Rollins College experienced a budget deficit this year of about four million dollars. One of the reasons for Rollins’ budget issue was the high number of students studying abroad, and now the study abroad programs are facing some cuts, and International Programs has sent in some proposed cuts to the president’s office. Giselda Beaudin, Director of International Programs, posed the question, “How do we control study abroad costs, without damaging study abroad?”
Some of these cuts will affect all students who want to study abroad, and others will only affect those who want to study abroad multiple times. These changes will go into effect in Spring 2015 and will affect current students. Beaudin pointed out that it is important to “balance the budget issue, while keeping the culture of study abroad, which is pretty strong on campus.” Though the president and administrators are overwhelmingly supportive of study abroad, it has become difficult to balance the economics of study abroad with the high numbers of people who want to participate in the program.
Rollins allows all of its scholarships to go with students as they study abroad. With the new proposal, students will not be able to take their scholarships with them for a second semester abroad. Usually, Rollins only has around ten students a year try to study abroad for a second semester, so this change will not affect a lot of students.
Scholarships will still be retained for a second semester if it is an exchange program. Rollins currently has exchange programs in Spain, Ireland, Japan, and Hong Kong. With the loophole making exchange programs more appealing, they are hopeful to expand their exchange program offerings, possibly to include New Zealand and Taiwan soon.
These exchange programs do not have as many students participating as the more traditional study abroad, so this loophole will serve to send students to an underutilized program at Rollins. With an exchange program, more of the scholarship money actually stays on Rollins campus, instead of being sent to a foreign university.
Another change is that the school will probably no longer be paying for VISAs. Originally, the school wanted to stop paying for airfare. Beaudin said, “We were under a lot of pressure to remove airfare, but we just felt that would be a stopping block for students, so we are trying to resist that.” VISAs often only cost a few hundred dollars, but plane tickets can be several thousand, so it was important to International Programs to only make the students pay for VISAs.
Some high cost programs will also be eliminated or have numbers capped. For example, the Washington D.C. internship program will probably have a cap on the number of students allowed to participate. Several high cost SIT programs will also be eliminated, but some of the countries, such as Australia, will still be offered under normal study abroad.
Overall, study abroad participation has been growing in the last few years. Next fall there is an enrollment of 122 students who plan to study abroad, the highest ever. Some schools that have such high numbers studying abroad end up capping numbers on participation. Rollins wants to avoid that, since studying abroad is part of the dedication to internationalization that the campus has been promoting the last few years. It is unlikely that students will see capped numbers on study abroad anytime soon, if ever.
In addition to more exchange programs, International Programs hopes to add more summer programs. Right now, Rollins has many short immersion and field study activities, but they want to add longer programs over the summer to make it easier for students to study abroad.
Beaudin said, “I think it’s a good problem for Rollins to have. It’s kind of unusual for a school to have so many students going abroad that they are trying to manage that. Usually, they are trying to get students abroad. So, it’s a really exciting thing that Rollins has so many students going abroad. And so now, we just need to figure out a way to support that, without getting the college stuck in a position where they can’t balance the budget.” Hopefully, International Programs will know within the next few weeks whether or not their proposal has been approved.