Study abroad referendum important as well

While the University of Illinois student elections held the last week of February on the Urbana-Champaign campus received a good deal of press because of the non-binding resolution concerning the status of Chief Illiniwek, the results of another very important ballot question have not received the same attention. The students voted to tax themselves $5 a semester to provide additional study abroad scholarships to their peers. The Study Abroad measure passed by a vote of 6,347 to 2,992. The study abroad fee is refundable for any student choosing not to participate.

The new study abroad fee is expected to generate some $300,000 a year and will be used to create new scholarship awards.

U of I students should be saluted for their generosity, which will enable a good number of new students to enlarge their world views and expand their cultural horizons. Currently, the U of I ranks fifth in the nation in terms of the number of undergraduates who study abroad. In 2006-2007, the latest year for which statistics have been compiled, approximately 2,000 U of I undergraduates studied abroad. The university continues to invest in creating new study abroad opportunities. Chancellor Richard Herman has challenged the campus to double the number of students who study abroad within the next five years and has said he is committed to eventually making study abroad opportunities available to U of I undergraduates, regardless of financial status.

Such a goal is highly desirable not only for U of I undergraduates themselves but as a “giant step” toward fostering world peace and understanding, one student at a time.

William I. Brustein

Associate Provost for

International Affairs