Australia-based exchange program a possibility for Simpson


by Shara Tibken

London, Nicaragua and Germany are all locations where Simpsonstudents can study for a semester. Soon, one more place may beadded to the list.

Simpson College is currently in the process of establishing anexchange program with Curtin University in Australia.

“We have the hope that for the fall of 2004, students will beable to study in Australia,” said John Bolen, academic dean andregistrar.

Curtin University is located in Perth, Australia. WesternAustralia, the state in which the college is located, has about 1.8million residents and 1.3 million of them live in Perth itself.

Geographically, Western Australia is approximately the size ofthe Midwest United States.

Simpson chose to work out a deal with Curtin University becauseof the quality of the school.

“Curtin probably has the best international program anywhere,”said Bolen.

Bolen also believes that since most people who travel toAustralia go to places on the east coast such as Melbourne andSydney, it is important for Simpson students to experience adifferent side of Australia.

“The students have a better chance to be connected with theoutback [in Western Australia],” said Bolen. “Curtin does a betterjob in introducing the students to Australian culture than otheruniversities in Australia.”

Curtin University is a large college with 32,000 students. Ithas both undergraduate and graduate programs.

The campus is fairly new. The oldest building is only 40 yearsold.

“Although it is a large university, the campus was designed tohave several smaller campuses on the big campus. If a person’smajor is communications, then that person will be focused in acentral area,” said Bolen. “It feels like a small college.”

Since most people from Australia who attend Curtin Universityactually live in Perth, it is primarily a commuter college.

“The international students live on campus in dorms similar tocondos,” said Bolen. “Those students have the first choice ofhousing.”

The deal that the college is hoping to develop will bebeneficial to Simpson students. They will be able to attend theuniversity for the cost of Simpson tuition. Other costs, such asroom and board, will also be the same as Simpson’s.

Students should note that nothing is definite yet, but if theprogram goes through, they will leave for Australia in mid-July andreturn before Thanksgiving. These students will have a much longerwinter break before staring second semester.

Students will also be able to take classes that count towardstheir majors, rather than simply taking Cornerstones like many ofthe study abroad programs Simpson offers.

Simpson College has been trying to work out a deal with CurtinUniversity for quite some time.

“We have been in negotiations for the past 18 months attemptingto establish an exchange program,” said Bolen.

Bolen himself traveled to Australia in the summer of 2003 totour the university.

From Dec. 13 to Dec. 19, five faculty members from Simpson willtravel to Perth to take a look at Curtin, although Bolen said it isuncertain which faculty members will make the trip.

According to Bolen, the faculty members will be looking atcurriculum taught at Curtin and obtaining catalogs. They will alsotalk directly with Curtin faculty members about the college andcourses offered.

The faculty members will spend two to three days with theircounterparts at Curtin and look at the methods of teaching used bythose professors.

Bolen said the faculty members are also expected to “come backwith lists of courses that students can take there to count towardtheir majors.”

Simpson wishes to form an articulation agreement, in which thecollege accepts courses taught at Curtin as equivalents to what isoffered at Simpson.

“A course description often doesn’t tell what the courses areactually like,” said Bolen. “It is more important to talk face toface with the professors about the courses.”

According to Bolen, Curtin has many things to offer Simpsonstudents academically.

“It is renowned throughout Southeast Asia for its internationalmanagement and marketing programs, along with many other majors,”he said.

Simpson hopes that in the fall of 2004, one faculty member willaccompany students to Australia. That professor will teach a coupleof courses at Curtin University, while the students take upperlevel classes for their majors.

Bolen said Simpson also has aspirations that someday a professorfrom Curtin will teach at Simpson as a guest professor.

In the meantime, Simpson College will be talking and negotiatingwith Curtin University regarding the exchange program.

“We don’t want to push this unless we can set it up to benefitSimpson students,” said Bolen. “It is up to the faculty members[who are going there] to decide what they think of Perth. Simpsonis not going to do something unless everyone is on board.”

Bolen hopes that the college will be able to announce in Januarywhether it has worked out an agreement with Curtin or not.