Many of the students and faculty at St. Lawrence are beginning to feel the weight of the European debt crisis. International students are faced with the same financial hardship many Americans were faced with only a few years ago. St. Lawrence is also encountering potential issues in their endowment, but there seems to be an upside when it comes to studying abroad.
Many people are holding their breath to see what happens. Even though Europe is across the ocean, they still have a heavy impact on St. Lawrence. “Almost daily, you are reading in the US and financial press about the impact on the European debt crisis on the US financial markets,” said Michael Jenkins, professor in macro-economics.
One concern that has come to light is the lack of jobs in the United States for university graduates, Jenkins said, explaining that though the European debt crisis has little impact on this, it still leads to a lot of uncertainty in the job market. “The job market isn’t as good as we would like it to be for soon to be graduates at St. Lawrence,” Jenkins said.
Archie Livis, the grandfather of a St. Lawrence student, Andrés Balboa-Livis, suggests there will be an increase in students that major in the sciences. Majors such as global studies, psychology and other liberal arts don’t have as many job opportunities in an already job deficient market, said Livis. But this still leaves a problem for the students that have recently graduated, who can’t find a job. Mr. Livis is the former vice president in charge of Gillette’s diversified group, currently resides in Spain and is seeing firsthand the difficulties Europe is facing. He questions whether his grandson will have a job after graduation, if he returns to Spain.
With the lack of jobs for people with high school degrees there will be an increase in applications to university, especially international students. Archie Livis believes enrollment to private universities will decrease because students don’t have money driving students to attend cheaper, potentially state, colleges. But many state schools do not offer financial aid to international students.
The endowment is one factor to consider. “The most significant effect on St. Lawrence would be the stock market, in which our endowment is invested. It might implicate for returns on our endowment, which influences revenues the school depends on,” said professor in government Alan Draper. A strong endowment allows St. Lawrence to offer appropriate salaries, support teaching and research and keep faculty at an ideal size.
All these factors are important to attract faculty, Draper explained. The endowed scholarships are permanently funded by alumni, parents and friends. This funding is an important source for many students in need of financial aid, but if alumni start to lose their jobs, the endowment could decrease.
There is one positive facet and that is the prices to study abroad will decrease. The value of the Euro has been significantly down, making Europe less expensive. “For our students going overseas to Spain, Italy and France, they get a little more value for our dollar. It also makes the University’s costs for the programs over there, a little cheaper,” said Draper. This will help St. Lawrence save money and maybe make up for the difference in the endowment, he added.
Many of the international students, including Livis’s grandson Andrés Balboa-Livis on campus are greatly affected, both negatively and positively. “I am able to get a greater education. I will be one of the few people who will be able to get a job. It helps that I know more languages. The U.S. has lower expense costs, which makes living here easier,” said Andrés, who is also an international student from Spain.
According to Archie Livis, the debt crisis can lead to more foreign students attending universities that have the money to pay the full tuition since Europe has a lack of jobs and since these people are looking for a good education and learning another language.
Even some of the faculty are affected by the economic decline. Professor Marina Llorente, a native to Spain, is not directly affected, but she knows many people back home that are struggling. “The prices are going up for everything, medicine to insurance,” Llorente said. “But salaries are not as high as they used to be.”
Vaseleios Prassas, an international student attending St. Lawrence from Greece, is one of the many students depending on financial aid. “Things are really bad in Greece right now, I can see it in my parents. I don’t even know if I will be able to go back to Greece,” said Prassas.
Many international students are working on campus to earn a little money and deciding to stay on campus during breaks. The cost of going back home is becoming too expensive. “It makes me work a lot of hours on the university, which it takes up many of my hours that should be devoted to studying and seeing friends.” Vaseleios hasn’t been home since last Christmas.