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Senate hears presentation on study abroad changes

| Thursday, November 12, 2015

Student senators received a presentation from Tom Guinan, associate vice president for administrative operations for Notre Dame International, and junior Frank Wamsley regarding the policy change on overseas flights for students in study abroad programs this Wednesday.

Previously, airfare was covered by the University; starting with the 2016-2017 school year, students who are studying abroad will be responsible for the costs of their flights.

“We had a change in study abroad policy, mainly the financial aspect of it, that was announced over the summer and will go into effect next academic year,” Guinan said. “People have been surprised in the past that they didn’t have to pay for their airfare, but Notre Dame has had a long-standing policy that airfare would be covered.”

Guinan said that by having students pay for their tickets, the University will be able to send up to 50 more students abroad each year. He also said this is just the first effort by Notre Dame International to increase participation in study abroad programs. 

“We’ve seen a disturbing declining trend in our ability to send students abroad, mainly due to rising costs for overseas institutions,” Guinan said. “About 10 years ago, we’d send 800, 850 students abroad. Last year, we only sent 690, and the numbers are just going down by 15 to 20 students a year.”

According to Guinan, Notre Dame International decided it was “unacceptable and appalling” that so many students were being turned down for study abroad.

“Every student who applies is qualified to go, we just didn’t have the resources to send all the students abroad that we wanted to,” Guinan said. “Our goal is to send between 85 and 90 percent of students who apply abroad.”

Pangborn Hall senator Taylor Still said in an email that despite concerns about the new costs, she is pleased Notre Dame International is working to expand the program.

“While the immediate cost incurred by students is inconvenient and unwarranted, the decision is coming from a well-intentioned place,” she said. “Especially as Notre Dame International expansion efforts proceed, I am more excited that a greater number of students will have this opportunity.”

Students who are receiving financial aid will be given help in purchasing the tickets. According to Guinan, the same percentage of tuition that is covered by the University will also be given to buy a plane ticket.

“That was the key consideration before we implemented this policy,” Guinan said. “We didn’t want to exclude students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford the airfare, and those on financial aid will have access to the programs in the same way they had before.”

Student senate meets every Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the Notre Dame room of LaFortune Student Center. All meetings are open to the public.

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About Megan Valley

Megan Valley is one of the Associate News Editors for The Observer. A junior majoring in English and the Program of Liberal Studies, she hails from Flushing, MI and lives in Flaherty Hall.

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