Great expectations: the impact of friendship groups on the intercultural learning of Australian students abroad
The promotion of study abroad, or ‘horizontal mobility’, as a culturally and academically enriching experience, voluntarily undertaken (Rivza and Teichler 2007), has been spearheaded by the European Union, as part of the Bologna process. More recently however, universities and governments in Anglophone countries – historically the net importers of international students – have also recognized the importance of boosting the mobility of domestic students. In the US, study abroad is gaining considerable support and public funding through the Simon Study Abroad Act (2009). Likewise in Australia, the establishment of the National Roundtable on Outbound Mobility in 2006 signalled the Commonwealth Government’s commitment to boosting horizontal mobility – a commitment that is mirrored in the policies of many Australian universities (Olsen 2008). Perhaps most remarkable are the changes in some Asian countries. Historically net exporters of ‘vertically mobile’ students (Rivza and Teichler 2007), who move, of necessity from developing countries to economically, educationally advanced ones, China (Marginson and van der Wende 2007) and Singapore (NUS 2009), for example, are now in a position to promote horizontal mobility, due to their substantial investment in higher education.