Q & A with UCEAP Head Jean-Xavier Guinard
You were recently appointed Associate Vice Provost and UCEAP Executive Director. How did your previous experience prepare you for this position?
A: I am a faculty member at UC Davis, and over the past ten years, I have served on committees and task forces on international education, including a group that assessed the internationalization of UC Davis and one of the first task forces to review EAP study centers, which I co-chaired. I also served on three or four academic review committees for new EAP programs.
I have taught in a UC Davis summer abroad program for the past ten years. That experience helped me see that even a short-term program abroad can be valuable academically and personally for our students. I served as the EAP Madrid study center director in 2005-06 and then as associate vice provost for international programs, overseeing every aspect of international education at UC Davis for the past three and a half years. Now, as Associate Vice Provost and Executive Director of UCEAP, I am more than just a manager; the academic title conveys the important message that UCEAP is an academic program.
Putting on your Associate Vice Provost hat on for a minute, how does EAP fit within the University’s internationalization strategy?
A: We need to distinguish between education abroad at the undergraduate level and the much broader subject of internationalization. The latter includes sending students abroad, bringing international students and scholars to our campuses, developing international research initiatives, hosting international delegations, sending chancellors and administrators overseas, and establishing campus and systemwide initiatives. The broader internationalization strategy of the University of California is focused at the campus level. EAP’s role is to promote study abroad for all UC students by offering a complement of UC and third-party programs to provide the best options for UC students.
UCEAP is currently implementing a new funding model based almost entirely on student fees. What circumstances precipitated this change? What does this mean for students?
A: UCEAP needed a sound business model. Our huge budget deficit was not just a result of a few inefficiencies--the funding model (based on the marginal cost of instruction going to EAP) was fundamentally flawed. The new model places EAP on a more solid financial basis. It will be critical to find other ways to fund EAP to keep fees low. For example, we plan to raise scholarship funds to compensate for fee increases. Our goal is to increase access and to bring new populations into the study abroad enterprise. We are especially eager to increase participation among science and engineering students and students with disabilities. We plan to go to non-traditional destinations and expand our programs beyond traditional classroom instruction to research labs, internships, and service-learning opportunities.
UCEAP has just emerged from a period of restructuring, in which it significantly cut its staff both at its headquarters and abroad. By what magnitude has UCEAP reduced its size? Has UCEAP reached an optimal size?
A: The reductions have been quite dramatic. We have reduced staff at the UCEAP systemwide office by more than 30%, from 108 FTE to 71, and we made similar cuts at our study centers. But while we made significant cuts, so did every unit on the campuses. We are now able to operate efficiently. But our programs and FTEs will need to grow modestly to meet increased student demand within the next three years.
What are the budgetary challenges for UCEAP in the next five years?
A: In addition to implementing the new fee-based funding model, the main budgetary challenges are to build reserve and contingency funds. We must build a reserve to address uncertainties inherent in our business like currency fluctuations, natural disasters, and other emergencies. Approximately 85 to 90% of the study center budgets are in other currencies, which makes them sensitive to fluctuations of the dollar. We also need a contingency fund to provide six to nine months of salaries, benefits, and operating costs, which we propose to build over the next three years. I am pleased to report that by the end of the year we will have erased EAP’s substantial deficit.
The UCEAP Governing Committee was established last year to “act as the primary governance structure through which UCEAP will coordinate its activities with UC internationalization efforts systemwide.” Please describe UCEAP’s relationship to the EAP Governing Committee. How is it different from its relationship to the University Committee on International Education (UCIE)? How do these two oversight bodies differ?
A: The Governing Committee is a management oversight body and UCIE is an academic oversight body. There is some overlap between the two in membership; UCIE has a significant presence on the Governing Committee. The Governing Committee is advisory to the Provost, who makes the ultimate business decisions. Our vision for EAP is study abroad for all, academic excellence, and the best business practices. I strongly disagree with the idea that academic excellence and the best business practices are incompatible.
Most faculty familiar with EAP view the use of UC faculty as study center directors as one of its primary strengths, and one that made it a “Cadillac” program. The SCDs’ role in academic oversight, advising, and student security and welfare has distinguished the program among its competitors. How will UCEAP compensate for the loss of SCDs at many EAP locations as it moves toward a regional study center director model?
A: Does anyone still drive a Cadillac? My point is that the model established 49 years ago may not be the best one for today. Yes, we had to downsize. One way to downsize and achieve efficiencies was to eliminate some of the study center director positions, which were very expensive and were not the best use of our faculty members. However, we are not reducing the involvement of the UC faculty in EAP. We are increasing it, but in different ways. One way will be through faculty advisory committees, which will be similar to Academic Senate program review committees, but with an expanded role and representation from each campus. I want faculty to be involved not only in the planning and design of new programs, but also in their implementation abroad and on UC campuses. We also will explore how to get faculty involved on the campuses with academic integration and in marketing and recruitment efforts. These are big roles that go beyond normal service expected for UC faculty, and we are thinking about how to compensate faculty who serve on these committees. We will also use faculty as consultants based in California who will conduct site visits and lead activities on UC campuses. Onsite, we will gradually replace Study Center Directors with Resident Directors, who will be a faculty member at the host institution with some knowledge of UC. Most other public universities in the United States have been relying on this kind of model. So while we are losing something with staff reductions, we are compensating in creative and meaningful ways.
How are EAP’s reciprocity programs valuable to the University?
A: First, reciprocity agreements help make study abroad more affordable for UC students. Second, having international students in classrooms and programs exposes UC students to other peoples and cultures. Reciprocity students spend up to a year on UC campuses. This is controversial as we face a budget crisis because campuses receive registration and campus fees for these students, but their tuition is waived per Regental agreement. But I urge campuses to consider the benefits of affordable education abroad for UC exchange students and international exposure for all students on campus. I am so impressed by the value of reciprocity to EAP that we highlighted it in our application for a Heiskell Award from the Institute for International Education.
What are EAP’s current enrollments? Has the economic downturn had an effect on enrollment? What are your long-term growth projections?
A: Enrollments are steady. The total number of participants has grown over the past few years, and we project continued growth. We project that we will have 4,700 participants this year and next year, and we predict growth to 5,100 students by 2013-14. The trend to fewer year-long immersion programs and more short-term programs mirrors national trends. We will increase our summer offerings, which are six to ten weeks in length, as well as quarter-length programs, since they better fit with campus calendars. We are also increasing offerings in non-traditional experiences, such as internships and service learning and research opportunities.
Many faculty have proposed that UCEAP become a bona fide third-party provider, opening its programs to non-UC students. Some have even suggested that this could generate significant revenue for both UCEAP and the University. Is this a viable option?
A: This is a viable option and we are considering it, not only for its revenue generation potential, but also as a means to achieve efficiencies, and to bring UC students into contact with other students. Everything is on the table, and by “everything” I mean the types of programs and the types of students. Right now we are piloting study abroad partnerships with the Cal State system to achieve efficiencies by sharing coordinators or facilities. We are also considering opening our programs to non-UC students. One pie-in-the-sky idea I have is a “California Study Abroad Initiative,” which would promote global citizenship education for California students. It would establish a study abroad partnership among UC, CSU, and some of the California private institutions. There are differences in our respective programs, so we could all benefit as a state if we were to open access to each others’ programs. However, there are many logistical challenges to this idea.
What is UCEAP’s philosophy in designing new programs? How do you balance academic rigor with the popularity of short-term programs such as language and culture programs? Are there any kinds of programs that EAP will not do?
A: Language and culture programs, if of sufficient length, are an outstanding way to acquire foreign language proficiency and significant cultural exposure. I mentioned that we want to grow in non-traditional directions, such as sponsoring internships. We hope to increase non-traditional cohorts of students by opening such programs.
Please describe academic integration efforts and your plans for the future.
A: Academic integration efforts attempt to show how the study abroad experience can fit into all students’ curricula. It is our biggest challenge. Ideally, every major and department would be able to articulate how a portfolio of EAP courses would fit into the regular curriculum. Some progress has been made on some campuses. For example Lynn Anderson, Dean of International Education at UCSD, has worked with faculty and departments to prepare templates that show how study abroad and other international activities are part of their curriculum or major. They plan to move this to an online format so students have easy access to the information. I would love to see this replicated on all campuses. Provost Pitts suggested that the bodies that govern UCEAP take on responsibility for evaluating courses and curricula on a systemwide basis to systematize academic integration. This will require significant faculty involvement, and while we have many faculty champions, champions are not sufficient – we need the entire team. How do we engage faculty? How do we show them the value for them of participating, especially since it is in their job description? Can we make this service part of the merit and promotion system?
UCEAP is a systemwide effort that relies on campus offices to promote and market its academic programs, yet it often competes with campus-based programs. Does this pose a problem for UCEAP’s expansion and enrollment growth?
A: You can look at it as a challenge or as an opportunity. If we all promote study abroad, then we all win. More importantly, we win for our students and for the University. My position is not to compete with campus offerings, but to complement them. Once we understand the needs of our students, we can design programs to meet those needs. Some campuses have done a great job of developing niche programs that meet a need for all UC students
There has been some talk about UCEAP moving to a campus or forming an administrative partnership with a campus. If this happens, what form will it take?
A: I prefer the phrase “administrative partnership” to “moving to a campus.” An administrative partnership will allow us to achieve efficiencies. A Call for Proposals to form an administrative partnership was released last spring. Three campuses initially expressed interest, but for now, UCEAP will remain at UC Santa Barbara. However, we must preserve UCEAP’s systemwide identity and maintain a firewall between the campus and UCEAP budgets. We have drafted a memorandum of understanding and are working with both UCOP and UCSB toward a final draft that will be assessed by the Governing Committee, which will then make a recommendation to the Provost. Hopefully, this will be accomplished by 2011-12.
EAP is nearing its 50th anniversary. What is being planned to commemorate this occasion?
A: On this noteworthy occasion we will celebrate EAP’s tremendous significance for students over the past 50 years. The 50th anniversary presents an opportunity to celebrate and promote EAP and to engage in development, marketing and outreach. We have established a planning committee to engage our 80,000 alumni, not just for fundraising purposes, but to ask them to provide opportunities like internships and to help UC recruit more international students to its degree programs. We also will seek support for initiatives such as student scholarships, programs for students with disabilities, and staff development.