It’s easy to imagine that most BYU students participate in educational programs abroad. After all, “the world is our campus”—at least it’s been on the sign that has welcomed everyone to BYU since the 1960s—and becoming globally competent seems to be a shared goal. Most students have heard about programs open to anyone in any major that offer a semester or term abroad in places such as Paris, Madrid, Siena, or the BYU London Centre. More departments and faculty members than ever are creating major-specific programs, such as International Industrial Design Studies in Europe and China Student Teaching in Guangzhou. The value of the programs, cited by the thousands of students who have studied abroad, is impossible to ignore. And BYU’s top-twenty-five ranking from the Institute of International Education just about confirms the university’s international focus.
The numbers tell another side of the story. The fact that last year about 1,800 students participated in study abroad programs, internships, field schools, and direct enrollments in more than twenty-seven countries on 127 different faculty-directed programs is impressive. And yet nearly two-thirds of all BYU students don’t participate at all in an international study program.
“I really wanted to go on the Ecuador study abroad program, but I’m barely making ends meet with tuition and rent and everything. I’ve worked as many as four jobs during a semester. The gap between paying for school and a study abroad is several thousand dollars that I just don’t have without help.”
—Sydney Jensen, Linguistics