Student Exchange Programs – How the Universities Benefit?

With near open border concept slowly taking shape and the geographies world-over merging into one another there is a lot of transformation in the traditional way of doing things be it economic tie-ups, infrastructural dependence to beat competition, trans-cultural blend of art and many more. The latest sector where a recent surge in international sharing and cooperation has been noticed is the field of education, especially higher education. As the education providers realized the growth potential of the field, they have orchestrated a recent boom in the higher education sector in India. With more than 30,000 Higher Educational Institutes, approximately 600 universities and 3000 B-Schools, Indian higher education hub has tried to keep pace with global demand. With this growth in higher education sector India has an ambitious target of increasing GER from present 15-18 per cent in higher education to 30 per cent by 2020. These institutes are located pan India from metropolitan cities to second tier towns and cities and smaller towns and scattering right up to rural areas.

In line with the global trend a number of Indian institutes have set up international exchange programs for the students. For instance, in order to provide a cross cultural exposure and a global perspective to the students, IIT Bombay has developed an extensive International Students Exchange Program where nearly 40% of the batch gets a chance to spend a term at a Partner Institute. The institution is planning expansion of  the Program to facilitate a higher number of students participation in these programs. The balance of the students who for some reason are not able to take up the exchange program also benefit  from having interaction with overseas students visiting the institute.

To ensure the efficacy of such exchange programs, enlisted students in their fifth term have to take the full course load for students at their respective University taking only post-graduate level courses which should not be less than 120 contact hours over the exchange term. A student can take credit for a maximum of 30 additional contact hours beyond 120, provided the course is approved by the Office of International Affairs (OIA) Committee. Thus, a student must earn 12 -15 credits while on exchange. The exchange visits in programs in some of the universities range from a week to a semester. The diversity in a classroom due to exchange programs enhances peer learning experience and enriches the classroom interactions, besides giving participants a cross-cultural perspective to the students as a whole.

Exchange programs also introduce to the university to offer an opportunity for participants to pursue specialized courses in leading foreign B-schools for a full semester to gain such knowledge and skills which can lead to higher level of job opportunities thus increasing the institution’s USP and making it a popular destination for candidates.

In an integrated world economy there is a requirement for students to have firsthand experience of various cultures and have to be competent in handling situations in international environment, with a good grasp on local languages. This is the main selling point of Student Exchange Programs as such programs aim at elevating global and cultural knowledge, enhance intercultural communication competencies, address issues arising from inter-cultural traditional issues,  encourage independent learning and facilitate foreign language skills among students thus enhancing career path progression.

Student Exchange Programs provide a firsthand life enriching experience to students engaged in such programs when they are visiting a new country by giving in depth exposure to a student of the traditions, different way of doing things thus making the process and learning very exciting. Such early exposure is likely to play a critical role in delicate matters of human resources as well as conflict and resource management in a student’s life. The in-depth self-study of the host country helps students enhance interest in various global issues such as the conflicts between the developed and the developing nations and provide exposure to students of the different perspectives and views. Students learn to understand the ethos and value systems which are different for each country. . Student Exchange Programs help erase superficial stereotype images that one generally have of a specific country/culture , bridges  gaps through various interactive intercultural communications by understanding different  viewpoints and cultural values between the native and host country. These exposures enrich a participant’s experiences thus exploiting opportunities, mitigating conflicts and thus gaining the maximum ROI for the companies that these individuals later work for.

The universities offering exchange programs benefit from these programs too as they become more visible and develop aspiration quotient.  The partnership with premiere higher education providers around the world increases their threshold, improves the quality of content of their programs and in some cases attracts expat instructional staff, thus enriching the professional dimension of the institution as a whole. These universities through such programs can restructure their business potential and exploit the true potential of their programs by providing quality learning in multi dimensions and disciplines thus facilitating better placements to its students.   The institution offering such programs also benefit from the reciprocal technology exposure to students that are available in developed countries as the home students who undergo such experience, benefit from it and their narration of these at home class also benefits others and adds to the value offered by the parent institute.

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