The continuous surge of patients infected with coronavirus has detrimentally impacted the school’s internationalization drive. Various programs which boasted their exchange with foreign schools and students have either unprecedently been cancelled for 2020 or are on the verge of cancellation.
Three major programs hosted annually by the Office of International Affairs (OIA) are Ewha International Summer College (EISC), Ewha-Harvard College in Asia Program (HCAP), and Global Student Partnership (GSP). Ewha International Summer College, which was planned to take place this July and August, and GSP, has both been completely cancelled. As for HCAP, it will take place online.
EISC was founded in 1971, with approximately 300 international students and 125 Ewha students participating in the program last year. Various professors from Ewha as well as foreign universities such as Syracuse University, University of Georgia, Temple University, University of Toronto, and more gathered to give high quality lectures for a six-week or eight-week program during the summer.
HCAP is a program where Harvard University partners up with Asian universities to form international networks and nurture future Asia experts and leaders. The program consists of a conference in Boston and Seoul, as well as touring the schools and taking lectures. A variety of group activities allow students to adapt to the foreign culture and enjoy time with their peers from the counterpart school.
GSP, which is similar to HCAP, is the attempt to expand the field of global exchange to Asia and Europe. The novel exchange program with The Chinese University of Hong Kong started last year, with 50 students applying to participate.
“Personally, I’m worried that students will have too much work on their shoulders,” said Park Subin, a sophomore from the Division of International Studies, who participated in HCAP in the first semester.
Students are required to plan all activities that Harvard students will participate in when they come to Korea. Park said that last semester, HCAP only accepted 10 participants, so the workload for each student was doubled compared to previous semesters. She had to work in the budgeting department as well as in student support.
As HCAP requires constant cooperation between the different departments, she hoped participants will be able to hold meetings successfully despite the current situation.
She also expressed her concerns about the quality of experience. She emphasized that engaging in offline activities is crucial in order to truly understand the culture.
“Despite this, I want to applaud the school’s willingness to continue these large-scale programs like HCAP despite this difficult situation.”
Furthermore, delegation visits from foreign educational institutions, which took place more than 90 times in 2019, did not take place at all this year.
OIA stated the Office is engaging with foreign institutions through virtual online meetings instead, to explore different ways of academic collaboration.
Times Higher Education (THE), a London magazine focusing on providing global higher education coverage, ranked Ewha’s international outlook for 2021 as tenth out of 1,527 Korean universities.
The school is constantly striving to achieve internationalization but is facing difficulty with the pandemic.
“Travel restrictions amidst the prolonged pandemic have targeted not only Ewha but all major universities around the world as well,” OIA said. “We are continuously discussing with overseas universities about how to overcome COVID-19, and the direction of exchange between schools after the recovery.”