By: Will Przedpelski, Contributor
The night before study away results were due to be released, the Rinker Center for Study Away & International Education informed students of a new policy: all students seeking to study away for two semesters will be required to submit an appeal. The administration insists that this is not to limit the opportunities of the Furman Advantage, but rather to augment them. Furman claims that this rule will give more students the opportunity to study away for the first time.
Given the stressful application process, limited spots on study-away trips, and strict GPA requirements, Furman’s attempt to make their study away programs more accessible is understandable. That said, the implementation of this new policy left some students stranded. A sophomore who was accepted to back-to-back programs, for example, was removed from both upon the release of the new policy. More concerning still, the letter that Study Away sent out to students read “Furman rarely grants exceptions for students wishing to participate in two semester programs.”
Though the Rinker Center apologized for “abruptly implementing” the new policy, Director Nancy Georgiev said that the Center had been looking at limiting students to one semester for several years. Due to a sudden surge in applications to study away twice, however, the decision was made to implement the policy this year. In this sense, it seems that the Administration’s decision was primarily financially-based, as the Center operates two fiscal years ahead of the current academic year. Nonetheless, it remains unknown why the administration was unprepared for an increase in student applications to apply to study away given that Furman has placed such a large emphasis on experiential learning opportunities like study abroad in recent years.
In response to complaints from multiple students, on February 15, the Administration rescinded the implementation of its newest policy. In an email addressed to the Furman Community it announced, “we will not apply the change to the current study away applicants.”
Nevertheless the administration did indicate that it intended to implement the policy as soon as next year. They hope to improve the implementation of their policy with a committee to evaluate appeals and decide what is best for the applicant as well as other students on the waitlist. Director Georgiev said that the appeals process is not to prohibit students from studying away twice, but rather to “raise the bar” for ambitious students. Moreover, the Center said that if there is a connection between study away and academics, they are “more than happy to grant students’ appeals.”
As for the future, Study Away has said that students will not need to complete an appeal for MayX, Summer programs, and non-Furman programs. Unsurprisingly, these programs are those which tuition does not cover.