Friday, February 1, 2008

Cuomo: Friend or Foe?

Yesterday, the Hatchet reported that study abroad programs at 15 universities are being investigated for allegedly accepting free travel or funding from study abroad providers in exchange for exclusive marketing privileges. Although the publication reports that GW is not one of the institutions, three programs it affiliates with are at the center of the controversey:

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo subpoenaed study abroad providers, saying that perks provided to universities by study abroad companies influence the decisions of students to use certain providers.

The three programs still under investigation are affiliated with GW: the Institute for Study Abroad at Butler University, the Center for Education Abroad at Arcadia University and the Institute for the International Education of Students.

This scenario seems all too reminenscent of last year's revelations that financial aid adminstrators at many of America's leading universities were in bed with companies that lend students tuition money. Then too, New York Attorney General Cuomo was the lead aggresor, as MSNBC reported in April of 2007:

“This is like peeling an onion,” Cuomo said. “It seems to be getting worse the more we uncover. It’s more widespread than we originally thought ... More schools and more lenders at the top end. We have demonstrated this is not just the exception,” he said. “This is the rule.”

Which begs the question: does Cuomo has some sort of vendetta against higher education or is he raising legitimate concerns? While his motives may be politically inspired, they are definitely morally grounded. Colleges and universities should be sanctuaries for intellectual exploration, not a vehicle for making a quick buck. Let's keep stop running our nation's institutions of higher learning like businesses operating with a bottom line, and start caring about students by passing on any potential discounts.

1 comment:

Gdub chica '09 said...

I think you've uncovered a very interesting topic that would be quite relevant to GW students - especially those planning to study abroad. My guess is that most students are probably unaware that the issue goes as high up as New York state's atty general. Well written :)