Study abroad programs at three Ivy League schools to be investigated

Nine months after financial aid officers at institutions around the country were scrutinized for receiving kickbacks from private loan companies, study abroad programs at 15 colleges and universities — including three of Yale’s Ivy League peers — are under investigation.

Last week New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo expanded an investigation of independent college study abroad providers to some of the institutions that work with them, including Harvard University, Brown University and Columbia University, according to reports in Monday’s edition of the New York Times. So far, Yale has managed to stay out of the picture.

Cuomo is seeking to determine how colleges authorize study abroad programs and whether school officials receive incentives and gifts — such as paid trips, membership on advisory councils and commissions from student fees — from the study abroad organizations.

Harvard spokesman John Longbrake told the News that the university is evaluating a subpoena it received at the end of last week, but declined further comment. Yale Associate Dean for International Affairs Jane Edwards — who is in charge of Yale’s study abroad efforts and is a former member of the Forum on Education Abroad, which establishes standards for study abroad programs — also declined to comment about the investigation, even though Yale has not received a subpoena.

Suspicions about study abroad programs were raised after Times article published Aug. 13 revealed that officials at some colleges were receiving perks from their dealings with the organizations that facilitate many of the trips in which students participate. After that story was published, Yale’s lawyers evaluated how the International Education and Fellowships Programs office, which coordinates study abroad opportunities at Yale, chooses providers, Edwards told the News in September. Edwards said then that the evaluation revealed the office’s practices were ethically sound.

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