In order to assess how accessibletravelling abroad is for students it is important to look in to a variety offorms of travelling, such as: students taking a gap year prior to university,students studying abroad as part of their degree and students volunteeringabroad. In order to gain a deeper understanding of this, this review will bebased on students travelling as a whole rather than just looking at travelpatterns of Cardiff University students. Although the literature surroundingthis topic covers a multitude of different subjects, this review will focus onthe social impacts that arise from students travelling abroad before and duringuniversity.
It has been asserted by Crawford and Cribb(2012) that the traditional pathway after school is for students to go straightto university, yet in recent years this path has become diversified as thereare a growing number of individuals who take a gap-year period. This has beendescribed by some such as King (2011) as a socially approved interruption inthe transition to adulthood, allowing students to explore potential adult roleswithout committing to university. According to Sherifi (2016), there is a hugemisconception regarding the accessibility of gap years. She states thatmajority of people work extremely hard to afford their gap year, meaning thatthey are for anyone and everyone. Also, from completing surveys she raises thepoint that most people think that travelling abroad is nearly 3 times moreexpensive than it actually is, thus if more people were aware of the cheaperways to travel they would realise how attainable it is. This moratorium periodhas proved to be beneficial for many, as researchers such as Birch (2007)suggest that those who took time off before entering university had higherlevels of achievement than those who did not, due to students gaining valuablelife skills during their time abroad. This is reinforced by other literaturewhich implies that gap-years prove a critical opportunity for young people todevelop skills and confidence making them more competitive in career markets.(Heath, S.
2007). Yet, not all of the literature surrounding this topic suggeststhat taking a gap year is positive, as it has been asserted by some that thefreedom of being away from school makes students become lazy or unproductive,which consequently makes them less achieving at University. (Robin Lutsky,2013). Thus, there seems to be a conflicting argument of whether the impacts oftravelling abroad for a gap year have social benefits or not, so more researchcould be conducted in order to conclude how travelling abroad before universityimpacts students. Students are also able to travel abroadduring their time at University by opting to study for a year in a differentcountry. It has been asserted that studying abroad as part of a degree is avery practical way of travelling due to the UK government issuing non-repayabletravel grants for students willing to study abroad through a program calledErasmus.
(gov.uk website). This program aims to give all students an equalchance at studying abroad if they wish to, with the intention that studyingabroad will make students more employable and enable them to gain valuable lifeskills. Moreover, an analysis from HSBC shows that studying abroad for a yearduring University can be £13,404 cheaper than staying in the UK. (HSBC, 2014).This has been described as a ‘fees loophole’, meaning that British students payonly 15% of normal tuition fees if they spend the entire year abroad. As aresult of this, studying abroad has been proved to be very accessible for anystudent at university as the current research addresses it is cheaper to studya year abroad than in the UK. Additionally, the literature suggests that studyabroad experiences raise students’ awareness of their own culture as well ashelping them to employ culturally sensitive and culturally appropriate skillsfor later life.
(Wook-Jin Kim, 2012). Ergo, from this we can assume that goingabroad as part of a student’s degree has social benefits as it helps them tobecome more well rounded individuals which may make them more employable in thefuture. Yet, despite the accessibility and benefits of studying abroad that theliterature advocates, in the year 2014-15 it was reported by Gani (2015) thatonly 30,000 students out of a possible 2.
28 million chose to study abroad.Therefore, this raises the question of why more students aren’t opting to studyfor a year abroad as part of their degree if it is cheaper and sociallybeneficial for the students who partake. Another way in which students travel duringuniversity are volunteer abroad placements. As asserted by Wearing (2001),volunteer tourism is more sustainable and ethical than alternative tourism, andcan foster mutual understanding and respect between different cultures. Avariety of literature assesses that volunteering abroad allows for mutualbenefits of global citizenry and disabusing stereotypes, as well as enhancinginternational and cross-cultural understandings. (Matthews 2008, D’Amore 1998).
As a result, they assert that volunteering abroad helps students to gain awider cultural stance of the world and thus helps bridge the gap between whatis classed as ‘the developed’ and ‘the undeveloped’ world. Yet, some literaturesuggests that this negatively impacts the host country such as Sin (2001) whoargued that volunteer tourists are motivated more by a desire ‘to travel’rather than ‘to contribute’, and that they regard aid receivers as inferior.Thus, from this aspect it can be inferred that if volunteers are going abroadfor the wrong reasons it can have negative social impacts for the citizens ofthat country. Yet, overall, volunteering seems to be highly accessible, as manyuniversities give grants for students to volunteer abroad through a variety ofschemes and help students through their fundraising process. In relation toCardiff, a program called ‘Global Opportunities’ gives bursaries in order tomake volunteering abroad more affordable for students. (Cardiff UniversityWebsite). This allows students to have an equal change to travel during theirtime at University, making it a highly achievable way to travel whilst atUniversity. In conclusion, the general consensus fromthe literature available it is apparent that travelling abroad for students bothbefore and during University is very accessible, and there are a variety ofsocial impacts associated with it.
As mentioned previously, it is unconcludedwhy students aren’t taking a year to study abroad as part of their degree ifthis is a cheaper option, thus more research should be led in order to settlewhether students are aware of the accessibility of studying abroad, and if thisis something they even consider. There is also limiting literature addressingthe accessibility of students travelling abroad during their time at universityfor holiday purposes, therefore more research could be conveyed in order tofind out whether students are able to do so. A comparison could also be madelooking at whether it is more accessible to travel before or during university,taking in to account the various social impacts.