CORVALLIS - In the wake of the economic crisis in Asia, Oregon State University will defer tuition for as many as 95 students from Indonesia, Korea, Thailand and Malaysia who are scheduled to graduate this June from OSU.
The university is also seeking ways to help other Asian students affected by the plummeting economy, officials say. The Office of International Education has established an Asian Student Task Force to coordinate assistance efforts and to communicate with student associations and the community.
"We have received several offers of home stays for students in financial trouble," said Laurie Lewis, one of the coordinators of the task force.
The 95 students on track to graduate this summer are receiving priority assistance because "they face the most serious loss of funding support as they attempt to finish their degrees," said Jack Van de Water, dean of the Office of International Education. The Indonesian currency has lost about 75 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar, he pointed out, and currencies in Korea, Thailand and Malaysia have lost about 50 percent.
OSU has created an "Emergency Loan Fund" to assist Asian students with financial problems. The university has more than 150 students from Indonesia, and another 250 from Korea, Thailand and Malaysia. Students from other Asian countries also may feel the impact of the Asian economic crisis.
The Office of International Education is consulting with government officials of Asian countries. Several Asian graduate students at OSU are sponsored by their governments and have been receiving full scholarship support - which may now be in jeopardy.
"We have, for example, 46 Royal Thai scholars at OSU," Van de Water said. "They are an elite group of graduate students selected by the Thai government and, until now, fully funded."
Van de Water said OSU has received a letter from the Thai Embassy indicating tuition support for these students spring term is "doubtful."
"We are working with the Thai Embassy on some sort of solution," Van de Water said. "If we can get through spring term, perhaps conditions will improve."
Individuals or groups who would like to assist Asian students may call the Office of International Education at OSU at 541-737-3006.