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Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Study abroad programs still offered in spite of budget deficit

Meredith McCord
Center for Global Exploration

Despite the deficit, The Department of Global Explorations continues offering several study abroad opportunities to students.

While some study abroad opportunities are not fulfilled, it is not the deficit leading to cuts; rather, it can depend on the number of students who choose to embark on a trip, the demand for which has increased following its decline since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hallie Vavrus, a leadership and higher education graduate student, said there are different categories of study abroad programs offered at BW, including semester-long programs, full-year programs, summer programs and faculty-led programs.

There is a challenge with an insufficient number of students enrolling in some programs. Vavrus said that for each program that the department of Global Exploration offers, they like to have 20 to 23 students enrolled in that specific program.

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“We are having a lack of students applying to some programs. So if we have under a certain number of students, [then] the program won’t go through, so that’s been a problem and then we have to cut off the program altogether,” Vavrus said.

Vavrus said that among other reasons, one concern for students is the financial constraints. “That [financial aid] is another thing that students sometimes get hesitant on with studying abroad, and that’s a real problem, especially with inflation going on right now and flights being so pricey,” Vavrus said.

Another contributing factor is the aftereffects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Christie Shrefler, director of the Center of Global Exploration, said their office reported that before the pandemic, around 40 percent of full-time undergraduate students studied abroad during their time at BW, but currently, only 20 percent of students study abroad. Nonetheless, Shrefler said that since the drop from the pandemic, the percentage of students taking a study abroad opportunity has been steadily on the rise.

“To put that in context, typically nationally only 10 percent of students study abroad, so we are minimally double the national average, and we are hoping to be much more than that, but it’s been a slow process since COVID-19,” Shrefler said.

Despite potential financial concerns, there are financial aid opportunities available to students who wish to study abroad.

“The good thing about studying abroad too is that all of your BW expenses that you would normally pay for a semester are the same price as if you were to study somewhere else,” Vavrus said.

Even though these opportunities exist, there are times when there will be additional expenses that are not covered by a student’s financial aid.

“If this is the case, there is sometimes additional financial aid available through our financial aid department, there’s a study abroad grant, we also have some endowed scholarships through our
alums who donate funding,” Shrefler said.

Vavrus said that with these additional sources of funding, the Center for Global Exploration tries to encourage students to engage in the opportunity.

“We try to comfort students the best that we can when it comes to finances because there is just a plethora of opportunities for financial aid,” Vavrus said.

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