Student calls for greater academic challenge in the York study abroad program

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Before I start, I would like to clarify that I am extremely grateful to study and live in a foreign country for an extended period of time.

I firmly believe one must see the world to appreciate other cultures and gain an understanding for humanity at large.

Now, for the real issue at hand. When I picked my dad up from the train station in York, England on a Friday afternoon in late September, he asked me, “What University are you studying at? Is it York University? One of our clients this morning was telling me how great of a school it was”.

I responded, “No, we are actually studying at York St. John University for the term”.

His expression changed, and he inquired if this, too, was a reputable university. At the time I wasn’t sure, but now I have a clear understanding of the academic standard we are being held to, and let me tell you, it’s not very high.

In my time here, and it is now Week 8 in the beginning of November, I have not had a single graded assignment in any course, other than the one taught by our fabulous Union Professor, Pattricia Wareh. In my other two courses, each requires one relatively short assignment due at the end of the term.

Must I remind you what the current tuition is at Union?

I don’t think I need to, unless you’d like some unnecessary anxiety added to your day.

What am I paying for? It is my understanding that the current tuition for all universities in England is £9,000 per year, or $11,000. We are here for half that time, which should cost $5,500.

We participate in occasional group activities such as day trips to historic towns in England, group dinners and receive reimbursements for cultural activities in the U.K. (up to £80), but do you really think that fills the $16,500 discrepancy?

I do not know nor claim to know the ins and outs of the financial agreement between Union and York St. John, but doing the simple math makes me question where my money is going.

And lastly, if ALL universities are the same cost, why are we not studying at the best possible university in York?

Is Union underestimating the intelligence of its students?

Is the study abroad program meant to be viewed as an academically relaxed opportunity to travel the world?

I don’t know about the rest of my peers, but I find that being in a foreign, academically challenging environment would be an even richer cultural experience.

Challenge me, damn it! That’s what I’m paying for!

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