By Sylvia Shipman, Chattanooga, Tenn.— The reorganization and ensuing budget cuts in the international programs office have hurt its staff and students by providing fewer opportunities to study abroad.
Kristen Labs, the assistant director of the international programs office, provides insight into the situation.
“We combined study abroad and exchange office, English as a second language, and international student services,” said Labs.
Prior to their combining, these three offices operated separately and now they all share the same budget. Once they started to share a budget, it dwindled quickly. Sadly, the international programs office had to let go one of its newest members, Florence Broomfield.
Many students mourn her leaving, including Meshia Seay, who studied abroad in Australia last semester.
“She was so helpful and nice,” the sophomore said.
Another student, Melanie Rush, was shocked when she heard the news. She was in the process of working with Broomfield to study abroad and now is unsure of the future of her
According to Labs, they just couldn’t afford to keep her on anymore. They also could not afford to keep doing so many exchange programs, where a student from an international university switches places with a student from UTC for a semester. It’s much cheaper than directly going to another university to study; through the exchange program, a UTC student pays UTC tuition. Through the direct program, you pay the out-of-state tuition.
“The value and advantage of [exchange programs] is 200 programs… all for the same price as here,” Labs said.
Many students dream of studying abroad but that dream might not be available to those in financial need. Courtney Sharp, a sophomore, had her sights set on an exchange program in England. Her program was cut, and only a few exchange programs remain.
“I think I won’t be able to study abroad,” Sharp said. “Now I won’t be able to afford it.”
“We don’t want students to think that there is no more exchange,” Labs said. She added that they just might need to be a little more financially flexible.
“Part of my job as an adviser is to seek out programs and find the tools that highlight the most affordable programs that could be comparable to [exchange].”
Halley Talley, a junior, recommends a direct program over exchange.
“It’s a little bit more expensive but it’s an easier process,” she said. “My friends who did the exchange program had to worry about things at their home university and exchange provided a meal card, which didn’t work until three to four weeks into their stay abroad.”
She also mentioned that it’s easier to do direct because you don’t have to wait for a student to want to come here.
“Study abroad and exchange is still a focus here at UTC, and it’s something that the administration does want to encourage,” Labs added. “With a lot of the changes, they are trying to find the best way to do that.”