Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Study abroad programs at Oxford University and Cambridge University beginning next year

The University will offer only full-year study abroad programs at Oxford University and Cambridge University beginning next year. Students will no longer have the option to study abroad for one semester at those universities, and petitions for one-semester programs will not be approved.The decision was made to encourage students to benefit from a comprehensive immersion experience, said Kendall Brostuen, director of international programs and associate dean of the College. Until about nine years ago, Oxford and Cambridge did not offer a semester option at all, Brostuen said. The universities follow a trimester schedule, comprised of one eight-week term in the fall and two in the spring.

Oxford and Cambridge operate under a tutorial system, through which students take two intensive classes per term in a focused area of study. This tradition of highly individualized and independent work is unique to Oxford and Cambridge, which is why Brown's new policy applies specifically to these universities.Our aim is to expose more students to this system, respecting, at the same time, its traditional format for delivery,Brostuen said.Over the past five years, 44 students have spent a full year at one of the two universities, and 43 students have spent just a semester.

Akash Shah '12, an economics concentrator who spent his junior year at Oxford, said it is "100 percent worthwhile to do a full year.Shah said he took the opportunity to go abroad in order to become a more global person and chose Oxford because its curriculum focuses on applying your skills rather than just taking a test.Theresa Lii '12, a neuroscience concentrator, spent a full year studying abroad at Cambridge. She said full-year American students were much better integrated into the student body than those who came for only one semester. Being there for the entire year allowed her to make lasting friendships, she said.But for other students, a year abroad is too long. Ethan Reed '12, said he can't imagine not having attended Cambridge during the spring semester of his junior year, but his decision to study abroad was dependent on the semester option. He said he would not have gone for a full year because students returning to Brown after an entire junior year abroad "hit the ground running and immediately have to start thinking about jobs.

The November deadline to apply to study abroad for the full year at Oxford or Cambridge is too early for some students considering the year-long commitment. Currently, students hoping to study at Oxford or Cambridge in the following spring semester need to apply by May.You need to give people the opportunity to discover themselves,said Mica Fidler '12, who studied at Cambridge spring semester of her junior year. "The desire to study abroad came late for me, and I got the best of it.Students in favor of the semester option also said it is more difficult for double-concentrators to spend an entire year abroad because they have more requirements to fulfill at Brown.The London School of Economics and Political Science, Imperial College London and the University of Durham also only offer year-long study abroad programs. The Office of International Programs still offers semester-long programs at 25 other institutions in the United Kingdom.

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