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Student Senate proposes low-cost, high-impact study abroad option for UWRF

Falcon News Service

February 10, 2016

UW-River Falls Student Senate has proposed a low-cost, high-impact study abroad option to increase the amount of students participating in international education and to help move the campus move toward becoming a more globalized institution.

The new low-cost study abroad option would include expanding the current study abroad program to send students to locations such as Toronto, Quebec, Montreal and islands in the Caribbean. The proposal is part of the Student Senate’s Academic Priorities recommendation approved Feb. 2.

But according to Roderick Babilius, the student services chair for the Student Senate, the proposal could take up to four years until it is implemented and available for students.

“This is something that is just in the infant stage,” Babilius said.

“The low-cost, high-impact study abroad option fits in very well with this campus because we have a lot of first generational students on this campus and a lot of them work a lot of hours and don’t have a lot of funding from home because they are first generational students,” he added.

The current study abroad program offers international education options to places such as Scotland, China, Europe and several other locations around the globe. Between the summer of 2014 and spring 2015, 477 students from UWRF participated in the study abroad program, according to Katrina Larsen, interim assistant vice chancellor for international education.

“Well, we already have a number of programs that go to places in Central America, so we have Costa Rica, we went to Nicaragua this year, we go to Belize, we are setting up some places in Mexico,” Larsen said.

Between summer 2014 and spring of 2015, 37 students participated in the Belize study adventure, while 16 participated in the Costa Rica study abroad trip, showing that there is interest in programs based in the Western Hemisphere.

At least one student agrees that making study abroad more affordable and more available is important. UWRF senior Tyler Foote, who is majoring in agricultural education, traveled to both China and Japan and said he believes that studying abroad is important.

“Those low-cost experiences are important for students,” he said. “Canada, even though it is in North America, it is a different culture. It’s about getting out and learning about new places, so I think that would be super important.”

Creating a study abroad option to Canada and the Caribbean will have to go through both the Faculty Senate as well as Student Senate plus will require more funding from students.

Also, a curriculum with other universities in Canada and the Caribbean would have to be set up.

The priorities will officially be introduced to Faculty Senate to review within the next two weeks.