Enrollment cripples new summer study abroad programs proposals

Roberto Hodge, Multicultural Editor

The Study Abroad Office is now accepting proposals for new faculty-led summer 2016 study aboard programs until March 27.

Accepted proposals could allow students to visit the Bahamas, Belgium and many more.

New programs are proposed every year because of new faculty, and each year there is something different to offer students.

The programs also attempt to help students with their general education requirements.

Every spring semester, the office begins its planning for new summer programs and once accepted the programs lasts for three years.

Kurt Olausen, the director of study abroad, said many of the programs for the summer study abroad session are usually meant for those in a specific major, but because of Eastern’s enrollment on the decline, five out of the 16 programs have been cut.

Trips to China, England, Italy as well as a combined program in Germany, Netherlands and Belgium have been canceled.

Eastern saw 8,214 students enrolled this spring, which is a nearly 700 student decrease from the 8,913 enrolled fall 2014.

“We just don’t have as much of those students in the programs year after year,” Olausen said.

Eastern’s Study Abroad currently has 188 participants, which has declined since its peak of 335 participants in 2009.

Some departments have continued to keep their study abroad programs afloat for Summer 2015, such as kinesiology and sport studies majors’ trip to England and communication studies majors’ trip to Australia and New Zealand.

Africa is also a possible location Olausen said he would like to see their office make a partnership with because of how vast the continent is.

“Africa is huge,” Olausen said. “There is no reason we should not have these (locations) available.”

Olausen believes because enrollment has declined, some departments such as English, have not filled their program for studying aboard, which is typical for the department.

Even so, English majors were one of the top 10 major participants in the program with eight students; however, last academic year, English did not make the list.

The top department this year is family and consumer sciences with 28 participants.

“We’re sending roughly the same proportions, (but) we just haven’t had as many (students) to draw from,” Olausen said.

When it comes to the decline in student participants, Olausen said he is not fully convinced money is the only reason students turn down the opportunity.

Costs are involved when studying abroad, but some families may not support the student’s desires of traveling; some families may see the program as a “glorified” vacation.

Olausen said fears of travel, as well a lack of knowledge for the visiting location, could all be contributing factors to a student’s distaste for studying abroad.

Each program varies in the cost because of location, length of time, credits and tuition.

For example, through Eastern’s study abroad program, students can go to the Bahamas. For the one-week program, students can travel and take one to four credits for $3,860.

“I think there’s reluctance on both sides,” Olausen said, “If someone can afford to be on campus, they can afford to be in study abroad—there’s a way to do it.”

Roberto Hodge can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]