On November 21, 2009 in the hall by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church „Saint John of Rila“ there was held a meeting of the Bulgarian community in Chicago with the President of the American University in Bulgaria, Dr. David Huwiler.
On our pages we have already reported the event – link (in Bulgarian). After the presentation of the university and discussion, president Dr. David Huwiler answered our questions.
Exclusively for our readers, he was kind enough to respond in writing. We offer you his answers:
Can Bulgarian students in the US apply for scholarships given out by AUBG?
Yes!—Bulgarian students in the US are eligible for financial aid at AUBG.
What is the tuition cost for other American universities across the world?
Tuition costs vary widely for “American” universities. As you know, tuition costs at American Universities in the US can be as high as $50,000. There are several American universities in Western Europe–the UK, France, Switzerland, and Italy—and these charge from $25,000 to $40,000 in tuition. In addition, the cost of living in university residence halls and the cost of food in Western Europe is much higher. At AUBG tuition this year is $8,300, and the cost of living in an AUBG residence hall is $1,000. Since the cost of living in Bulgaria is about half the cost of living in the US or in Western Europe, it costs less to operate a university here—and less to attend. We are not aware of another fully accredited American university that is less expensive than AUBG.
I would note here that we believe that quality is a more important consideration than cost when choosing a university. Therefore potential students should also consider factors such as selectivity/average SAT score at the universities that they are considering. They should also consider the success of the universities graduates in getting into top graduate schools. Using any of these criteria, AUBG ranks very well among the best universities in the US and Europe.
How much government subsidy does it [AUBG] receive?
At this time AUBG does not receive support either from the US government or from the Bulgarian government—although both provided assistance when the University was established. In addition, ASHA (American Schools and Hospitals Abroad), which is part of USAID, has provided assistance with campus construction projects through the years.
Are the names of the people who founded the American university being kept secret? Absolutely not. They are well known, and we are proud of them. The original board of trustees included professors from the US and Bulgaria, the Provost of the University of Massachusetts, Spas Dimitrov, a member of the Bulgarian parliament, Stephane Groueff, well-known journalist and author, Bob Woodbury, the Chancellor of the University of Maine, Dimi Panitza, the managing editor of the Readers’ Digest, Ognian Pishev, the Bulgarian Ambassador to the US, Sol Polanski, the US ambassador to Bulgaria, George Soros, the philanthropist and financier, Eli Masseva, the mayor of Blagoevgrad, and many others. I will not provide a complete list here, but I’d be happy to send it to anyone who is interested and writes to me.
What percent of the faculty is Bulgarian? American? Other?
Our faculty come primarily from the US, from Bulgaria, and from other countries in Europe. The largest group is American. Most of the non-Americans have done some or all of their graduate work in the United States.
What university in the US has the closest relations with AUBG? Where in the US can students continue their education?
The University of Maine was involved in the establishment of AUBG, but we are now fully independent. Since we have full American accreditation, our graduates can apply to graduate programs across the US, and they are routinely admitted to the best universities in the world. AUBG graduates have gone on to attend Harvard, Duke, Cornell, Columbia, Georgetown, Yale, Princeton, Northwestern, Cambridge, Oxford, New York University, University of California at Berkeley, the University of Wisconsin and many others.
Where are you listed in a rankings/ratings list?
The major rankings do not include any American universities abroad. However, you can compare some of the criteria that are commonly used to rank universities. A common measure of quality is the average SAT score of entering students. We require a minimum SAT score of 1,000, and our campus average is 1,200. That ranks us among excellent American liberal arts institutions. (I would note, as well, that a Business Week survey recently ranked us as the #1 business program in the country).
Do you organize educational practices and specializations for your students?
Our curriculum is organized as it would be at a high-quality US liberal arts university. We offer traditional liberal arts majors and minors, as well as highly regarded programs in journalism, computer science, and business.
We have information that you have started a master’s program in the center especially built for that purpose in the student town in Sofia. What majors are being offered?
AUBG operates the Elieff Center in Sofia, where we offer several outreach programs, including a highly-regarded Executive MBA program. Like the undergraduate programs on our main campus, the EMBA program is selective and of high quality. It fills to capacity each year, and both the Bulgarian government and the major corporations in Bulgaria send students to AUBG’s EMBA program.
More material on the American University in Bulgaria (abbr. AUBG) in Bulgarian can be found here (link).