In a recent change to the study abroad program, students will no longer be able to study with universities not affiliated with RPI. Administrators were having concerns about the academic quality and consistency of non-affiliated programs, which prompted the policy change.
Dean of Undergraduate Education Prabhat Hajela is hoping to create as many opportunities as possible for students in all areas of study to go overseas. “We want to focus on institutions that all students can go to,” said Hajela.
In the past, students could study abroad at schools not affiliated with RPI by researching the school themselves and setting up the credit transfer. In order to help ensure the academic standards enforced by RPI, students are now restricted to programs within RPI affiliates.
Hajela has also personally taken part in study abroad programs. He recently went on a nine-day trip to India with students to conduct research. “The facilities were state of the art,” said Hajela.
Another issue up for debate regarding the study abroad programs is whether to require all students to take a semester abroad during their four-year academic careers. On that subject, Hajela gave his personal opinion based on experience.
“I personally feel that studying abroad is an invaluable opportunity,” said Hajela. “It can be a life-changing experience. Just talk to any undergraduate student who has done it.” Expanding international exchange programs is also a priority. There are currently 70 students visiting RPI from 10 different countries.
In 2009, RPI also launched the Rensselaer Engineers Across Cultural Horizons program, which is an international exchange program for engineers. In association with the program, engineering students can study abroad at technical universities in Denmark and Singapore. In the future, REACH will be expanded to be accessible to students in all academic disciplines.