Students Help Students Study Abroad [Inside Higher Education]

By Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Education

Ask study abroad professionals what their challenges are, and the increasing cost for students – followed by the rising cost of program administration and insufficient institutional scholarship support – top the list (according to a 2008 survey from the Forum on Education Abroad). A handful of colleges across the country now levy fees to address, at least to a modest degree, two of those three issues

Many colleges have long charged fees of students studying abroad to cover program administration costs (number two on the list of challenges). But these new fees are being charged of all students — even those who never study abroad — to fund institutional scholarships. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for instance, students voted last year by more than a two-to-one margin to instate a $5 fee to be used for study abroad scholarships; in the first allocation of awards, 177 students collectively received about $150,000 in scholarships for winter break and spring semester programs.

Also in that election, Illinois students overwhelmingly favored restoring the controversial (and retired) Chief Illiniwek mascot. “The students didn’t vote the way the university administration wanted on that one; we are delighted they did vote the way we’d like on the study abroad referendum,” said William I. Brustein, the associate provost for international affairs and professor of sociology, political science and history. “I was delighted with it because it allowed me to leverage more funds both internally and externally. You can just imagine when you go to a potential donor and you say, ‘Look how much our students care about study abroad. They’ve taxed themselves.’” [Click here to read the full story.]