University of Queensland Study Abroad to End in Spring 2021

James Marks ’23, Contributing Writer

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The Center for Global Study and Engagement (CGSE) has announced that the Spring 2021 semester will be the last time students can study abroad at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. The program will be terminated in favor of expanding the study abroad program at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, according to Samantha Brandauer, associate provost and executive director of the CGSE.

According to Brandauer, eliminating the University of Queensland study abroad program was a long-term decision-making process that involved faculty, students and staff. “It was not a quick or reactionary decision,” Brandauer said, “but one with thoughtful, strategic and careful planning.” 

In a document from the Academic Programs and Standards Committee (APSC) the committee agreed on reasons for eliminating Dickinson’s partnership with the University of Queensland. “There have been true Dickinson in [Dickinson College partner abroad programs] components missing for some time,” the committee said, “including faculty mobility, community engagement and joint projects.” The APSC also referenced the large location of the university compared to the Dickinson program and high costs of living in Brisbane for students. “All of these factors led to a rethinking of whether this partnership was continuing to best serve the needs the institution,” the committee said, “and the approval of these program changes are an indication that it was time to do something new and innovative.”

According to statistics provided by the APSC, Dickinson has sent approximately 450 students to the University of Queensland from fall 2008 to fall 2018 which ranks the program as a top ten study abroad program for the college.

Although Australia has been a popular program for students, the CGSE and APSC has been promoting the University of Otago in New Zealand program. According to the APSC, the University of Otago “has a very strong academic reputation” and a “curriculum that is a good fit for Dickinson.” The APSC continued that at Otago, there are opportunities for more collaboration with scholars and faculty local to the area.

“We are moving from Queensland to the University of Otago, New Zealand, for two key reasons,” explained Provost Neil Weissman, “one of them is, programmatically, we think Otago is a better fit, the coursework and other opportunities they are able to provide students with just stronger programs, and it just a stronger match to our students than Queensland.” Weissman continued that the Otago program has similar academic focuses to the Queensland program

The University of Queensland has garnered a reputation for hosting science related majors. However, Associate Professor of Biology and department chair Scott Boback said “[Queensland] is good but there are better programs out there.” Boback continued that the University of Otago in New Zealand provides more opportunities for students than Queensland.

“Otago there is a very heavy focus on [division] two and [division] three [academics, social sciences and lab sciences],” Weissman said, “we don’t think we’re going to lose anything […] it’s not a critique of Queensland. Queensland is fine, but we could do better with a more affordable host at the time. [Otago] is more affordable [for students] […] so we are making a transition.”

The Queensland program is remembered fondly by students who were able to experience it. History major Cooper Wingert ’20 said, “All I can say is that I enjoyed the program and took a lot from it … I was able to delve deeply into Australian history and conduct original research at archives in Brisbane.”

Other students expressed sadness that the program will end before their opportunity to experience it. These changes will affect the current first-year class since the program will not be available their junior year.

Julia Dixon ’23 explained that part of her decision to come to Dickinson had been based on the Australia study abroad option. “I’m annoyed but not angry, I knew that their neuroscience courses would be transferrable,” Dixon said.

Kay Lorton-Davis ’23 said, “I’m very upset, I was really looking forward to it as I learned about it when I applied here.”

Faculty who have visited the University of Otago described their excitement for the institution. “We are confident this will be a better fit for Dickinson than the University of Queensland,” the APSC said.