The Education Abroad Program may be forced to shutter study centers and eliminate services if proposed budget cuts are finalized.
EAP Campus Faculty Director Michael O’Connell said the potential blow to the program’s budget would radically change the face of the study abroad program. Going under the budget chopping block, O’Connell said, would mean accepting fewer students, dropping crucial services in many locations and cutting programs all together.
“I can see that some cutting is going to be necessary in the current budget, but a cut of this magnitude will change the character of EAP,” O’Connell said.
In addition to scrapping study abroad centers, the number of EAP staffers who accompany students to foreign countries may have to be reduced, O’Connell said. He said the staff members ensure that students stay safe and on-track during their travels and are a vital aspect of the program.
“Another key element that’s at risk are the UC faculty directors who look after students’ academic interests and their welfare abroad,” O’Connell said. “These are scheduled to be cut from the current 20 to a mere 6.”
Vanessa Vadas, a third-year global studies major, said she may begin looking at other study abroad agencies if the quality of her education abroad is threatened by a lack of proper funding.
“I feel like studying abroad is a very important part of college,” Vadas said. “I’m going to Brazil in the fall and the last thing I want to be worrying about is how this situation with EAP will effect my experience there.”
Despite such crippling side effects and avid dissent on behalf of faculty members, O’Connell said the University of California Office of the President seems set on slicing funding.
“The OP appears adamant that the cuts will take place, in spite of the fact that faculty, through their senate representatives, have spoken strongly against this,” O’Connell said. “This will force EAP into a deficit mode for the next three years, and it will be compelled to make unwelcome cuts.”
UCSB has an especially large interest in keeping the EAP afloat, O’Connell said, since the campus is the lead recruiter for the program. Last year, he said, UCSB sent more students abroad than any other UC campus.
“UCSB has the largest number of students studying abroad – around 900 last year – so our stake in this is huge,” O’Connell said. “Our chancellor and our [Executive Vice Chancellor] Gene Lucas both understand this, and have been supportive of EAP. But, it’s a system-wide program and requires support from the system wide administration.”
Over the last 46 years, EAP has sent 63,000 students across the globe. With so many students utilizing EAP every year, O’Connell said, it’s hard to understand why UCOP sees the program as a good candidate for shaving costs.
“I’m trying to be optimistic, but there’s really very little understanding of EAP and study abroad at the Office of the President,” O’Connell said. “EAP in fact is really like a separate college of the University — there are more students [at UCSB] in EAP [alone] than at Merced. A lot of faculty feel this is where the University should be investing its resources.”