Guidelines to Attract U.S. Students to Romania

Following the Fulbright Capacity Building Workshop organized by the Romanian-U.S. Fulbright Commission, the group of U.S. participants put together a set of guidelines for attracting U.S. students to Romania.

American participants: Dr. Schuyler S. Korban, Vice Provost, University of Massachusetts Boston; Dr. Roger Hamlin, Professor, University of Michigan; Dr. Tudor Vlad, Director, James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research; Dr. Andrea Sarzynski, Assistant Professor, University of Delaware; Steven Roy Goodman, Educational Consultant and Admission Strategist; Dr. Constantin Cranganu, Professor, City University of New York; Katherine Radande, Director of Study Abroad, Lehigh University; Dr. Nancy Sherman, Professor, Bradley University; Dr. Donna Street, Professor, University of Dayton; Dr. Maria Pia Valdivia, Research Scientist, Johns Hopkins University; and John Nees, MS, Research Scientist, University of Michigan.

We thank them all and send a very special “Thank You” to Dr. Tudor Vlad for compiling the guidelines for Romanian universities.
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Romanian University Guidelines to Attract U.S. Students

•    While the long-term goals might legitimately be to promote joint research, offer joint degrees, have faculty exchanges, and have students take courses in Romania that can transfer back, etc., one first step is for Romania-US partner universities to engage in shorter-term programs together.  

•    Specially designed short-term, study-abroad programs can be arranged for as little as two to three weeks and can take place during a winter short semester, spring break, or in May when many U.S. universities are already out. They need not involve existing courses at first, although it is helpful for Romanian and American students to partner on some short-term project.

•    While short programs might not be the most complete education or the most rigorous academic experience, once the word gets out that Romania is a great place to be,  recruiting faculty researchers and exchange students becomes much easier and the partnership quickly evolves into many other

•    Opportunities for students to transfer credits earned in Romania to their US-based college need to be identified and documented.

•    If full classes are going to be taken by US students, their syllabi should follow current US requirements, including credited textbooks, in order to be considered for transfer credit.

•    Each Romanian institution should have a listing of the course offerings that are taught in English.  Each of these courses should have a syllabus that can be shared with the U.S. institution so that they can be evaluated for equivalency. These evaluations are undertaken by U.S. academic departments (not the international office).

•    Romanian universities may consider expanding their course offerings in English as this will enable U.S. students going to study abroad to take a full course-load.

•    Romanian schools may consider assisting students in finding internship opportunities (if this is already available to domestic students) in various venues, e.g., research centers, private companies, or other sectors.

•    Romanian programs may consider inviting U.S. faculty (i.e., professors) to visit them, give seminars, or offer a few lectures (during a short visit of one week or so), and establish a direct rapport with faculty (i.e., professors) counterparts at Romanian universities.  By connecting faculty, this will allow more research as well as student interactions.

•    Romanian universities may consider inviting a cohort of study abroad directors from a small group of U.S. institutions for short visits to Romanian universities (do it on a smaller scale than our Fulbright workshop), as these directors are the ones that work directly with our students.

•    Instead of trying to be everything to every possible U.S. student, Romanian institutions looking to improve incoming U.S. study abroad numbers should focus on what they do well and target partnerships with U.S. institutions which meet that profile so that there is a meaningful study abroad experience that logically connects to incoming students’ programs of study.

•    Romanian and U.S. universities should try to develop a network of formal tuition-waiver student exchange agreements with dedicated exchange coordinators to facilitate both inbound and outbound mobility.

•    Create or expand Offices of International Student Life to support international students once they are in the country.

•    Create new collaborative degrees targeting areas of complementary graduate study and research.

•    Pursue of undergraduate/graduate “feeder” programs, such as 3+1+1 consecutive degree programs where students complete the first three years of their undergraduate degree at the home institution, then come to Romania for their fourth undergraduate year. After receiving their undergraduate degree from their home university, participating students complete a second year in Romania and receive their masters.

•    Pursue co-supervision/cotutelle agreements, allowing U.S. students to share thesis/dissertation supervisors.

•    Implement seed grant programs to support Romanian and U.S. faculty building  international collaborations that can drive research as well as student mobility.

•    Encourage individual faculty on both sides to build connections with their counterparts.

•    Certificate programs in Romania with U.S. and Romanian faculty as instructors can be organized without a Memorandum of Agreement, as long as U.S. students are not involved. These programs can be financially beneficial for both parts and can be a starting point for further collaboration.

•    Joint research is a good step for developing an institutional collaboration that can later involve exchange of faculty and students.

•    On the administrative side, it might help if each potential host university was to identify the facilities and expenses for hosting short-term visitors- at least generally, knowing that expenses for each trip are usually individually negotiated. That way interested faculty members can focus on the content and learning goals for the trip rather than the mechanics.

•    Document past exchange experiences in some sort of publicly accessible format (and/or with video interviews) would help get the word out to new faculty/admin partners. Providing access to Memorandums of Understanding would help new partners see what was involved in prior successful experiences.

•    On the substantive side, the interests in certificates should be explored more fully within their fields. We can think about creating some standardized curricula for short courses that could be implemented at multiple universities, possibly on a rotating basis-US one year, Romania the next etc.

•    A larger network can be established beyond single university to single university agreements - we can try to organize several faculty members from different institutions bringing students at the same time to have a more robust and diverse learning community. Such a commission might be able to facilitate such network building by putting out a call for proposals or something like it with a small amount of seed money.

•    Make use of bibliometric data through the InCites platform that allows to target particular countries, institutional partners, and collaborators based on common areas of publication strength.

* Websites on Study Abroad Best Practices:
- NAFSA: www.nafsa.org 
- The Forum on Study Abroad Standards of good practice: https://forumea.org/resources/standards-of-good-practice/standard-9/