KANE: Study abroad: why do we pay more for what costs less?

Jonas Kane

Studying abroad can be one of the most eye-opening and enlightening experiences a student can have. It offers an opportunity to break out of the Villanova bubble, allowing students to learn in and out of the classroom in a foreign environment. From personal experience, choosing to go to Cape Town last semester is easily one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.

While I have nothing but praise for the concept of studying abroad and for the insightful information and help that everyone in the Office of International Studies provides to students, I do, nonetheless, question the fairness of the school’s tuition policy, which has been in place since 2001.

The policy – which can be accessed on the OIS section of Villanova’s Website – states that “students participating in overseas education programs pay the standard Villanova tuition regardless of the overseas location.” This excludes the cost of room and board and flight tickets.

The next two sections state the alleged benefits of this policy: that Villanova will generally cover the cost of tuition if it is higher abroad than at Villanova, that financial aid transfers for the semester, that students remain full-time and “on the books” at Villanova and that credits directly transfer and count as regular Villanova courses.

All of this sounds good on the surface, and certainly the last three parts of this list are helpful to students studying internationally. Yet none of these really have anything to do with students having to pay full-freight Villanova tuition.

That leaves students with the first element in terms of comparison: ask any student who has studied abroad and you would be hard pressed to find one who went to a school that costs more money than Villanova does.

The fact is, going to school at a foreign university is almost always cheaper. So it comes across as a little disingenuous when the University offers to split the difference, when it is actually charging students extra tuition, not counting the fact that students additionally have to pay for housing, food, transportation and any other costs that naturally come from living abroad.

And though Villanova does offer a number of scholarships for students studying outside the country, it still does not make sense that students should be forced to pay university funding for a university that they are not attending that semester.

This is the key point: students studying abroad are not attending Villanova during the time they are away. While they might be receiving Villanova credit, they are not, in fact, receiving a Villanova education.

In most cases, they are receiving an education that is just as good. But it isn’t the same thing.

Students go abroad because they want to receive a different perspective on learning that they cannot obtain from staying at Villanova all four years. They want to be able to have cross-cultural interactions, to be able to live in a different part of the world and to discover more about life in general.

The benefits of going abroad ultimately depend on the individual. But to the best of its ability, OIS structures programs so that students can have a non-American education. It requires students to study at non-U.S. universities, to learn from foreign instructors and to live in housing integrated within the country.

While the classes being taken are similar to ones offered at Villanova, they are not being taken here and are not being taught by Villanova instructors. When it comes to how much money is being paid, this is a big difference.

It’s great that Villanova has seen such an increase in participation for study abroad over the past few years, and I would never discourage anyone from taking a sojourn overseas for one or two semesters. Villanova, however, should reconsider its tuition policy so that students aren’t forced to pay through the roof to have an alternate education.

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Jonas Kane is a senior English and political

science major from Harrisburg, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected]