Every year more than 500 people open applications for ISU’s three main programs, the Master of Space Studies, the Space Studies Program and now also the Southern Hemisphere-Space Studies Program.
However, although they are opened, a large number of these applications are never completed. This is because participants, mainly from emerging countries with low pay rates, discover the size of the contribution that ISU is forced to ask them as a private, non-profit university.
Even if ISU asks only for the marginal costs (e.g., the cost of housing and meals at SSP/SH-SSP), these plus the cost of flight tickets, mean that emerging space country participants are faced with paying amounts which often around two years’ salary…
It is hard for ISU to see these brilliant and motivated young space professionals abandoning their application for these reasons, and it also explains the continued discrepancy in geographical distribution (see pie chart) of our alumni.
As one potential remedy ISU introduced the payback mechanism recently:
- We are asking alumni who can afford it to pay back half of the scholarship received
- We propose modest payback timing and postponement in case of certain circumstances (such as further studies)
- We guarantee that all payback from ISU loans will be dedicated to support participants from emerging countries
- We have several mechanisms to make sure that the payback can help you to reduce your taxes. ISU can issue tax receipts directly to French (an official CERFA 11580 form) and US resident donators (a letter that serves as tax receipt). Those alumni or donators who pay income tax in one of the 15 European countries partners of Transnational Giving Europe (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland) can donate to ISU through the local foundation in their country. They get a tax receipt from the foundation for their donation, and the foundation transfers the amount received to ISU less 5% fees (http://www.transnationalgiving.eu/)
At the moment payback is modest. We are working with your alumni Board of Trustees representative on how to improve this; we will also assist you by putting in place a system of reminders, as we are aware that as young professionals you face several challenges.
Nevertheless, International outreach is a key part of ISU’s 3Is philosophy. Please try to help us to improve the international distribution of our alumni - your future partners in the space world if they are given the right chance!
Pie Chart Illustration Credit: Didier Guillaume, ISU