President Dr. Ann Weaver Hart is so convinced that studying abroad is an invaluable experience for students, she and her husband, Randy, are willing to foot part of the bill.
In her March 22 inauguration speech, Hart announced she plans to establish a fund through the Office of International Programs to pay the cost for students to obtain a passport for the first time.
Already, about 10 students have ventured
to the Office of International Programs,
located in Tuttleman Learning Center,
inquiring about a free passport, which has added up to about $600 worth of benevolence
on Hart’s end.
“This heightened focus on engagement
through our disciplines must reach beyond our immediate community or nation,”
Hart said in her speech. “It must be international. Our students will be less prepared to excel and prosper.”
Since taking office, Hart has put Temple’s
expanding global presence at the top of her agenda. She even serves as chair-elect of the Commission on International Programs
for the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges.
“It’s part of being an educated person in the modern world,” Hart said in a telephone
interview. “As our lives and economy become more affected by the rest of the world, our ability to integrate is very important.”
As globalization moves at a rapid pace and companies become multi- and even transnational, studying abroad has become an attractive option for students.
Professor Sam Hodge, the department chair of Legal Studies in the Fox School of Business, thinks study-abroad program should be a requirement, as it is at other colleges. Hodge has taught courses at Temple’s Rome and Japan campuses during the past six years.
“We have such a patriarchal view of ourselves that seeing a different culture gives you an opportunity to learn about yourself,” he said.
Employers are increasingly looking for globally aware students to fill positions.
With academic programs in 13 different
countries, Temple is trying to keep up with that trend and is working on a study abroad program in Taiwan. Last year, 880 Temple students studied abroad, an 86 percent
increase since 2000.
The Temple Rome program is celebrating
its 40th anniversary this summer.Temple Japan, based in Tokyo, was established
25 years ago and is Japan’s largest and oldest foreign university and the first American school to be nationally recognized.
The campus offers 11 undergraduate degrees.
Students can also find opportunities through non-Temple affiliated programs that can be accredited toward their Temple degrees.
Jessi Clark, a senior English major, spent a year in Scotland through a scholarship
she won from a non-Temple affiliated program.
Clark, who spent a year sharing a house with students from 13 different countries, said the cultural experience was incredible.
“The only opportunity to do something
like this is in college,” she said. “It can only help an individual to be more culturally aware.”
But what about the expenses of studying
abroad? A six-credit summer program in Rome or Japan can cost as much as $4,400 for Pennsylvania residents. A student could earn six credits by taking summer classes on Main Campus for approximately $2,000 less.
“Go visit someone at the International Programs office immediately,” Hart said, referring to students concerned about the cost. “There are tons of scholarships available.”
The university offers 11 scholarships, some totaling as much as $5,000, and provides
a list of independent scholarships offered
worldwide. Most scholarships require good academic and disciplinary standing, as well as a cumulative 3.0 GPA.
Hart also noted that students don’t have to travel to the most expensive sites, such as Rome and Japan. A summer, four-credit program in Germany costs $2,315, while programs in Mexico and Brazil cost approximately $3,000.
But, in order to foster a global image, the university is aware that it must also encourage enrollment from students overseas. The administration is taking steps to make that possible.
According the Office of International Services, the total number of international students at Temple has risen by 25 percent during the past nine years. International students currently account for more than a third of both the undergraduate and graduate student populations. The university has undertaken numerous
initiatives, such as the creation of the International Education Roundtable, an advisory group that meets monthly and looks to build relationships between study-abroad students and international students.
In spite of U.S. immigration laws and the enactment of homeland security laws following the 9/11 attacks, Temple continues to be successful in providing educational opportunities for international students.
“The more information we can provide to the students and scholars,” said Martyn Miller, the director of OIS, “the easier it is for [them] to navigate the too often turbulent
waters of immigration.”
Nick Pipitone can be reached at email@example.com.