Undergraduate students at Duke Kunshan University in China are contributing written and multimedia content to The Chronicle.
Beginning in fall 2022, Duke Kunshan University will not accept students from DKU’s Classes of 2025 and 2026 for study abroad at Duke’s Durham campus, according to an email sent to rising sophomores from the DKU Office of Global Education.
The email noted a “record number” of applications for fall 2022 at Duke, far exceeding capacity. Due to these capacity constraints, study abroad at the University will be limited to juniors and seniors. Rising sophomores and the incoming class of first-years will instead be provided with in-person academic opportunities via customized DKU Global Sites for fall 2022.
The decision drew mixed reactions from DKU students currently studying at Duke and remotely. First-year Will Norton expressed gratitude for both Duke and DKU administration’s response to unprecedented times and optimism for the future of the DKU Global Sites program.
“Not being able to come to Duke next semester is a shock to our systems, but we would be undermining the potentially awesome opportunities that DKU is offering us if we didn’t give it a second thought,” Norton wrote.
First-year Ava Baker echoed Norton’s sentiments. “It’s been really stressful constantly having no idea where in the world you will be next year and I think this new interim campus has the potential to provide the stability we’re all missing,” Baker wrote. “No longer having to worry about transfer credits and the like will give us the time and space we need to really start enjoying our college experience.”
First-year Ace Asim is taking DKU courses remotely and expressed frustration about the position remote students have been put in.
“Online students feel trapped right now, and I feel like nobody cares about that,” Asim wrote. “On one hand, DKU is closer to us, and on the other, Duke is too expensive.
Asim added that DKU and Duke students tend to have a “disconnect with their classes and their social lives, and it’s not what we signed up for.”
Ensuring that international students’ can return to China remains DKU’s highest priority and leadership is in active conversation with Chinese government officials concerning the timing of these returns. If China remains inaccessible to a large number of students due to the complexity of future travel from over 50 countries to China, first-years and sophomores will have the option to study abroad at DKU’s Global Sites, DKU’s GO and GO-FLEX locations, or take courses remotely.
The specific locations for DKU’s Global Sites will be announced by early March. The sites will offer opportunities outside of the United States and China for students to take classes with other students in the Classes of 2025 and 2026. DKU plans to support visa access, COVID-19 management protocols and customized student programming for the development of intercultural competency and its global learning goals.
DKU plans to change normal tuition rates for these programs and accept the full range of financial aid toward tuition costs. Program fees and other incremental costs will be “less than or equal to” similar costs of a semester at Duke.
Despite this, some students remain concerned about the costs of these programs. Daivik Thanki, a first-year studying remotely, wrote that the main reason many international DKU students did not participate in on-campus learning at Duke and “resigned themselves to an inferior method of learning” was “because our hands were twisted by the crippling cost that studying at Duke would put on our families.”
Other remote students added that the plan fails to address the costs of attendance for studying abroad. First-year Jaap Steunenberg wrote that the new policy “disregards the reason many students are not currently at Duke—costs.”
While Duke offers a full scholarship, including room and board, DKU only offers a full-tuition scholarship—so if a DKU student wants to enroll at Duke, room and board are not covered, making it out of reach.
“While I applaud the idea of bringing all students together, the communication so far seems to suggest that it will present students with a bill similar to a semester at Duke. And, when it comes down to it, this will once again exclude many students from their DKU college experience,” Steunenberg wrote.
As DKU evaluates prospective sites over the next few months, DKU remains hopeful that international students will be able to return to China for the fall semester.
“We signed up for adventure when we applied to DKU, and while all adventures come to an end, such as the adventure that is Duke [in Durham], it’s an end with new beginnings, with the potential for something remarkable,” Norton added.
Charlie Colasurdo is Kunshan Report editor and a junior in the second-ever graduating class of the Duke Kunshan campus’s undergraduate program, located outside Shanghai, China.
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