Response from American universities to a proposal for the creation of a World Student Bank "has been good," according to William Speer, associate Dean of Student Affairs at M.I.T. and initiator of the proposal. The purpose of the Student Bank would be to make more possible "the flow of students from one country to another."
The World Student Bank would allow a student to borrow foreign currency to study abroad, and to repay the money in installments when he returned, in the currency of his own country. At present, even if a student has enough money to study in a foreign country, he is often unable to exchange his currency for that of the country in which he wishes to study.
As well as simplifying individual financial problems of students who wish to study in countries other than their own, the World Student Bank would provide an international structure through which "governments, foundations, and individual colleges could cooperate more effectively in making educational opportunities of all countries available to capable students of any country."
Planning in Early Stages
Though plans for such a Bank are still in the very early stages, Speer suggested that the initial subsidy for the project could perhaps be gotten from an international organization like the World Bank. Once begun, the enterprise would be "revolving," since money would be constantly repaid. He emphasized that a World Student Bank would have to be kept "above the political level." For this reason, it should not be under the control of individual governments.
While the Bank would be organized on an international level, Speer noted that it "has to rely on the initiative of one leader in each." Its organization within each country would be geared to the specific needs of that country; a nation, for example, whose economy was based on farming, might wish to send most of its students to study agriculture.
David Henry '41, Harvard foreign student advisor, described the proposal for the World Student Bank as "very challenging and imaginative." He said it would be particularly useful in countries which don't sell much to the United States; "it will be much easier if they can pay in their own currency."
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