Webster University student Cassi McDonald studied abroad for eight weeks, from January to March 2012. She chose to study abroad for one term instead of an entire semester for three reasons: nervousness, money and timing.
Starting fall 2013, studying abroad for an eight-week term will no longer be an option for Webster undergraduate students.
“I think (eliminating the eight-week study abroad option) will turn a lot of students away from the program,” said McDonald, senior public relations major. “I had never been out of the country and I was terrified, but I knew it was something that I wanted to do. But there was no way I could have gone a full semester being away from my family and my friends and my boyfriend. I couldn’t do that. And let alone pay for it.”
Guillermo Rodriguez, director of study abroad and international projects, said Webster’s study abroad office at the Webster Groves location was not involved in making the decision. Directors at Geneva, Leiden and Vienna decided to cut eight-week undergraduate courses at their campuses.
Rodriguez said Robert Spencer, director of the Webster campus in Geneva, knows why the decision was made at the three campuses. Spencer, who also oversees the directors of each European campus, could not be reached by press time.
Rodriguez said he found out about the decision in October at the Webster Worldwide Study Abroad meeting in Leiden. This meeting occurs every two years. Study abroad representation from Webster campuses and partnerships in St. Louis, London, Vienna, Leiden, Geneva, China and Thailand attended.
“Some students — not a lot, but some students — have been going to (study abroad) just for a term and coming back mainly because of consideration of the cost,” Rodriguez said.
Money was an issue for McDonald. She saved just enough to study abroad for eight weeks.
Rodriguez said some students have taken advantage of the eight-week option by studying at two different campuses in one semester.
“That’s probably not going to happen now,” Rodriguez said.
McDonald said Webster’s study abroad program was a significant factor in her decision to attend Webster.
“I think they will lose prospective students,” McDonald said.
McDonald thinks cutting the eight-week option will make studying abroad more difficult for students.
The deadline for study abroad applications for fall 2013 is March 15, 2013.
Graduate students will still be able to study abroad for an 8-week term.