December 2, 2020

Webster University European campuses will not cut 8-week study abroad, director says

Courtney Turner is currently studying at Webster’s Geneva campus for an 8-week term. Late last fall, she heard from another student that study abroad was cutting 8-week term options at Webster’s European campuses.

Webster’s European campuses in Geneva; Vienna, Austria and Leiden, Netherlands will continue to offer enough 8-week courses for students to study abroad for an 8-week term. Webster’s home campus study abroad department incorrectly notified students that, starting fall 2013, 8-week terms would no longer be an option for Webster’s three European campuses.

Late last fall, Webster’s study abroad web page displayed a notification in large, black, bold print which stated, “PLEASE NOTE: Beginning Fall 2013, 8-week terms for Fall and Spring will no longer exit for undergraduates. Only graduates will have the option to do 8-week terms.”

Guillermo Rodriguez, director of study abroad and international projects, learned from Robert Spencer, director of the Webster campus in Geneva, that the information was incorrect. Rodriguez removed the notice in late December.

Rodriguez said he was informed that the European campuses would be cutting 8-week courses at the Webster Worldwide Study Abroad meeting in Leiden in October. Now, Rodriguez said, it was unclear what that meant and study abroad misunderstood. He said they were concerned students wouldn’t have enough course options to study abroad for an 8-week term.

Rodriguez said the meeting discussed the European campuses’ desire to increase the number of semester-length courses over 8-week courses.

“It was a miscommunication, a misunderstanding as to what does that mean and how soon, if ever, that was going to take place,” said Rodriguez.

Turner said if Webster didn’t offer an 8-week study abroad option, she wouldn’t have been able to study in Geneva.

“This is my first time actually living on my own,” Turner said. “It’s a really big step.”

Turner said 8-weeks made sense for her financially, too. She had the added expense of housing because she doesn’t live on campus in St. Louis.

Grant Chapman, associate vice president for academic affairs and director for international programs, said it was not his understanding that the three European campuses would be completely cutting 8-week courses.

Chapman said decisions regarding the number of 8-week courses offered at European campuses are made through collaboration with the

home campus and the European campuses.

Spencer said, in March, the European directors discussed the possibility of significantly cutting the amount of 8-week courses at the annual spring meeting of the European directors and academic directors.

The directors refrained from taking further steps to implement the course reductions after Webster’s academic deans of schools and colleges at the St. Louis campus advised them not to last April. He also said European directors and academic directors do not have the ability to make unilateral decisions on major policy changes.

Webster’s European academic directors discussed cutting the number of 8-week courses. Student course evaluations and faculty feedback had expressed many subjects are taught better over a longer period of time.

Rodriguez said study abroad is not sure how many 8-week courses will be offered next school year because the course schedules are not finished yet.

Spencer said the European campuses currently offer more 8-week courses than semester-length courses. There will not be a significant decrease in the number of 8-week courses offered.  Any 8-week courses eliminated will be replaced with a semester-length course.

“The European campuses are gradually changing the ratio of 8-week to semester-length course, but as of the present the former out number the latter and will again next year,” said Spencer in an email.

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