Money is motivation
Lynn Leonard’s justification for cutting study abroad options that “student enrollment in non-affiliated programs has an impact on the integrity of the GW academic program and the value and reputation of the GW degree,” (“GW cuts study abroad options,” Oct. 24, p.1) is nothing more than bureaucratic rhetoric. Since, as the article noted, GW students pay the same tuition to study abroad with GW and GW-affiliated programs as they do to attend GW in D.C., the true motivation behind this cut is money. Leonard and her cronies are obviously more concerned with the size of the University vault than the loss of GW’s reputation as an internationally focused school.
By cutting so many program options, GW students are going to be academically compromised, not helped. There has never been an issue with the reputation of a GW degree, and, in fact, many GW students have an advantage, as many have been able to study abroad because GW accepted credit from many institutions with many different programs. This cut is going to have the opposite effect that Leonard purports. This decision is a slap in the face to GW’s academic advisors as it undermines the validity of courses that academic advisors had previously approved. Being freshmen who chose GW because of extensive study abroad options, this new policy has led us to have second thoughts about staying.
-Sean Holiday and Ross Matzkin-Bridger
Finest not represented
As a sophomore interested in studying overseas in England, I am disappointed in GW’s plan to cut non-affiliated study abroad programs. Through my own research of English institutions, I’ve come across The Times’ (London) rankings of English universities; their report is akin to the U.S. News and World Report rankings that GW is so fond of. According to The Times’ rankings this year, the top five universities in England are: Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, the University of Bath and the London School of Economics. Mind you, these schools certainly are the cream of the crop but to the best of my knowledge, neither GW nor our study abroad affiliates have programs in any of these universities except Imperial College and Pembroke at Oxford (entrance is very competitive and limited).
I’m suspicious of some of the justifications GW has used in defending this new policy, particularly its desire to ensure that GW students receive a quality education abroad. If GW really wanted to offer quality programs for its students, the administration and the study abroad office would engage in relationships with some of the best schools not just in England, but globally. Frankly, the programs currently offered do not impress me, but I always had the option of going elsewhere to study abroad. Now students do not even have a choice anymore.
-Lisa M. Chung
Profs best judges
When I first began looking into study abroad programs, I did not care if the program was affiliated with GW or not. All I wanted was a program that would allow me to be directly enrolled in a Spanish university and live with a Spanish host family. The only programs I found that our University offered were classes that were taught in English by American professors and attended only by American students. I knew very well that if I were to opt for such a program, my level of Spanish would not be changed greatly and besides, I can study with GW professors and GW students here in D.C. I opted for a program that allowed me to enroll directly in the University of Salamanca during an entire academic year for thousands of dollars less than GW tuition. Had it not been for this non-affiliated program, I never would have been able to afford to study abroad.
Although scholarships follow you abroad if you study with George Washington, your job does not. Moreover, the University of Salamanca is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Europe, having been founded in 1218.
The Office of Study Abroad claims that it will still allow students to study on non-affiliated programs if they go through a stringent application process. I cannot imagine what this process will be like as already the Office of Study Abroad makes it nearly impossible to study abroad with a non-affiliated program. In order to take classes at the University of Salamanca, I had to translate all the course descriptions from the University of Salamanca (and even get some translations certified), bring the translations to department heads, plead my case and then hope to get the classes approved (The Office of Study Abroad managed to lose all of my approved class descriptions during their move across campus while I was abroad). One professor approved my class only after he had seen that it came from the University of Salamanca, saying that he regularly turned down other students whose courses came from universities that he did not approve of.
GW professors have already been taking their own measures to ensure the academic quality of study abroad programs. Although I doubt it will happen, I sincerely hope that the Office of Study Abroad will consider changing this ridiculous new policy.
-Renee Dhyana Paris
I am currently studying abroad in Montpellier, France through a College of William and Mary yearlong program. I was disgusted to read GW has changed its study abroad policies and now restricts choices to GW-affiliated programs only. If this policy had been in place last year, I would not have been able to go on this more than qualified program. Instead, I would be limited in my choices, despite being enrolled in what I thought was a very internationally oriented university. I would also be forced to pay full GW tuition for whatever program I choose, rather than the mere $8,000 tuition for my current program.
It seems GW once again chose a policy that will increase its financial income rather than improve its academic quality. In retrospect however, this should not be very surprising considering that President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg thinks that he is the CEO of a corporation. It is sad that GW continues to choose what boils down to be financial greed over academics.