Study abroad merger will be ‘good for students’

The merged office will create a more seamless advising process, administrators said.

Students looking into study abroad have thousands of choices to make: where to find information, what to study and how to pay for it.

University students now have one less choice to make, as the University’s two study abroad offices – Global Campus Study Abroad and the International Service and Travel Center – merged this summer to form the Learning Abroad Center.

“It used to be you could go to one office and ask about working abroad and be told ‘we don’t handle that sort of thing,’ ” program director Martha Johnson said. “Whichever office you go to now, you can find someone who could answer your question.”

The merger, which the offices began planning in August 2002, became official July 1 and went remarkably smoothly, Johnson said.

The office will retain all the services it offered students in the past but will create a more seamless advising process, Johnson said.

The Center will also retain the three offices Global Campus and the International Service and Travel Center occupied before, but each will offer a specific set of services. One will be used for academic advising, another for travel, work and living abroad, and the third for administrative staff.

Johnson said the seamlessness of the office will differentiate it from most study abroad offices in the United States.

Johnson said she thought this was one of few universities in the country to offer so many services in one office.

Peer adviser Lacey Raak, a global studies senior who spent the summer in Mexico, said the office is working well for students.

“I think it will be good for the students,” Raak said. “Because they were separate before, a lot of students didn’t have access to work, volunteering and interning abroad. (The new office) will give students the option to do more abroad than just study.”

Although Johnson said the merger was not financially motivated, she said due to University budget cuts, the streamlined system came at an ideal time.

“The only bump is that our funding from the University got cut just like everyone else,” Johnson said. Because of the merger, no positions were cut from either office, she said.

Lynn Anderson, associate director for the Learning Abroad Center, said the merger will allow the offices to request less money in student services fees. This year the Office for International Programs – which oversees the Learning Abroad Center – provided temporary funding.

Students checking out the consolidated office Wednesday afternoon said they were impressed with the new system.

“I think it’s more convenient,” said Maria Holmquist, a human resource development sophomore looking into studying in Italy. “If you don’t know what you want to do, you don’t have to go to two offices.”

Resource center assistant Stephanie Erickson also said the merger benefited students.

“It’s good for students who want to study abroad,” Erickson said. “They have the resources here to continue learning after studying abroad.”

Johnson said the study abroad informational books – which Global Campus previously distributed – will now also offer information about working, interning and volunteering abroad.

“We’re really trying to help people think in a different way about studying abroad, and to look at all the options,” Johnson said.

The Learning Abroad Center began distributing the books Wednesday.