The University of Guelph has received almost $1 million in federal funding to increase the participation of traditionally underrepresented students in study and experiential learning abroad.

Over a hundred U of G students will be able develop global skills through two newly launched projects made possible by the Government of Canada’s Global Skills Opportunity (GSO) program.

The new funding will help enhance accessibility and inclusion in international learning programs for undergraduate students who are Indigenous (First Nation, Inuit or Métis), have disabilities and/ or have financial need.

“This is by far the largest funding we have ever received for study abroad initiatives,” said Dr. Lynne Mitchell, the director and International Liaison Officer at U of G’s Centre for International Programs.

“We are delighted to be able to reduce barriers, increase supports and provide funding that will allow more U of G students to have transformational experiences abroad.”

The funding will go toward two projects:

Inclusive International Summer Field Schools

This project aims to reduce barriers and increase participation of underrepresented students in the University’s summer field school programs. These short-term, faculty-led programs combine academics with experiential learning in the field, allowing faculty to use an international setting to bring content to life. The new funding will provide travel grants that will cover most costs of these programs for eligible students.

Also, as part of the Global Skills Opportunity project, a new offering in the summer of 2022 will be held in Sweden and will be called “Conversations with the Sami: Revitalizing Indigenous Lands and Cultures” led by Dr. Kim Anderson, a professor in the Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition.

Inclusive Study Abroad program

GSO funding will help expand accessibility to the many exchange programs and other international learning activities already offered by the Centre for International Programs and other units on-campus. This program provides travel grants for students in underrepresented groups of up to $5,000 or $10,000 each, depending on the length of the travel program.

The Centre for International Program also plans to enhance pre-departure and re-entry programming to support any student who wants to go abroad to study, including first-time travellers.

As well, there will be an emphasis on intercultural competency and transferable, employability skills to ensure that students have the competencies needed to succeed in a diverse, globalized world.

The funding comes from the Government of Canada’s new Global Skills Opportunity pilot program, a national outbound student mobility program that is expected to enable more than 16,000 Canadian college and undergraduate-level university students from across the country to acquire the global skills employers want and the Canadian economy needs.

A key component of the Government of Canada’s International Education Strategy, Global Skills Opportunity is funded by Employment and Social Development Canada and is administered jointly by Colleges and Institutes Canada and Universities Canada.

Only about 11 percent of Canadian university undergraduates and three percent of college students participate in work or study abroad experiences during their studies. The new program stands to change that.

By empowering post-secondary institutions to implement solutions to barriers to participation, Global Skills Opportunity aims to expand the horizons of all Canadian students, and improve Canada’s competitiveness on the world stage.

“We know funding can be a big barrier for many students to participate in study abroad experiences,” said Mitchell.

“We also know that there are accessibility barriers for many underrepresented groups. This new funding will go a long way to helping address both those problems.”


Lynne Mitchell
Centre for International Programs director