Campus study abroad units join to increase access for students

In an effort to increase the number of UC Berkeley students studying abroad, the campus created a single unit that combines the administration of all the campus study abroad offices.

The new office, called Summer Session, Study Abroad & Lifelong Learning, combines the administration for Berkeley Programs for Study Abroad, Summer Sessions and the adult learning Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, but will not cut any staff positions, according to Richard Russo, director of the new unit, which opened Sept. 1.

The consolidation of the summer session and academic year study abroad programs will mean that students can receive advising for both study abroad options at one on-campus location, as opposed to in the past, when advising for the programs was in two separate offices. However, though student advising has been consolidated, the two institutions’ offices have remained separate.

“The main purpose of consolidating the units is to facilitate and try to triple the number of Berkeley students going abroad,” Russo said.

The timeline to meet this goal has yet to be set, said Barbara Tassielli,  assistant director of the Berkeley Study Abroad program. The campus currently sends about 1,200 students abroad every year, giving it the second highest study abroad rate among UC campuses, trailing only UC Santa Barbara, where the UC Education Abroad Program is based.

The campus began this restructuring project after observing UCLA’s success with a similar reorganization, according to Russo.

“This reorganization was done solely to improve and meet the needs of Berkeley students and increase our ability to accommodate the growing number of students (studying abroad),” Russo said.

According to Russo, the consolidation does not save the campus money but has allowed the new study abroad office to add one more full-time study abroad adviser. In addition to providing a one-stop advising location for both summer and academic year abroad programs, the new unit will also facilitate the creation of a sustainable revenue model similar to the one the summer session office had followed.

The summer session previously offered short-term travel study options,  which may be expanded to the academic year through the consolidated unit. Russo also said that the new office will develop study abroad programs specific to UC Berkeley, such as short-term travel study and faculty-led international programs catered directly to UC Berkeley students.

“There is the capacity for the new office to create new options,” Tassielli said. “But for the time-being and foreseeable future, we are a continuation of UCEAP and summer session travel study.”

Tassielli said that although the consolidation would make it easier for students to receive advising, the way students apply for study abroad programs would remain the same.