I hadn’t heard about these cuts, so i’m not that up-to-date, but it would be a tragedy if it were true. I personally studied in Asia, and I wouldn’t change that decision for a minute. But if your interests lie in EU studies or European interests, these cuts might impact you. Especially if you need the financial aid.**DB
The Wrong Pivot to Asia
Don’t discount the importance of studying in Europe as well as Asia.
First lady Michelle Obama recently spoke in China about the importance of studying abroad. Unfortunately, the Obama administration has decided that providing opportunities involving Asia, Africa and Latin America must be achieved at the expense of Americans studying in Europe.
President Obama’s budget proposal will drastically cut the Fulbright program, direct its remaining resources away from Europe, and totally eliminate funding for the George J. Mitchell Scholarship program for study on the island of Ireland (which is operated by the U.S.-Ireland Alliance, of which I am the president). State Department officials have repeatedly told us that they are deprioritizing Europe.
It is a mistake to eliminate opportunities to study in Europe. While the cultural differences may be less dramatic in Ireland than in China, they exist nonetheless and learning to navigate even subtle differences is a necessary skill as we work with our European allies on many fronts.
While getting Americans to study in countries all over the world is desirable, it is also important to consider demand. It is not surprising that many students do not choose to study in a country where they can’t speak the language. When President Obama visited China in 2009, he pledged that there would be 100,000 Americans studying there in four years. During the first lady’s recent visit, the White House informed journalists that 20,000 Americans study in China every year. But numbers from the Institute of International Education suggest that figure is rounded up generously. In the four years since the president made that promise, the number of Americans studying there has gone from 13,674 to 14,887. Even if the numbers continue to grow exponentially, at that rate it will take more than 60 years to reach 100,000.
Mrs. Obama said in China that it never occurred to her to study abroad. She spoke of coming from a working class family where study abroad is thought of as something for children from families with wealth, if it is thought of at all. By decreasing the opportunities to study in English-speaking countries and countries like France, Spain and Germany – where there is some chance students from rural America have learned the language – the administration will inadvertently lose the very diversity of students it hopes to attract to study abroad.
I am the first in my family to graduate from college. I was also the recipient of a Rotary Scholarship, which allowed me to study at McGill University in Montreal. Canada was a ‘gateway’ country for me. After graduate school, I worked with Sen. Ted Kennedy for more than a decade and became his foreign policy adviser, responsible for, among other things, Canada. But studying in Canada didn’t limit me to that country. I was involved in a range of things from getting Refuseniks out of the former Soviet Union, to instituting sanctions against Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in the aftermath of bombing of Pan Am 103, to bringing free and fair elections to Guyana. My involvement in the Northern Ireland peace process led me to create a nonprofit organization and the George J. Mitchell Scholarship program. . . . .