Does studying abroad help academic achievement?

Cardwell, Paul James (2019) Does studying abroad help academic achievement? European Journal of Higher Education, 10 (2). pp. 147-163. ISSN 2156-8243 (

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Studying abroad as part of a degree has become commonplace for many students in European and other developed countries. Universities actively promote opportunities as part of internationalization strategies. Whilst research has looked into the ‘abroad’ aspect of study abroad, there is less literature on the ‘study’ aspect, and in particular, the effects that the period has on academic achievement. This article provides evidence that studying abroad has a beneficial effect on overall academic achievement. The article compares the final degree grades of students at Sheffield Law School (UK) who participated in a year studying abroad, with those who did not. Interviews with students across the period deepen the qualitative dimension to the research by exploring how students felt about their academic experience. Whilst few students opt to go abroad for the purposes of improving grades, most feel that the additional confidence and maturity, alongside deeper knowledge of their subject and a break in the pattern of their studies, contributes to their higher achievement.