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The Greyhound

Phase II update: changes on the horizon for study abroad programs

More than 60 percent of Loyola undergraduate students participate in some kind of study abroad program, making them an important element of the ‘Loyola experience’ and financially significant for the New Way of Proceeding initiative. To continue The Greyhound’s series, this week we look at two different recommendations that have been made in Phase II: reviewing each study abroad program to ensure it has a balance of revenue and expenses, and opening certain programs to non-Loyola students.

The first recommendation, which the working group reviewing study abroad says could save the University up to $150,000 each year, involves evaluating the cost/revenue model of each Loyola study abroad program annually and closing or moving those which go into deficit. According to Dr. Steven Fowl, theology professor and co-chair of the Phase II committee, the working group has already initiated an evaluation for this year in conjunction with Dr. Martha Wharton, assistant vice president for academic affairs and diversity, and Dr. Andre Colombat, dean of International Programs, both of whom have been very important in discussions of where changes can be made.

Fowl said that the goal of the group is to ensure an excellent experience for students that is also fiscally responsible for the University. “Nobody wants to limit the intellectual goods of the study abroad experience. We just need to make sure that we are being responsible,” he said.

The main way in which deficit programs may be handled is to move them to comparable universities in their particular countries that are not as expensive. International Programs has already initiated one such change, moving the Melbourne, Australia, program from Monash University to La Trobe University starting next fall.

“We don’t want fewer programs. I think it is very important for the University that roughly half the junior class can go abroad. It’s a huge benefit to them and to us,” Fowl said. In fact, Loyola ranked no. 1 in the nation among master’s institutions that have the most students who study abroad in one-semester programs in both 2011 and 2012, according to the Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. Fowl said, “The goal is to preserve programs, as long as that doesn’t involve going to deficit.”

The working group wants to avoid balancing the programs as a whole—using the revenue of some to cover the deficit of others, because of the precarious financial position into which that policy puts the office when profits vary from year to year.

The second recommendation—bringing in non-Loyola students—grows out of a search for ways to grow revenue. The working group suggested opening the Newcastle, Leuven and Bangkok programs, where they already “have empty beds that we can fill,” Fowl said. If approved, these programs would most likely operate the way Loyola’s affiliate study-abroad programs work now; Loyola would partner with other schools to send their students to our already-established program.

Newcastle would likely operate as a pilot program, according to Fowl, although choosing locations and implementing any of these changes depends on Fr. Linnane’s approval and then are at International Programs and Dr. Wharton’s discretion.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this recommendation is setting a “competitive” tuition rate in order to entice non-Loyola students. This essentially means that non-Loyola students could be charged a reduced tuition rate compared to Loyola students in order to get them to enroll in the programs. Fowl said that he is not sure how suggestion would be worked out, or how the reduced rate would be determined, but acknowledged that Loyola’s high tuition could be a deterrent. According to the official recommendation, this could generate $8,000-$10,000 per student, and up to $200,000 per year once it was fully operational. Those numbers do not figure in any additional staff required by significant growth of programs. “We would need to do this carefully and gradually. We wouldn’t want to close out a Loyola student to take a Syracuse student, for instance,” Fowl said. “Dr. Colombat has sense of how to grow these programs without diminishing their quality.”

Fowl does not think that these recommendations will have any dramatic affect on students. “In terms of experience, I think most students won’t notice much of a difference from year to year,” Fowl said. He added that these moves really just formalize changes that International Programs has been moving toward already.

Contributing reporting by Editor in Chief Jenn Ruckel

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Phase II update: changes on the horizon for study abroad programs