Staff Editorial: Drop the act

The University’s rationale to stop accepting academic credit from unaffiliated study abroad programs is to ensure the “integrity and reputation of the GW degree.” What the administration does not tell students is that the main reason for the October change is purely financial – this is a way to charge students GW tuition even when they are out of the country.

It is time for GW and the Office of Study Abroad to come clean. No more stories that “academic integrity” is the only reason for the change. When students chose unaffiliated programs in the past, GW would lose out on tuition dollars. For example, the CIEE study abroad program to Beijing lists its cost as $7,600 a semester, but being an affiliated program, GW charges students $13,715 for the same exact program. Where are the extra $6,115 going?

Study Abroad officials have said this extra money fee goes to maintain the University for the students when they come back and for administrative costs. This is just wrong. Students should not pay GW over $6,000 when they are not using any GW facilities, professors or
services.

We understand GW’s desire to ensure the academic quality of programs its students attend, but there is no way GW can contend all of the nearly 4,500 study abroad programs cut were not up to par with University standards. Officials advertise their most recent addition to the affiliated program list as a big increase. But from 5,000 programs allowed before October to the 213 currently allowed, it is actually a dramatic decrease. This amounts to a callus restriction of the GW students’ academic freedom, something the University has recently arguedvehemently for in court.

GW should return to its previous study abroad system, in which professors evaluate the quality of study abroad programs on a case by case basis and students are not financially penalized for learning at legitimate institutions other than this University.

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