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OU College of International Studies creates fundraising campaign to address rising costs of studying abroad

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Farzaneh Hall (copy)

The College of International Studies in Farzaneh Hall on campus Nov. 19.

The price for studying abroad at OU may go up in the near future due to budget cuts last semester — an issue that the College of International Studies hopes to mitigate with new fundraising strategies.

According to an email obtained by The Daily that was sent to College of International Studies faculty on Friday, Nov. 15, Mitchell Smith, College of International Studies interim dean, said the initiative will build a base of small donors from education abroad and international student alumni and friends. Smith said they are not asking current students to donate. 

In another email sent by Smith to the college's faculty on Saturday, Nov. 16, Smith said “the new budgetary model imposed last year has made programs more expensive for students, with fewer scholarship dollars available.” 

“It was already reported last spring that there were, as part of the campus-wide budget cuts, there were cuts to the president's international travel fellowship funds available to students and to faculty,” Smith told The Daily. “So that's the reason why there are fewer funds available to subsidize study abroad. So, we are trying to fill some of that gap through this fundraising campaign.”

Smith said that study abroad costs are going up in part due to other reasons out of OU’s control as well, and one of the reasons is due to an increase in the price of providers, who help them plan their programs in certain study abroad locations. 

“In an ideal world, I would love for the college to have the funds available to offset those costs so that the costs to students don't go up,” Smith said. “And that's part of the idea of the campaign as well, is to lay a foundation of supporters who will hopefully support us on a regular annual basis to grow this pool of funds that are available to students.”

According to the Access campaign on Thousands Strong, which is OU’s crowdfunding platform, the campaign ends at 12:55 p.m. Dec. 20.

OU was ranked in the top 40 nationally of doctoral degree-granting institutions for students studying abroad in 2018, and according to the campaign, this is because of the “primary objective” of the college, which is to keep the cost of study abroad programs affordable and to provide scholarships.

“Nonetheless, some students cannot access the education abroad experience because scholarship funds are limited,” according to the campaign. A primary goal of the Access campaign is to "add to study abroad scholarship support to bring study abroad within financial reach for more students.”

At OU, there are 2,000 international students from more than 100 countries, according to the campaign. The Access campaign wants “to sustain that access to OU for international students by providing additional international student support funding.”

“And it's also a forward-looking campaign, you know, building a support for the future,” Smith said. “Our goal is to make education abroad accessible to as many students as possible, and the priorities for the funds that we raise in this campaign are going to go to students with the highest need.” 

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