UAC students who entered in 2019 Spring. Courtesy of UAC.

 

Ever since the University of Utah Asia Campus (UAC) opened in September 2014, its greatest number of students entered in the spring semester of 2019.

According to the information provided by the UAC, 126 students had enrolled and set this new record. The UAC began as an American university located in Songdo, Incheon, South Korea with only 13 students and a few faculty members, so it is incredible that the UAC has been able to grow so quickly.

The UAC is on an unstoppable momentum. “We can bring incoming students — maximum 25 students — per degree program every semester,” said Randall McCrillis, dean of students. “And we almost met this standard on 2019, Spring.” UAC needs to start thinking about increasing the maximum number of students admitted every semester. However, the campus cannot expand for now because of their housing problem. “We can’t provide enough rooms for students when we expand our standard,” McCrillis said.

To follow the standard of the ministry of education, the UAC is not yet planning to change their quota to focus on providing high-quality U.S. western-style education to its students.

In September of 2014, only 13 students had enrolled in the UAC, which lacked systems and facilities. At that time, there were no UAC buildings, so students needed to take their classes at another university’s facilities.

“I wanted to study abroad and have an experience of different country’s culture,” said Nicole Shelton, a second-year studying communications who is satisfied with her life in Korea. “All members of UAC are so kind and quite welcoming [to] international students, and they helped me to settle in Korea. They tried to make me feel less alone. I wanted to learn a new culture, a new language with the American education system in Korea. I think it is a great opportunity to study in Korea with an American western education system.”

Shelton was a PR marketer, working for the student government in the UAC. Now she has prepared to do something new in her life. “I am planning to live in Korea for a while. It is better than America when we think about safety,” she said. Shelton highly suggested students who are studying at the Salt Lake City campus to come to the UAC for a year or a semester.

Jessie Yun, a first-year studying film and media arts, expressed the expectation of her life in UAC: “I heard [about] UAC from my mother’s friend, so I searched UAC via social media and an official website of the UAC.” She said that she wanted to experience an American education in Korea, and she thought it is a very great opportunity to enter UAC and learn general knowledge from the UAC community. But she is concerned about the lack of a system and registering for courses. “I was disappointed that it seems there are not enough courses to take while I am studying at UAC,” Yun said.

UAC first-year students on September 2018 (Courtesy of UAC)

Some may question the difference in the number of students admitted in the spring semester and fall semester. Because of the Korean educational system, the UAC brings in more first-year students from Korea every spring semester as most Korean high school students graduate in February.

The increased number of students admitted every semester also centers around a newly added qualification, the TOEIC.

The TOEIC is “an English language test designed specifically to measure the everyday English skills of people working in an international environment.” Many Koreans take this test to be promoted in their company and to work towards college graduation. Before UAC included the TOEIC test in its qualification requirements, there had been no more than a hundred students enrolled since the school’s opening. However, the UAC decided to include the test in its qualification requirements for every spring semester since 2018.

More than a hundred interested students entered in the UAC for the spring semester. The 2018 spring semester had the most significant number, 102 students, entered in throughout previous UAC history. And now, the spring of 2019 has set the new record.

“TOEIC is the number one exam for Korean,” said McCrillis. “Depending on the location where we live, we need to adopt the best option we can choose for bringing more incoming students.” He explained the ACT exam, which high school students who are studying from Utah mostly take, is comparable with the TOEIC. “We added TOEIC as an additional test for students because UAC is located in Korea.”

The UAC has been growing steadily and looking forward to opening more departments. “We are planning to open more departments,” said Todd Kent, Chief administrative officer. “Civil engineering is a high-competitive department in the U.S. We hope more incoming students be part of the civil engineering department.”

The UAC stopped taking students in the Department of Social Work to open a new department more fit for Korean students. “We don’t want to close any departments in UAC,” said Kent. “We have no plans for that. Up to work for us, we can bring more incoming students.”

The UAC is profoundly proud of themselves about the systems and programs that they provide to students. “Global workforce is changing,” Kent said. “And UAC is providing the programs for students to think creative and innovative which most employers recently want employees to have.”

[email protected]

@TheChrony

Mitch Shin is the University of Utah Asia Campus correspondent for the Chronicle.

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