Global Leader Experiences: Abroad

We take students abroad, immersing them in a major city to tackle a global challenge.

Global Leader Experiences: Abroad (GLE: Abroad) is a powerful leadership programme that takes students abroad and uses immersive and experiential learning techniques to develop their inclusive leadership skills. Over four days, students are given a unique opportunity to grow their Cultural Intelligence (CQ), adapt and thrive within a new environment, work alongside local students studying in the city and develop the leadership skills required to quickly understand and navigate complex situations. As a result of the programme they build new networks – locally and globally – with fellow students, established leaders and employers in a different city.

Why do universities choose GLE: Abroad?

  • Increase outbound mobility through scalable programmes
  • Increase access to global experiences by offering short-term opportunities
  • Grow the university brand by further building up presence in key student recruitment markets
  • Add value to existing university partnerships by adding a student mobility opportunity
Kiara Clement, Student, University College London

“Going abroad for this programme has broadened my outlook on my own life; when I came back I started noticing things that I would never usually pay attention to, I just have a different outlook on the world.”

Learning outcomes

As a result of the programme students will have developed, and be able to demonstrate, the competencies required to be successful in the 21st century.


Through deepening their understanding of other cultures they will be more Empathetic

Through living with ambiguity they will be more Open

Through solving complex problems they will be more Influential

How it works

All Global Leader Experiences are structured around an annual grand challenge. The current challenge is: "How can we ensure our cities are resilient and inclusive?"

Students get know each other, share insights on the challenge and begin to understand the concept of CQ.

Challenge Immersions
Students are immersed beneath the surface of the city and meet visionary leaders from different sectors and organizations – whether that’s organizations like GE, Google, Arup, Habitat for Humanity, Red Cross or Pfizer. This allows the students to gain a deeper understanding of the city and explore the challenge through the lens of different organizations.

Innovation & Prototyping
Students are taken through an innovation process, with senior leaders acting as consultants. They develop innovative solutions in response to the challenge which they then test on local stakeholders and sector specialists. This presents the opportunity to observe, practise and reflect on different leadership styles, different approaches to problem solving and different ways to work within diverse groups.

Presenting Solutions
Students present their ideas to a panel of experts and city leaders who are specialists within their field. They receive on-the-spot feedback on their idea, their presentation and how they have worked as a group.

Reflection and Action Planning
Students reflect on their development across the programme and complete an assessment against the leadership competency framework. They then commit to action, planning how they will put their learning and development into practice in their studies, leadership roles and futures. 

Students join an alumni network of over 85,000 leaders worldwide. Our online platform provides the opportunity of life-long learning through networking and connecting with other Common Purpose alumni through our global connect events.

Why do students want to take part?

Because they want to:

  • be a global leader now – with the Cultural Intelligence needed to thrive in today’s world
  • develop leadership skills & competencies – crucial to being successful in the 21st century
  • change the world – bring fresh solutions to complex problems
  • broaden their horizons – through a global experience in another city.
Thomas Chard, Student, University of Exeter

“This journey has been incredible. Not only have I met great people but I learnt a lot about myself and different cultures.”

Dominic Akandwanaho, Student, Harvard University

"This has been wonderful overall. I have been challenged and inspired equally. I feel more prepared than ever before to launch my ideas into the world!"

Global cities

Common Purpose can deliver GLE:Abroad in 30 cities globally. A GLE: Abroad offers the option to bring in a university partner in the destination city. This can enhance existing partnerships or build new ones. It also enables local students to participate, creating a mixed peer group.

Belo Horizonte

Hong Kong
Ho Chi Minh City

Kuala Lumpur
New Delhi

New York
São Paulo

Common Purpose Global Leader Experience: China 2015

Common Purpose - Westpac Asian Exchange Scholarship Leadership Development Programme


You commission the programme for your university. This enables you freedom to choose the location, the local partner and specific dates. It also means you can engage your alumni and other stakeholders within the programme.

Number of Students




Cost per student








*Most programmes are free of charge for students. Universities may on occasion and at their discretion choose to pass on costs to their students.

*Each price includes all curriculum design, project management, contributor and visit host recruitment, immersion visit transportation, programme delivery and materials, Common Purpose staffing, Common Purpose staff travel and accommodation, evaluation and post-programme alumni engagement. Please note that the above costs do not include tax, venues, catering, accessibility requirements, AV equipment, student accommodation or any student or university staff-related travel costs.

If you have any questions or want to find out more:

Contact Andy Coxall, Chief Executive, Common Purpose Student Experiences.