Letter to the Editor

Having all the facts

Alex Shoucair raises some valid points in the study abroad debate. Students must carefully consider cost and quality, and we want to make sure they have all the facts.

Mr. Shoucair rightly notes that GW – like American, Tufts, Georgetown and numerous other private universities – charges home tuition for study abroad. GW maintains programs with institutions overseas that have administrative, staffing, and other costs. When students travel abroad, so does most of their tuition. GW pays program fees and allows aid to transfer as well. There are few tenable solutions to the financial drain a major research institution like ours would suffer without fees to ensure that infrastructure, faculty, and other amenities continue while students travel.

GW provides tremendous freedom to students in choosing programs of study, but with it comes financial responsibility. Mr. Shoucair argues that others in his Beijing program paid less, but doesn’t say whether they were from state universities, were supported by large endowments or enrolled directly, without benefit of earned credit or home university support. A fair assessment requires understanding of what’s offered and who pays.

Mr. Shoucair claims that GW’s new pricing policy means “a few hundred more dollars for a few individuals.” In fact, were Mr. Shoucair to study in Beijing next spring, he’d pay a significant $1,893 less than he did under the old policy. The new policy also caps any cost increase in the more expensive programs.

Finally, Mr. Shoucair’s conclusion that GW’s study abroad program is the “least-worst option” ignores the inherent value of our competitively priced, soundly supported, and academically viable exchange programs with major universities overseas.

Study abroad is a costly enterprise, but one GW is committed to affording all students. The new pricing system is a significant – and earnest – step.

Donna Scarboro, associate vice president for international programs, and Rob Hallworth, director of study abroad

Correction appended
Sept. 17, 2009
In the editing process, the word “overseas” was mistakenly added before the phrase “while students travel” in the second paragraph.

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