FMU discusses new study abroad opportunities

The International Programs held a Spring Liaison Meeting on Jan. 26. FMU currently offers study abroad opportunities at 11 universities in five different countries, including Ireland, France, Germany, Canada and England.

“We want our students to be able to go abroad,” said J. Mark Blackwell, professor of philosophy and religious studies and director of international programs. “[President] Carter makes it happen.”

Each university is carefully chosen to ensure that students will be safe and receive a quality education while abroad. Study abroad partners tend to be smaller sized universities. FMU faculty extensively research the potential partner and meet with their faculty repeatedly.

“We take about 12 to 18 months anytime we select a partner,” Blackwell said. “We take a lot of time to research and do the work on the partner to know that the partner is a good fit for us and our kids.”

All study abroad classes, except language classes, are taught in English. FMU also helps students find housing and covers a portion of the plane fare.

“We don’t use tuition money, nor do we create tuition money for this program to work,” Blackwell said. “So it’s not a tuition-driven thing.”

The opportunity to study at the University of Borgos (UOB) in Borgos, Spain, is soon to be available to students. In addition to Spanish majors, other majors are welcome to apply, depending on the course offerings.

Before sending students abroad, the presidents of both universities must visit each other’s campuses. This requirement has not been met yet due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is the last step before UOB becomes open to FMU students.

“Our policy is a very wise policy,” Blackwell said. “We have to visit their campus. They have to visit our campus. So, we’re just waiting to clear the way to get there and do it. At this point, until we visit, we won’t be able to go ahead and complete a contract.”

The Rennes School of Business (RSB) in Rennes, France is also on the verge of partnering with FMU. FMU needs to make a visit to RSB before sending students there. RSB will accept only business majors, but the majority of FMU’s partner universities accept students from all disciplines.

Due to COVID-19, all study abroad programs have been shut down due to the pandemic. However, the international program is currently accepting applications to tentatively send students abroad in the Fall 2021 semester. Blackwell encourages students interested in studying abroad to visit the International Programs webpage on FMU’s website at

Blackwell said the international program is a great experience for students, despite their concerns or apprehension.

“It broadens your horizons; your maturity changes; your socialization increases,” Blackwell said. “Students go away often a little concerned or scared, then they come back and they’re upset because they want to go back or they don’t want to come back [to the U.S].”

For the first time in the history of the international  program, the study abroad application can be filled out online. The deadline for applicants is March 1, 2021. Interested students can also contact Blackwell directly at