Finances important when developing study abroad programs

Marissa Mendel

Money is the largest issue prohibiting students from studying abroad, and faculty members must consider it when developing a study abroad program, said Sandy Baker, administrative assistant at the Office of International Affairs.

About 20 faculty members gathered in the Student Center yesterday afternoon to be educated on developing faculty-led study abroad programs. The program was a part of this week’s Study Abroad Summit, held by the Office of International Affairs.

Baker said it’s important to consider financial issues when planning a budget for a study abroad program. She said costs have to be detailed, affordable, transparent and written far ahead of time to give to the students.

Items that must be considered when planning a budget include cell phone rentals, transportation, field trip costs and the currency exchange rate.

Baker warned faculty members the budget must be transferred into dollars and the exchange rate has to be estimated for when the money will be paid. She said it is important to prepare for increases in the rate.

“Do not be optimistic about the exchange rate,” she said. “You have to pad it.”

Baker also spoke about university compliance and reminded the attendees that they must follow the rules even if the laws vary in the country they are in.

“When in Rome, you cannot do what the Romans do,” Baker said.

She said faculty members cannot purchase alcohol or condone drinking, even if there is no drinking age overseas.

Tara Jackson, financial aid coordinator for the Student Financial Aid Office, spoke about helping students get financial aid for study abroad programs.

She uses the planned budget the faculty member develops and tries to help get money for the students who want to participate.

In addition to budget, Kenneth Cushner, executive director of the Office of International Affairs, told the faculty members to keep in mind health, safety and pre-departure orientations when developing short-term programs.

Faculty members with experience leading study abroad programs went around the room sharing their experiences.

Linda Robertson, director for the Center for International and Intercultural Education, said requiring courses for education majors in overseas locations has helped with recruiting for study abroad programs.

Andy Lepp, assistant professor of exercise, leisure and sport, explained how he incorporates a weeklong class prior to his two-week trip to Uganda.

“They can see firsthand and they can sort of refer to some of the things I teach,” Lepp said.

Nursing professor Ruth Ludwick and Max Grubb, assistant professor of journalism and mass communication, spoke about their experiences leading programs in Europe.

The Study Abroad Summit will continue tomorrow with a student study abroad information session from 1 to 2 p.m. in the Moulton Hall Ballroom.

From 2 to 3:30 p.m. in the same room, Susanne Peters and Marcello Fantoni will give presentations as part of Honors Week.

Contact international affairs reporter Marissa Mendel at [email protected].