Academic exchange programs as a step to the globalization of education
Пальчевская Е. С., Куимова М. В. Academic exchange programs as a step to the globalization of education // Молодой ученый. 2015. №5. С. 516-518.
Education is not received. It is achieved.
Globalization has advanced open societies, furthered a free exchange of ideas and knowledge. Nowadays Russian students with a high level of academic achievement and foreign language can participate in exchange programs and continue their education in partner universities outside the country.
As well as this, international cooperation and communication of teaching staff provide academic exchanges, promote a constant circulation of scientific knowledge and acquisition of a wide range of competencies. Exchange processes also contribute to the modernization of general and professional education, increase the efficiency of research and eliminate cultural isolation typical to national systems of education and science [1, 4, 12, 13].
There are a number of benefits for students who study at academic exchange programs. Students:
- can choose a partner university and the length of studying;
- have opportunities to master a foreign language;
- have an individual study plan;
- may receive scholarship (depends on mutual agreement between universities);
- receive support and guidance (academic and visa adviser, city orientation and accommodation support, medical care, etc);
- have a lot of opportunities to make new friends from all over the world.
Moreover, academic exchange programs stimulate university administration to develop joint syllabi and introduce strategies to foster academic mobility. All these lead to a strong motivation to study a foreign language, master professional knowledge and raise academic performance [2, 8].
However, students might face with the following drawbacks of participation in these programs:
- partial financing;
- misunderstandings with host families, dormitory matters;
- various syllabus difference (study pressure, assessment system, rules, academic punishments, written assignments, etc.);
- difficulties in intercultural communication, poor knowledge of another language and culture;
- necessity to meet different deadlines (thesis / research / project work, written papers, etc.) [10, 11].
Furthermore, a burden of extra expenses, poor awareness of possible scholarship and grants and necessity to take additional exams decrease student motivation to participate in academic exchange programs. Meanwhile, academic exchange programs create worthwhile opportunities to promote personal creativity, self-assertion and self-realization .
There are various forms of international academic exchange:
- programs of academic mobility;
- programs of student / teacher / scientist exchange;
- international conferences, seminars, lectures;
- joint projects;
- research and practical training.
Academic mobility is a complex process of student, technology, knowledge and culture exchange. It has an important value for a personal enhancement, future employment, formation of understanding and respect to the diversity of other cultures .
Successful realization of these programs requires:
- interest of the partner universities in developing programs and motivating students to participate;
- development of the system of mutual credit transfer between the partner universities;
- harmonization of educational standards;
- strengthening of contacts between the academic staff of partner universities .
Academic exchange programs are oriented to heighten student awareness and understanding of another language and culture . They give students the opportunity to get many-sided education in the chosen major, provide access to recognized universities and leading scientific centers, make them able to meet labor competition [5, 9].
Currently TPU has academic exchange programs with 23 partner universities. We conducted a poll among 19 students of Institute of Non-Destructive Testing who took part in exchange programs and asked them the following questions:
1) Why did you participate in the academic exchange program?
a) to get more opportunities for future employment (42 %);
b) to learn more about my major subject (32 %);
c) to experience the life abroad (21 %);
d) to experience the culture of another country (5 %).
2) What excites you most in studying abroad?
a) new academic environment (42 %);
b) taking responsibility for oneself (32 %);
c) building a new friendship (16 %);
d) participation in cultural events (10 %).
3) Continue the phrase: “Participation in the academic exchange program helped me …”
a) develop inner strength and better self-understanding (47 %);
b) develop academic skills (21 %);
c) develop communication abilities (21 %);
d) master the foreign language (11 %).
4) Which difficulties did you encounter when you were abroad?
a) high cost of living (53 %);
b) foreign language (32 %);
c) syllabus (10 %);
d) a large range of classes (5 %).
5) What did you like in your studies?
a) academic achievements (37 %);
b) seminars and practical work (32 %);
c) convenient schedule (21 %);
d) assessment system (10 %).
6) Would you like to participate in the academic exchange program again?
a) yes (84 %);
b) no (11 %);
c) I don’t know (5 %).
7) Would you recommend academic exchange programs for participation?
a) yes (90 %);
b) no (5 %);
c) I don’t know (5 %).
Considering the answers we can say that students claim that participation in academic exchange programs is beneficial for future employment, opportunities to study in the new academic environment. They developed inner strength, better self-understanding and improved academic achievements. In spite of some difficulties, the majority of respondents liked their program and would recommend the participation in academic exchange programs to other students.
On the whole, participation in academic exchange programs gives an excellent chance to acquire new academic experience, improve foreign language abilities, gain a fresh perspective on a foreign culture, interact with peers in a social setting, emerge in a productive atmosphere with international students at the campus and ensure future success in an increasingly globalized labor market.
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