Wall Street's crisis, with all its influence, does not seem to be preventing students from going abroad.
With rising flight prices - an 8.1-percent increase in the second quarter alone according to the Transportation Department - and the dollar's slide against currencies such as the euro and the pound, students have many things to consider before embarking on that four-month international trek.
Despite concern over the economic situation, there has been no significant change to the number of Penn students studying oversees.
The number of students going abroad peaked two years ago and has been static ever since, said director of Penn Abroad Geoffrey Gee.
Until then, the number of students studying abroad had risen for each of the past 25 years, sometimes even by as much as 10 percent.
"There's no clear evidence that it has to do with the economy," Gee said.
The population of students who are able to go abroad has "reached a plateau" considering that some programs have more flexibility than others, he said. Last year, 680 students chose to study abroad.
Tighter budgets aside, students still opt to go to the same countries, though they tend to be the more expensive options.
The United Kingdom, Spain and Australia have consistently been the most popular location for students. Over the past several years, China has also been gaining student interest.
London, easily the most popular destination, is also one of the most expensive locations.
Gee also cited the case of Barcelona, which is more popular than cheaper programs in places such as Argentina, which offers students the same language benefits and similar cultural environments.
Whereas some universities have seen spiked interest in places closer to home, such as Canada, only one student this year plans to study at McGill University, the first in many years. The student went not because of financial reasons but for a specific program offered there.
A program in Mexico even had to be suspended because not enough students showed interest.
Other universities, however, have reported drops in students going abroad, such as Ohio State University. The university sent 110 students abroad two years ago and only 70 last year.
Schools such as the University of Kansas are also restructuring some programs to keep costs down, cutting a seven-week program in Britain to four and a half.
Once abroad, most students incur expenses by traveling over breaks to neighboring cities and countries. With rising transportation costs and additional housing fees for such trips, money dries up fast.
Although some students may need to find loans to substitute work-study income and cover personal expenses, students eligible for loan-free packages generally have not had complications stopping them from going abroad, said Gee.
College junior Susan Qin said that of her friends who went abroad to such places as Oxford, Japan, Australia and Beijing, many said financial aid would cover expenses.
Only one case has been reported of a student who planned to go abroad, but due to financial problems at home, was unable to find sufficient funding, Gee said.
He also said there hasn't been an increase in applications for the government-sponsored Gillman scholarship, which helps students finance overseas studies.
Parents, who are generally involved with study abroad matters, tend to mention financial issues more than students, frequently contesting Penn's study abroad tuition policy, said Gee.
"I don't think the academic atmosphere has been affected as much by the economy," said Esha Kakkar, a second year Engineering graduate student, adding that as an international student, she is less drawn to study abroad programs than other students.Comments powered by Disqus
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