The Collegian
Friday, February 23, 2024

Letter: Students must understand differences between U.S., European higher ed

To the Editor:

At the Centre for European Studies of the Jagiellonian University, we very much value the small but brilliant stream of Richmond students who have studied with us in Krakow in recent years, and trust that they have generally been satisfied. We were therefore concerned to read the references to our program in your Feb. 12 issue. This article contained several inaccuracies that we would like to correct.

Michael Padovano's assertion that one of his teachers canceled "over half their classes" is baffling and false; while it is true that some classes were called off due to unavoidable circumstances, our policy is that all "canceled" classes are rearranged at a later date, and attendance is required from students. No learning opportunities were denied. Study trips are also an important academic element of our program, and Mike is incorrect to suggest that only one was reimbursable; he forgets the excursion to the Polish mountains, for which he neglected to sign up. Lastly, your article quotes incorrect fees charged "to European citizens" -- the amount given in fact applies to a different program and is therefore irrelevant to the issue.

We are sorry to hear that Mike did not consider our university (incidentally one of the oldest and most prestigious in Central Europe) to be of a comparable calibre to Richmond, and we will strive to ensure that the level of academic rigour is satisfactory for future students. We would join the Richmond Office of International Education in reminding students going abroad that academic methods and standards vary in different countries. European university education tends to expect students to be more independent and take responsibility for doing reading and engaging themselves academically without the volume of assignments typically required in the U.S. undergraduate system. In Poland, reading in preparation for seminars is the norm (along with the self-study, presentations, essays and final exams that our students are typically required to do). We aim to give our Richmond and other U.S. students the opportunity to benefit from learning in a different educational context and philosophy, and look forward to continuing to seeing more of you experiencing the charms of Krakow.

Yours sincerely,

Ben Koschalka

Centre for European Studies,

Jagiellonian University

Support independent student media

You can make a tax-deductible donation by clicking the button below, which takes you to our secure PayPal account. The page is set up to receive contributions in whatever amount you designate. We look forward to using the money we raise to further our mission of providing honest and accurate information to students, faculty, staff, alumni and others in the general public.

Donate Now