State Department Travel Advisories limit funding

At the end of January, a group of representatives from a variety of NGOs in South Asia came to Sama Tower to present summer opportunities to NYU Abu ...

Feb 22, 2014

At the end of January, a group of representatives from a variety of NGOs in South Asia came to Sama Tower to present summer opportunities to NYU Abu Dhabi students. The presentation was well-attended, and the possible internships piqued the interest of a few students.
Freshmen Roberto Lescrauwaet initially showed interest but later learned that the school would not fund or support the internship he hoped to apply for in Lahore.
“I felt disappointed, but I understand why the university does this — to keep us safe and look out for our best interests.”
NYUAD and the Office of Global Education has a policy of not sending students to countries flagged by the U.S. Department of State’s travel advisories. Associate Vice Chancellor, Global Education and Outreach & Vice Provost Carol Brandt, emphasized this part of NYUAD’s policy about sending students abroad.
“[NYUAD] will not fund students to go to any place that the U.S. State Department has a travel warning unless the student is from that country because it is their home and then there is a safety net for them, or at least one would assume.”
The revelation that non-Pakistani students would not be eligible for funding in Pakistan spurred several rumors surrounding the controversial policy.
One of the explanations heard throughout the conversations was that NYUAD, being a U.S.-based institution, cannot send students to countries on the United States’ travel advisory list. Brandt clarified that economic sanctions against some countries, such as Iran, mean that NYUAD as a U.S. institution cannot support students’ activities in those countries.
For Lescrauwaet, part of the disappointment stemmed from the belief that the U.S. State Department list is not a fair test of a country’s safety. He said that he was left wondering  about the university’s decision: They would send students to India and not to pakistan, even though some areas of India might be more dangerous.
Brandt also expressed the sentiment that certain countries’ identification on the list are made for political reasons.
While NYUAD has lifted this requirement once to allow a group of students to go to Kenya, Brandt explained this was done only after the university decided security could be assured. Brandt was clear that this was an exception, because it would be too difficult for the university to bend consistently in this manner.
Lescrauwaet said that even though he understands the situation and the parameters set by NYUAD, he felt “they should work to send students to places that are considered unsafe but are objectively maybe just as safe as other places.”
Carol Brandt reiterated that NYUAD has a desire to make sure students travel with good judgment, look at advisories and exercise an abundance of caution.
Sam Ball is the deputy opinion editor. Email him at
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