Fordham Denies Economy’s Impact On Study Abroad Enrollment


Despite the struggling economy, the study abroad program has seen an increase in interest. (Angelica Garza/The Observer)

Published: December 10, 2009

Despite the struggling economy, the international and study abroad programs have not seen a decrease in applications and enrollment and are not at a risk of being cut, said Ronald Méndez-Clark, the programs director.

“Yes and no,” Méndez-Clark responded to whether the study abroad program is hurting. “Interest in study abroad remains high and we have managed to maintain all of our outreach initiatives,” Méndez-Clark said. “There is a hiring freeze and we are monitoring very closely all of our office’s expenses.”

Méndez-Clark said that there are no particular programs in danger of being cut, “But as we normally do with faculty-led courses abroad, we will only offer a course once the minimum number of participants have made a firm commitment.”

“The consensus on the field is that in institutions where study abroad is conceived as an ‘add on,’ programs are in danger. On the other hand, at institutions where study abroad is viewed as an integral part of eligible students’ education, study abroad is quite safe. Fordham belongs to the second group of institutions,” Méndez-Clark said.

Aleksandra Radyck, Fordham College at Lincolnc Center (FCLC) ’10, said, “I know friends who wanted to go to London or Paris, the places that are more expensive, but instead ended  up going to South Africa or Asia, where it was cheaper, financially.”

Radyck, who participated in the 2008 summer abroad Switzerland program and an internship abroad in Ireland the following year, said, “My times there were great opportunities to really become independent in ways you can’t in America, especially living in the city.”

“Attendance at this fall’s fair was high and the number of students visiting our offices to research their study abroad options has not decreased; it has, in fact, increased,” Méndez-Clark said. “Inquiries about finances however have increased and these have come far earlier in the application cycle than in the past.” In response, Méndez-Clark said, Some study abroad programs have increased their scholarship funds.

Rafael Lamas, associate professor of Spanish language and literature, is an instructor for the Fordham University in Granada, Spain program, and said that it “is still growing.”

He said, “The program offers a good deal for students and, despite the U.S. economy, Spain remains a cheap country.” Lamas also said that the enrollment for Granada seems to be increasing and continues to grow.

Méndez-Clark said that International Study Abroad Program has been promoting programs earlier than in the past, but not only because of the economy.  “We believe decisions about studying abroad require research and more than one conversation and therefore the earlier we get to see students the better on all fronts, including finances,” he said.

Fannie Wu, FCLC ’12, said, “I will definitely study abroad, even with the economy’s shape, because it’s all a part of the college experience.” She said that, being a commuter and a New York City resident for more than 13 years, “studying abroad is almost like an alternative to dorming on campus.”  Financially, Wu said that even with the economy’s shape, she wouldn’t hesitate to take out loans if she had to.

“I don’t think money will have a big effect on whether I would study abroad or not because the school has been very fair to me in terms of financial aid,” Wu said. “Studying abroad will all pay off in the end, in terms of your college experience and your resume.”