The University of Iowa

In the news: Council of Deans recommend a plan to raise money for study abroad scholarships

October 1st, 2018

By Mastura Ibnat, news reporter for The Daily Iowan

Published on September 25, 2018


Around a year and a half ago, a discussion between the Council of Deans and the University of Iowa provost prompted the creation of a group that would recommend an approach to boost study-abroad numbers.

Deans Downing Thomas of International Programs, Daniel Clay of the College of Education, and Sarah Gardial of the Tippie College of Business have spearheaded the initiative.

According to statistics from the UI International Programs website, 1,242 students studied abroad during the 2016-17 academic year.

“We came up with the recommendation that we need a three-pronged approach,” Thomas said.

The three “prongs” include a fee to provide an incentive for students to get back a $15 study-abroad fee by actually studying abroad, an emphasis on philanthropy, and better communication opportunities through advising and dispelling common misconceptions about study abroad, Thomas said.

For example, students believe studying abroad disrupts their education, sets them back, and forces them to graduate later, he said.

As of now, the proposed fee is $15 per semester for all undergraduate students. Thomas said the fee is unlike any other, because all revenues generated are guaranteed to go back to students.

“For example, you’ve got a technology fee, you’ve got a rec fee — yes, they definitely benefit students, but it goes to infrastructure and personnel in some cases,” he said. “This fee would not go to those things; it would go back to students 100 percent.”

Thomas foresees the fee significantly increasing opportunities for students to study abroad.

“Looking at the number of scholarships we have currently through private donations and what this would add to that pool, we would increase the dollars available for study abroad by 77 percent,” he said.