September 2007

Judge Advice on Its Results

September 2007 Cover

Following on from his highly publicized investigation into student loans, New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has opened an inquiry into the relationship between college officials and organizations specializing in study abroad (see News, page 10).

Obviously, international education advisors have a duty to offer their students what they believe to be the best available study abroad options and their recommendations should not be influenced by incentives offered to them personally or to their colleges. Advisors have a wealth of resources to assist them including publications such as this, associations, and accreditation bodies. However, in order to be in a position to provide students with the best advice, advisors need to visit study abroad destinations to evaluate everything from the quality of the tuition to the accommodations provided, as well as to “get a feel” for the area of the town or city. They need to know it is not only safe for their students but will suit their personalities. Areas and schools can change in a few years, so advisors cannot rely on one inspection several years ago.

Now, this amount of hands-on research is very expensive, and were the total costs to be met by colleges and universities, the result would be a considerable increase in the cost of study abroad programs, so advisors’ trips are subsidized by companies specializing on study abroad, foreign governments, and educational institutions in a similar way to the trips of travel agents and travel writers. The hosts on these trips will do all they can to give their guests the best impressions, but it is up to the advisors to see through the hospitality and make their own decisions based upon the best interests of their students.

The alternative is to increase the cost of study abroad at a time when we are trying to make it more accessible for all students with the passage of the Paul Simon Study Abroad Act.

Yale this year became the first major university to require that all its MBA students study abroad. Next fall, a new Stanford University curriculum will require students to have a global experience. Mindful of the global economy, Yale and other business schools are placing more emphasis on studying abroad.

“I think it’s something desired by the students and by the companies,” said Douglas Viehland, executive director of the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs, a business education accreditation organization.
This investigation and the surrounding publicity cannot be allowed to derail the Paul Simon Act; the passage of which will open up the opportunity of study abroad to millions of students beyond the Ivy League élite.

NAFSA (the Association of International Educators) has moved swiftly to establish a task force to examine institutional management issues in study abroad and recommend guidelines in the area, which will help to allay accusations of complacency. And, we all need to take a deep breath before jumping to conclusions.

International education advisors need to be judged by the success of the programs they manage. Incentives offered must be scrutinized but there cannot be a presumption that advisors will be swayed by the financers of their research trips. In the end, it is the students who must decide if their time and money was well spent.


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Lorraine D’Ambruoso contends that advocacy is the responsibility of every professional educator

Back to School Statistics
A selection of statistics about the nation’s schools from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences

It’s How You Ask That Counts
Amy H. Greene and Glennon Doyle Melton explain how concentrating on teaching the language of testing can dramatically improve results for English language learners

Technology Trends in Assessment
Mostafa Mehrabani, president of McGraw-Hill Assessment and Reporting, presents his perspective on the effect of technology on classroom assessment

Becoming Environmentally Aware
Robert O’Dowd reveals the secrets behind the creation of a Virtual Learning Environment for your language class

Spanish on the Fly
Adrenaline levels rise as Hannah Zeiler explores Costa Rican and Guatemalan schools for the more adventurous Spanish language learners

Last Writes
Richard Lederer with more gimmicks with limericks