Barrett cuts study-abroad scholarships

Almost $100,000 in aid axed because of decreased state funding

Study Abroad Director Dr. Diane Facinelli poses for a picture in front of The Barret Honors College Irish Hall Thursday. (Chaunte Johnson / The State Press)
Published On:
Thursday, November 20, 2008
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Students and staff at Barrett, the Honors College, said cuts to international-study scholarships are dissuading students from studying abroad, which the college promotes as an essential learning experience.

Last year, Barrett offered $99,250 in study-abroad scholarships to its students, said Sarah Berguetski, executive assistant to honors Dean Mark Jacobs.

A few months ago, state budget cuts to the University forced the honors college to cancel funding for their study abroad programs.

Berguetski added that Jacobs believes the college won't be able to offer the scholarships next year either.

Enrollment for the Barrett summer-abroad programs began last week. While spots are filling up, some students cannot afford the program without the scholarships.

Diane Facinelli, an honors professor and director of the London, Dublin and Edinburgh study-abroad program, said scholarships are not the only factor challenging the study-abroad program. This year Barrett is also offering more summer abroad programs, meaning more spots to fill with no scholarship money.

“There is no question that not having Barrett study-abroad scholarships has discouraged people from registering, but it's hard to argue that it has hurt the study-abroad programs significantly more than the fact that we are offering more programs this year than ever before,” Facinelli said.

The honors college will offer five summer study-abroad programs this year. In the past, the college only offered four per summer, Facinelli said. This year, at least 170 students need to sign up for the programs for them to be viable. That's 25 more students than last year.

Facinelli said Barrett should re-evaluate its study-abroad program if they continue offering no scholarships.

“It's a tough combination this year of a bleak economy, maybe too many competing programs and no Barrett scholarships,” Facinelli said.

Emily Reynolds, the Barrett Honors College Council's fee-committee chair, said the study-abroad scholarship cuts are regrettable but necessary.

“Arizona's recession meant cutbacks across the board, and Barrett had to find funds somewhere to repay the state,” Reynolds said. “[The scholarships] serviced only a small portion of the Barrett student body, whereas other items on the budget benefited the entire honors population.”

Reynolds said the scholarship cuts prevented the school from having to lay off members of the faculty and staff, which the administration hopes to avoid.

As a student, Reynolds, an English literature sophomore, said she understands how detrimental these scholarships cuts will be to students who relied on them to study abroad.

“I strongly believe that Barrett should re-institute the scholarships,” Reynolds said. “The scholarships made these amazing study-abroad opportunities accessible to a wider range of students, and by cutting them, Barrett administration has reduced the population of students who can afford them to middle- and upper-class students, which is extremely unfortunate.”

There are other ways students can finance study-abroad trips, Reynolds said. ASU's Study Abroad Office offers need- and merit-based scholarships, as do other organizations outside the University.

Nursing sophomore Bethany Blankenship said she wishes cost was not an issue so that she could go on the London, Dublin and Edinburgh program this summer. But she said that without some scholarship money, there is no way she can afford the program.

“Now I'm not sure if I will ever get to study abroad,” Blankenship said.

Blankenship said she has been hit hard by the state's budget cuts as both the nursing school and Barrett were forced to make major cuts.

“I am upset that it has to happen because there are definitely other things that could be cut,” she said.

David Pickus, an honors professor who directs Barrett's China program, said that studying abroad is one of the most important things students can do during their college careers.

“We certainly think that study abroad is something that should be offered, and we want to expand upon it,” Pickus said. “We really would like it if every student studied away.”

Pickus said he hopes students weigh the benefits of studying abroad before they discount the opportunity because of costs.

"We would like to discourage people from only considering costs when they think about [studying abroad],” Pickus said. “Cost is important, but it's not the only thing to consider.”

Reach the reporter at lauren.gambino@asu.edu.