UH to offer passports to students
Starting this fall, UH students interested in traveling abroad will now have an easier time obtaining a passport due to the ‘Passport for Coogs’ initiative.
The concept for the program began with UH’s Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Paula Myrick Short as the result of two factors.
“One was UH’s commitment to participate in the International Education Institute – Generation Study Abroad initiative to double the amount of students going abroad over the next five years,” Short said. “The other was that incremental costs hinder student participation in learning abroad programs.”
According to Short, 80 percent of UH students don’t have passports and “60 percent of them receive financial aid.” UH is making it simpler for students to obtain their passport by providing them with the tools and guidance that they would otherwise not have access to, Short said.
“It typically takes between six and nine months for (students) to properly plan and budget for their learning abroad program, so we want to plant the seed as early as possible,” Short said.
She said that students wanting to procure their passport “will only need to have a proactive attitude towards learning abroad and bring proof of their U.S. citizenship.” Students interested in participating in the learning abroad program will need to have taken 12 credit hours and have a 2.5 GPA or above.
One of the goals of the program is to get more students interested in attending colleges around the world where UH has established partnerships through joint research initiatives and dual academic programs.
“The Office of Learning Abroad assesses students’ needs on an individual basis to offer them a wide assortment of institutions and places,” Short said. “For this reason, UH also encourages students to participate in learning abroad programs led and developed by our renowned faculty.”
Short has established a U.S. Passport Acceptance Center with funds allocated through students’ fees, which will be run by Vice Provost Jaime Ortiz. UH’s U.S. Passport Acceptance Center will initiate and complete the entire passport process for students.
Ortiz said that the United States Passport Acceptance Center would be run by “three designated agents” including himself. UH falls under “less than two percent” of universities in Texas to have a U.S. Passport Acceptance Center on campus, said Ortiz.
“Being able to be a part of bringing that to UH is really amazing,” Ortiz said. “It is just one more step (towards) making campus globalization a reality. I am truly excited and humbled to be a part of it.”