Despite students publicly expressing disappointment over this year’s study abroad placements, Nick Gozik, director of the Office of International Programs (OIP), said that just over 70 percent of students received their preferred program and semester this academic year, mirroring past rates of satisfaction.
The Office of the Provost, specifically its undergraduate academic affairs office, is also responsible for managing the different demands on University life that the imbalance between semesters requires.
“In light of the growing imbalance in international study ([In 2017-18,] 72 percent of students requesting to study abroad during spring semester and 28 percent during the fall) we have worked with OIP to create options that will provide the balance necessary for our academic and residential housing needs,” said Akua Sarr, vice provost for undergraduate academic affairs.
“While we are pleased that 80 percent of our students got one of their top three choices, we recognize the frustration of those students whose top choices we were not able to accommodate. We are working to assist those students, and we want to reiterate to all of our undergraduates that they can study abroad if they are flexible regarding time and location.”
The University announced last September that it was putting limits on “each semester and program for students studying abroad.” The change meant that students had to commit to one program in the fall on their study abroad applications, even though demand for spring placements is significantly higher.
“This has been a challenging time for all of us, including staff, students, and their families,” Gozik said in an email to The Heights. “We care about the students who come through our office, and it is incredibly difficult not be able to give all what they want.”
Gozik reiterated that this change was necessitated by the imbalance between fall and spring study abroad demand. He noted that OIP included the revised process details in individual advising meetings and Study Abroad 101 meetings, which students are required to attend in order to study abroad.
Yet Gozik said he understood that no level of forewarning helps when students receive bad news.
“Our staff have lived and studied abroad, and we too want the same experience for our students,” he said. “Unfortunately, the University reached a point in which the imbalance between fall and spring study abroad could no longer be sustained. Students themselves were being affected due to challenges around housing and course registrations.
“The good news is that we do have enough spots for all students who meet the eligibility requirements and applied by the deadline,” Gozik said. “Not all may receive their first choice in terms of program and semester, yet there is capacity for all students.”
Placement is still ongoing, but Gozik said that the balancing between fall and spring semesters that was required by the new policy has been achieved.
Eighty percent of students received one of the three choices they asked for on their application, according to Gozik. He went on to say that the majority of these students were “very happy with their placements,” but also noted that “more disappointment has understandably” emerged from the students who did not get placed at one of their top choices.
Those that did not receive one of their top three choices are able to apply again to the programs that still have spots available.
Gozik said he had not received any indication from administrators that the balancing policy will end after this year. He did note that the Office is generally hopeful that with more time to prepare and a better awareness of the difficulties, the balancing policy can create for students looking to study abroad, and OIP can establish an upward trend of satisfaction moving forward.