In spite of economy, study abroad increases



By Erin Shea

More UK students are packing up and heading to a foreign destination, and they aren’t letting a lack of personal finances or the economy stop them.

The number of students that study abroad each year has increased by about 10 percent in the past four years, said David Bettez, interim director of International Affairs.  Almost 600 UK students went abroad in 2009, he said.

While students and their families may be experiencing some financial strain, Bettez said the university has actually been putting more resources toward the Education Abroad Department. Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) money, most UK scholarships and financial aid can all be applied to study abroad programs, Bettez said.

“Those who are intent on going abroad find a way to do so,” he said. “There are pockets of money around, you just have to look for it.”

Rebecca Street, a linguistics and anthropology senior, studied in China in the spring of 2008. Street said her trip was a more expensive package, but she received a scholarship of about $2,000 to help. Her program cost included room and board fees, school fees and food costs.

“UK has scholarships that are need-based and the advisers can help you figure out what to do, and what you are able to do,” Street said. “The opportunities are out there, you just have to search for it.”

Street said she has friends at UK having issues paying for tuition and living expenses here, so studying abroad does not seem like an option to them.

Because of apprehensions like this, Bettez said there is a need to dispel myths that studying abroad is not a realistic option for most students.

“Even if it costs more, isn’t it a wise investment for the future? How do you set yourself apart? Study abroad can do that,” Bettez said. “Figure out what resources you have available, check destinations and see which programs and areas work for you.”

The cost of studying abroad can be up to $25,000 per semester depending on the program, said Daxon Caudill, an education abroad adviser.

Caudill said between $50,000 and $80,000 is given out annually in scholarships for study abroad programs.

Students can attend an information session to help them figure out plans to study abroad. These sessions are held on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 to 4 p.m. in room 207 of Bradley Hall.