Early in the morning on Thursday 26 alluring smell of crispy fried bacon, scrambled eggs and piping hot croissants filled the courtyard of Anglo-American University (AAU). It was coming from Café des Taxis where everything was ready for the annual Breakfast with the President.
At the event students of AAU got a rare opportunity to get answers to all their questions about the university directly from the President Alan Kraustengl and Vice-President and a Member of the General Council Tomas Vachuda.
“I like the idea of the meetings, where students can openly express their opinions and bring new ideas and suggestions,” says Mr. Kraugstengl.
The first question to the President was about an urgent matter for those who are graduating this year – about the WASC accreditation given by Senior College and University Commission; the school expects to receive it by the end of June 2016. This accreditation will significantly increase the value of the AAU diploma and bring it in the line with prestigious U.S. universities.
The process of obtaining the accreditation began in 2009 and now the school is at the stage of submitting the final report to the Committee. The next step will be in March 2016. The WASC Visiting Team comes to AAU to evaluate it once again. It will be followed by the defense statement of the President and his colleges in front of the panel of the Committee. The decision of the Committee is expected shortly after the panel. The president added that even if the University will not manage to receive the accreditation before the graduation in summer, students would still be able to say that they have a diploma from a WASC accredited university.
The President expressed his hopes that the accreditation will attract more students from the U.S. However, the president emphasized that it does not mean that students from the States will be more welcomed than any other.
“There cannot be any discrimination,” adds Kraustengl. The origin of a student will not influence the decision – good studies is the only factor.The exciting news about the increasing value of diploma was followed by the question about the possible rise of tuition. The president commented that even now the tuition is rather low compared to other private European and American Universities. However, with the WASC accreditation the tuition will be increased.
“If you want to buy a Mercedes, don’t expect to buy it for the price of Skoda,” jokes the President.
For those applying for Fall 2016 the tuition might go up by 25%. However, the President assured everyone that these changes would not affect currently enrolled students.
During the breakfast the President confirmed rumours about AAU plans to open a dormitory. The University found a beautiful neo-classic building right by the river in the walking distance from the campus. Project is still at the phase of negotiations it will be followed by several months of reconstruction works. So, fingers crossed, in the nearest future over 200 AAU students will escape from the accommodation stress.
Students also raised the question about the attendance policy. Now students can have only two unexcused absences, otherwise they need to provide an official document such as medical statement in order not to lower their grades. However, sometimes students might have a solid ground not to come to school that they can’t support with an official document, such a work meeting or urgent family reasons. The President agreeably nodded while listening to the question and said that he is aware of the problem and doesn’t think that the system is perfect. One of the ways to improve the policy might be a partial transfer of power to the faculty staff. The staff will be responsible for deciding whether to mark the absence of a student as excused or not after assessing the grounds and the student’s performance.
Towards the end of the breakfast when all finished the food and leisurely drank a cup of coffee, everybody got involved in a live discussion about the drinking policy in AAU. After a several jokes and arguments the President agreed to give a second thought about mitigating the rules.
Breakfast with the President has become an annual tradition. This year there were not so many attending students as in previous years but it didn’t make it less interesting or informative. Everyone got a chance to get to know Alan Kraustengl a little better.
Cover Photo by Margarita Orlova
By Margarita Orlova