Office of Study Abroad must grant students more freedom

Kevin Young, Staff Reporter

The following is an opinion article and opinion articles do not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.

Tulane University is consistently referred to as one of the best universities in the United States and in the world by publications like The Princeton Review. Students from all across the United States and the world compete for admission. Despite Tulane’s global reputation, the university’s study abroad policies limit students’ access to intellectually and culturally stimulating study abroad programs. 

According to Office of Study Abroad policies listed on the website, students are generally prohibited from studying abroad in countries where they do not possess language competency. Additionally, OSA’s regulations make it arduous to study abroad with programs that do not partner with Tulane. These policies restrict students’ intellectual freedom when studying abroad. The OSA must grant Tulane students more freedom in their study abroad options.

The policy requiring students to speak the host country’s language before studying there is of questionable merit. These languages may not be offered consecutively throughout each semester and these requirements are outside the program’s restrictions. For instance, OSA requires students applying to the Council on International Education Exchange’s Jordan: Language & Culture program to have basic proficiency in Arabic in order to participate in the program. The program itself, however, does not require students to have any form of proficiency in Arabic to participate in the program and even offers Arabic courses for beginners. 

Furthermore, the practice of requiring Tulane students to speak the language before they can study abroad is not commonplace at other universities. At New York University, for example, students can study in Abu Dhabi, Shanghai, Paris and other locations without speaking the host country’s language proficiently. Requiring students to be proficient in the language of the host country before they study abroad restricts their ability to engage with new cultures and gain new insights.

Partnerships between OSA and non-Tulane affiliated programs must be improved. Currently, students must undergo a rigorous application process to apply to an non-affiliated program, which requires an essay, a detailed research plan centered in the student’s academic field and an A- or higher GPA. The high GPA requirement and difficult application process limits the opportunity for students to better their education.

Tulane also has a very limited scope of study abroad options outside of Europe. The only Middle Eastern countries students can study in on Tulane-affiliated study abroad programs, for example, are Israel and Jordan. If a student would like to study in countries that do not have Tulane-affiliated programs, such as Vietnam, United Arab Emirates, Canada or Liechtenstein, OSA requires that the student complete the Independent Scholar Option application process.

Tulane’s OSA needs to give students enough freedom to make their own study abroad decisions. OSA should loosen its language requirement restrictions and be more flexible in allowing Tulane students to study abroad with non Tulane-partnered programs.

Kevin Young is a sophomore in the Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached for comment at [email protected]