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Many ways for Bruins to study abroad

By Joanne Hou

Nov. 19, 2007 10:27 p.m.

Students looking into studying abroad face many different programs and enrollment options, but their choices can lead to thousands of dollars in price difference.

The cost of study abroad can vary depending on whether the student enrolls through their home university, a foreign university or a private organization.

For UC students, going abroad through EAP programs may be cheaper than applying directly to the foreign university.

Bruce Hanna, marketing and communications director for UC-wide EAP, said the EAP office negotiates with foreign universities that are comparable in quality to UC schools to set up exchange programs that benefit both the UC and the foreign university and also lowers the cost for students.

“(The foreign) institution is interested in the UC because of our reputation worldwide. The (foreign) campus is interested in being able to collaborate with the UC ““ usually in the form of an exchange of students,” Hanna said.

Students who enroll through EAP pay amounts comparable to regular UC fees, Hanna said, adding that the financial aid students normally receive carries over and can cover the additional costs of going abroad.

For Emily Field, a third-year psychology student who said she plans to study in New Zealand in February, the EAP program is cheaper than direct enrollment at the foreign university by about $3,000.

But she is not able to go through the EAP program because it lasts a year and she could not spend that much time studying abroad.

The program fees charged by the EAP include costs of attending the program, part of regular UC fees, and certain mandatory insurance costs, according to the EAP Web site.

The EAP program is also convenient, since students only pay to the EAP and all the courses are already approved.

In the case of Kunal Kothari, fifth-year electrical and biomedical engineering student who enrolled directly to the University of Sydney without EAP, he had to pay his tuition and housing costs to many different parties.

“Administratively, the EAP is a lot simpler,” Kothari said. He added that he had to deal with a variety of administrative issues including the cancellation of the classes he needed.

Another public school, the University of Virginia also charges its students program fees that are close to their in-state tuition, which may be more or less than the cost of direct enrollment to the foreign university.

This has a lot to do with the cost of living in the location of the study abroad program and differences in currency values, said Rebecca Brown, director of UVA’s International Studies Office.

“Studying abroad has gotten expensive because of the weak dollar,” Brown said.

Many private schools, including Stanford and the University of San Diego, charge students studying abroad the exact same tuition as if they were still at their home school.

Some of these schools justify this pricing in that students who work toward degrees from the school should pay regular tuition of the school no matter where the units are earned.

“(Study abroad students) are getting (University of San Diego) degrees. Their grades transfer in; their units transfer in,” said Kira Mendez, director of International Studies Abroad at USD.

This means that even if the University of Cape Town charges $4,600 per semester, a student from USD would pay its regular semester tuition of $16,329 because the student is transferring grades and credits that build toward a degree from USD.

Whether at the UC or at these private schools, those who do not go through the school’s own program need to take a leave of absence and petition for units to transfer over.

It is also possible for students to get a study abroad experience by using a third-party organization that may or may not involve attending an actual university.

Anna Nabel, a third-year undeclared student, paid no more than $3,000 total for almost three months of study in Cairo.

She attended a language center there that offered an intensive three-month Arabic language program and received five hours a day of one-on-one tutoring five days a week.

Nabel said she did not use the EAP program in Cairo because it is only offered as a year-long program and she said she could not take so much time to study abroad.

But it is also possible to pay significantly more for a study abroad experience through third-party organizations that provide these opportunities to students.

The UC EAP office did a study of half of their top programs and found that 80 percent cost less than similar programs provided by third-party organizations.

One such organization is called Interstudy, a company that arranges study abroad opportunities for North American students going to Britain, Ireland and South Africa.

Interstudy charges roughly $8,000-$9,000 in tuition and fees for a semester at the University of Cape Town. The university has a listed semester tuition of $4,600. If the student goes through EAP, the sum comes to only $4,371.

The bottom line is the cost of studying abroad varies how the student enrolls for the program, the location of the program, and whether the student attends a public or private university. Each program is unique and there is no single way that is always cheaper than others.

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Joanne Hou
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