UISG voices opposition towards proposed study abroad fee

UISG has voiced their opposition towards a proposed $15 per semester fee for every student, which would be implemented by the UI Study Abroad.


Wyatt Dlouhy

The Old Capitol building is seen in 2018.

Jordan Prochnow, News Reporter

The University of Iowa Student Government has opposed a proposed fee that would be implemented by UI Study Abroad. The fee would mean an extra $15 per semester for each student, regardless whether the students study abroad or not.

Associate Provost Downing Thomas, the dean of International Programs, said 100 percent of the fee would be returned to students in the form of financial aid.

“With financial aid identified by students themselves as the single most significant obstacle to studying abroad, we feel that having more resources in the form of student financial aid will allow the UI to expand access to programs that help prepare students for their future lives and careers,” Thomas said in an email to The Daily Iowan. “In terms of access, we feel confident that from a curricular standpoint, with appropriate and coordinated advising, a meaningful study-abroad experience can meet the needs of undergraduates in any field of study.”

Thomas also said that the fee would boast study-abroad support by 66 percent. Currently, 16.4 percent of UI students study abroad, he said. Data from the department’s website show that 848 undergraduate students studied abroad during the 2016-17 school year.

UISG Sen. Jenna Pokorny wrote the resolution, saying only a small portion of students would benefit from the fee being implemented. Because of this, and a number of other reasons, she believes the fee is not in the best interest of students who are planning on studying abroad. 

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“There has been a huge generational divestment in the University of Iowa,” Pokorny said. “We’re struggling to pay our professors and keep our students at the university; study abroad is a low priority for me, and I worry that those $15 a semester, on top of hundreds of dollars in proposed tuition increases, would stop students from attending the University of Iowa.”

Pokorny said that after speaking to 27 of her peers, 18 of whom had studied abroad, 25 said the fee was unnecessary. Sixteen of the 18 who had studied abroad did not support the fee, citing concerns including funding and worries that advisers would be “stretched thin.”

Junior Allison Rowe, who studied abroad in Ireland during the summer of 2017, said she does not support the fee because she thinks it will limit opportunities for students.

“Study abroad is an amazing experience, but a lot of people are deterred because it is expensive,” Rowe said. “Although $30 isn’t a huge cost, and I would love to see the Study Abroad Program grow, it is just becoming a lost opportunity for students as costs keep going up.”

Sadie Wilson, a sophomore who will study abroad in the spring of 2019, said she supports the fee so that students can experience other cultures.

“Often, we can get so caught up in our own country that we fail to recognize others, and I think it is important to break away from this idea,” Wilson said. “The fee will help those who generally would not be able to have this experience see a whole different world. College is about growth, and studying in a different country is a huge growing experience that should be available to anyone regardless of their social class.”