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Published: Tuesday, 7/13/2010

UT students urged to get passports to boost study-abroad programs

BY GRETA STETSON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The University of Toledo and Ohio State University are encouraging students to obtain and update their passports.

Sammy Spann, University of Toledo's director of academic engagement, said the initiative is part of a larger push to increase international opportunities for undergraduates.

"We're encouraging them to get passports, but also to go abroad more," he said.

Mr. Spann said the University of Toledo compiles and helps students fill out the forms to obtain a passport, and makes appointments for them to get their passport pictures taken.

While UT does not have yet a formal program that encourages or requires students to update their travel documents, he said such might be in the works as the Office of Academic Engagement works to revampthe university's study abroad program.

Mr. Spann said his office hopes to cultivate more international opportunities for students, such as by encouraging faculty members to organize research trips abroad or by increasing funding opportunities.

UT students already can apply for $1,000 travel grants through the Office of Study Abroad and for scholarships from other university offices.

Ohio State University announced a "Get a Passport" campaign in which the university urges all incoming students to get passports.

OSU officials said the campaign, coupled with study-abroad opportunities, encourages students to broaden their world views.

"Passports will be the driver's licenses of the 21st century," E. Gordon Gee, OSU president, said in a statement.

Not all area schools are following suit.

Bowling Green State University spokesman Dave Kielmeyer said that while the university values international experiences, BGSU has no formal push for students to update their travel documents.

The Institute of International Education estimates that 70 percent of Americans do not own a passport.

Contact Greta Stetson at:

gstetson@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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