COVID-19 and Study Abroad

Effects of COVID-19 on Study Abroad Participation

Dr. Hammersmith has partnered with Dr. Hermann Kurthen (SOC) on a project examining how COVID-19 has disrupted study abroad and international student exchange. 

COVID-19 has severely disrupted student exchange (see Figure 1, right). Comparing pre- with post-pandemic student mobility at public universities in Michigan (GVSU), Austria (JKU) and Germany (Hochschule Landsberg-HL and University of Education Schwäbisch Gmünd-PHSG), this comparative pilot study investigates the pandemic's effect on new modes and models of student exchange at the individual and institutional levels. The project uses a mixed methods approach, consisting of the analysis of institutional student exchange data between 2019 and 2023 and interviews, surveys or focus groups with students, faculty, staff, administrators, and other stakeholders (e.g., funding agencies and study abroad organizations). This study asks:

  1. How and to what degree was study abroad and international student exchange affected by the pandemic?
  2. What were the effects on broadening or reducing student access for different demographic student groups?
  3. What coursebased teaching innovations happened in the realm of virtualization, such as online programs through study abroad providers and partner institutions, remote internships, project- and team-based collaborative online international learning (COIL)?
  4. Did universities expand online courses for students residing abroad? And, did virtualization also affect advising, college fairs, internships, and other forms of international student exchange?
  5. Will this trend persist due to the rise of travel restrictions, health liability, safety considerations, travel costs, and environmental concerns, as suggested by recent surveys.

This project is a collaboration with Dr. Hermann Kurthen (GVSU, SOC) who is currently completing a Fulbright scholarship award at Johannes Kepler Universität (JKU) in Linz, Austria. Dr. Kurthen has included several colleagues in in this work: two Austrian colleagues, i.e., Dr. Petra Aigner, and Dr. Almina Bešić at JKU in Linz and one German colleague - Dr. Anja Künzinger in Schwäbisch Gmünd, Baden-Württemberg.

The current research assistant on this project is Louis Cousino (SOC Major, STA Minor). 

Inquiries about this project should be send to: [email protected]

Figure 1. Study Abroad Participation, 2016-2022

Figure 1. Study Abroad Participation between 2016 and 2022

This figure shows the drop in study abroad participation at GVSU during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Page last modified December 21, 2023