University of Strathclyde



Transitioning the year abroad – Before / During / After” is a student-led project which aims to look into the major transition phase the year abroad represents for language students. By gathering feedback from current students who are either about to go on their year abroad, currently abroad or have just come back from their intercalary year, the team will, firstly, aim to produce a clear picture of the current situation in terms of challenges, support available, and training requirement and, secondly, aim to develop an innovative approach to supporting students in transitioning the year abroad.

This project was supported by Enhancement Theme funding from the QAA Scotland.

The full report is available at the bottom of the page.


School of Humanities

Contact Details

Cédric Moreau,, School of Humanities (French), Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences


Student Transitions


Intercultural awareness and the ability to conduct business or, at the very least, social interaction in a foreign language is systematically recognised by employers as a highly desirable added value to any graduate’s attributes. (CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey 2014)

In line with one of the key aims of the university’s strategic plan 2015-2020 of having “engaged and internationally-aware students” and in keeping with the next phase of the university’s Student Transitions Enhancement Themes (2015-2017) which will look at transitions through and out of university, the Transitioning the Year Abroad – Before / During / After student-led project is focussing on this key transition phase for all language students. 


The project aims to:

  • Get a real sense of what the students’ experiences are in relation the transition cycle around the year abroad;
  • Assess to what extent students are aware of the added value factor which the year abroad represents in terms of recruitment and careers;
  • Look at what is currently offered within the school of Humanities in terms of support and training for students before, during and after their year abroad;
  • Research what is done elsewhere (internally / externally);
  • Produce a full report with recommendations;
  • Implement innovative changes based on recommendations.

 The project is being undertaken by a team of two student interns (in a sequential timescale over a period spanning two academic years). The first phase (summer 2016) saw one student intern work on information gathering and analysis, under the supervision of a team of academic and professional from Modern Languages and the careers Service. After researching the various issues mentioned above through a variety of means (literature review, targeted surveys, interviews) our student intern produced a report with recommendations.

In phase 2 of the project, planned for winter 2016/17, a second student intern will focus on the development of tools, aiming to ensure implementation for students during the 2017/18 academic session. It is expected that a blended learning format coupled with a story-telling approach, such as the one successfully piloted by OSDU for their ‘What about me?’ training course, will offer the most efficient platform for delivering the training and will ensure sustainability while greatly facilitating the cascading of the project’s outcomes. In terms of improving communication between cohorts, we will aim to rely more on social media and virtual platforms to increase information sharing amongst students.

Key findings at the end of phase 1

To quote our student intern’s report: “The experience abroad is widely regarded as a vital time in many students’ lives as it allows them to gain many interpersonal and language skills that are both attractive in the job market and beneficial at a personal and academic level. Despite the success of the year abroad, many students still face difficulties while studying during their intercalary year and such difficulties limit the positive impact that the year abroad has on them.

[We] believe, however, that these issues can be overcome by introducing simple changes and additions into the programme which would result in an even more positive and beneficial experience for the students.”


A series of detailed recommendations have been made by our student intern in the wake of her research and analysis of the year abroad transition for our students.

These include: improving information and training ahead, as early as in first year, of the year abroad as well as during and after; appointing a Year Abroad Co-ordinator with overall responsibility for all aspects of the transition process; develop the use of online tools to facilitate vertical communication between students of various cohorts; increase collaboration with the Careers Office to improve students’ awareness of the value of the year abroad on the job market. 

Next steps - Year 2 of the project

Phase 2 of the project will concentrate on finding the best way to implement as many of the recommendations as possible. A second intern will be recruited early in 2017 to help with this process, with a particular emphasis on developing online support and communication.

Student involvement

This is first and foremost a student-led project and our intern has done the bulk of the research, data gathering and analysis work. 


The full report is available to download below