quickly. The ambition is that this will lead to a situation where a period abroad will be common practice for most courses.

The Commission considers national leadership and support essential. If the programme is managed either by the State Department or by the Department of Education, the Commission recommends that agencies involved in international education and student exchange should have a role on an advisory board overseeing the programme development and implementation.

The Lincoln report
Executive Summary