Facts and Figures
The Center for Academic Writing has been an integral part of Central European University since 1991. When the University was founded, a Language Teaching Center was created to provide general language skills courses. An external consultancy report in 1996 revealed that these courses were not addressing the principal needs of students from the region, who were particularly weak in writing; as a result a general academic writing course was developed for graduate students in the social sciences. Since then this course has become increasingly oriented towards the specific needs of individual departments, in collaboration with faculty and student feedback. For this reason the Language Teaching Centre was renamed the Center for Academic Writing in 2003.
Advanced courses on thesis writing began to be introduced in 1999, with a thesis writing course for Legal Studies. This was followed by a course in research and thesis writing for students of International Relations, taught jointly with faculty, and a thesis course for economists in 2001. The first PhD level course was offered in dissertation writing for Legal Studies students in 2002. At present we teach or co-teach advanced writing or thesis/dissertation writing courses in most departments.
Since 1998, the experience and qualification level of the writing center instructors has also increased dramatically. Almost all members of the unit now have master's degrees in a relevant discipline, and several are now finalizing their PhDs.
In Fall 2004 the Centre for Academic Writing was awarded a “Writing Program Certificate of Excellence” from the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), the world's largest professional organization for researching and teaching composition, from writing to new media. This award recognizes, among other factors, the contribution made by the CAW in the following fields:
- Imaginatively addressing the need and opportunities of its students, instructors, institution, and locale
- Using current best practices in the field
- Modeling diversity and/or serving diverse communities
Each year we offer academic writing courses to about 450 MA students. Courses are tailored to the specific needs of departments, and we currently teach students in Sociology and Social Anthropology, Environmental Sciences, Political Sciences, International Relations and European Studies, Public Policy, Legal Studies (including Comparative Constitutional Law, International Business Law, and Human Rights), Nationalism, Gender Studies, Economics, Law and Economics, Philosophy, Mathematics, History, and the History and Medieval History two-year program.
Since September 2001 the center has had over 23,000 consultations; during the 2009/10 academic year we provided nearly 3000 writing consultations to MA and PhD students as well as faculty, covering genres such as research papers, position papers, policy papers, theses, proposals, book reviews, dissertations, critiques, articles for publication, presentations, statements of purpose, cover or motivation letters and CVs.
The CAW has always sought to gain quality feedback on different aspects of its work ranging from course content, methodology and individual delivery. Students have consistently given very positive feedback on all aspects, particularly stressing the professionalism, expertise, helpfulness and availability of instructors. Students also frequently mention that the writing course syllabus closely tallies with the expectations of their professors in setting written assignments.
For the Academic Year 2004-2005, we conducted an exit survey to assess how useful students found the services of the Center for Academic Writing retrospectively. This survey revealed that 95% felt the Center plays a useful role in supporting content courses. While students identified several valuable areas in which consultations helped them improve their writing, the most frequently mentioned was help with the structure of their papers (82%).
 See http://www.ncte.org/cccc/awards/writingprogramcert