Study Abroad is eliminated, but not study abroad

Lack of participation is the reason for elimination of the six-year-old Study Abroad program here at Dillard effective Aug. 1, and the resources have been directed to the library budget, according to Dr. Yolanda Page, vice president for Academic Affairs.

Students still will be able to study abroad but will have to go through the Registrar’s Office to do so in the future.

The administration decided “the resources could be better used in other areas,” she said, referring to the $40,000 budget for the Study Abroad program, noting that on average, about two students at year from DU took advantage of the program. The problem for students, she added, was not the lack of desire, but the expense.

“Cost was the biggest problem for students when it came to studying abroad,” Page said.

Many students who were interested changed their minds when they learned total cost of the experience and that they might not have enough financial aid to cover it, she said. For example, financial aid can’t be used if the student doesn’t get academic credit.

Since fall 2014, eight students from Dillard have gone abroad for study, according to the Registrar’s Office, three of them through the “Semester at Sea” program. One student from Dillard is currently participating in “Semester at Sea” this fall.

Page said “Semester at Sea,” which allows students to experience different countries as they travel and study on a cruise ship, is still an option for interested students. She said costs vary by program, but “Semester at Sea” on average costs $27,555, including tuition, housing, meals and premium medical insurance. (Go to their website for more details.)

Tassion Lott-Minor, a graduating senior in Mass Communication, was one of the last DU students to use the formal Study Abroad program. She took classes in Nairobi, Kenya, in last spring in an experience she called “life-changing” because she gained a multicultural perspective by interacting with people from all over Africa and Asia.

Lott-Minor said she met “some amazing people that I’ll forever be friends with,” but the academic system was different, and she didn’t care for it.

“Academically, I prefer the American system,” she said. She said her classes would have two to three tests with three to five questions and few assignments, other than lots of group projects.

Lott-Minor said the semester cost about $9,800, not including food. The program was $8,500 less a $1,000 scholarship from the Knowledge Exchange Institute; $1,200 for airfare; and $100 for a six-month visa. She said TOPS could not be used, but she was able to offset some of the costs with a $2,500 Pell grant.

Regarding closure of the program, Lott-Minor said, “If more students are using the library than studying abroad, then that money should definitely go towards the library as long as students are still able to study abroad without the use of an office.”

Page said the funds transfer to the library will go toward investing in a distance learning program and providing additional access to printers for students.

Page said if the office were to reopen, the setup would be different to reduce operating costs.

(Alexis Granville contributed to this report.)