The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Abroad pricing policy to change

Joe Piarulli | Thursday, September 21, 2006

Over 50 percent of Notre Dame undergraduate students spend part of their college careers far away from South Bend – between 900 and 1,000 students choose to take part in one of the University’s more than 40 international study programs annually.

As a response to the continuously increasing student demand for study abroad programs, a new study abroad pricing policy will go into effect in the fall of 2007.

According to Julia Douthwaite, Assistant Provost for the Office of International Studies (OIS), students should see the new pricing program as a benefit.

“The main thing is that we believe we will be able to send more students abroad,” she said. “We’ve been having to turn away qualified applicants in the past.”

As part of the new pricing policy, students will now receive round-trip airfare for their destinations – which include over 20 countries worldwide – a benefit that, according to Douthwaite, virtually no other university supplies.

Another main change to the study abroad pricing is an international study fee of $600 added on to the usual costs, which are equivalent to Notre Dame tuition, room, board and on-campus fees.

“It’s basically a way to even out the expenses of airfare around the world,” Douthwaite said of the international study fee. “There are places where it’s maybe less than $600 to fly, but there are also places where it’s at least three times $600 to fly.”

The Washington D.C. program is an exception to the fee, but airfare is not included in that study package.

The other notable change is the elimination of facilitated programs. In the past, some programs had been under the direction of other institutions, and did not always conform to Notre Dame budget pricing. The Santiago program, for example, had worked through the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, but now the program is better designed for Notre Dame students.

“With the changes we’ve been able to make some quality improvements to some of the programs,” Douthwaite said.

According to Douthwaite, the OIS hopes to send 20 more “full time equivalents” abroad as a result of the new policy. In other words, 20 more students would be able to spend a full academic year abroad, or 40 students would be able to spend one semester abroad. There will almost certainly be some mix between the two, making it impossible to foresee exactly how many more people will be able to go abroad as part of the new policy.

“Sending more students is our first priority,” Douthwaite said.

One difficulty the OIS combats each year is the lack of application balance for fall versus spring semester. The overwhelming number of requests to study in spring is a problem OIS is working to solve.

“If everyone applies to go in the spring we won’t be able to send more students abroad,” Douthwaite said. “We need to have consistency both semesters.”

Under the new policy, students will still receive Notre Dame credits and grades for courses they take abroad.

Sophomore Brett Wilps, who hopes to study in Rome next year, said he sees the new policy as encouraging.

“If they can enable more students to go abroad, that’s definitely a positive,” he said. “Obviously these programs are very popular so I’m glad to see that the University is supporting their growth.”

Wilps said the coverage of airfare more than makes up for the international study fee.

“Six-hundred dollars seems more than reasonable for round-trip tickets to Rome,” he said. “If prices were always like that I think I’d go on more vacations.”