University exchange programs proven to be beneficial for students

Image source: UniSA

By Andie Carlson | @andiecarlso

Australian students are making the most of their university’s growing international partnerships, with student exchanges providing travel and business opportunities.

In 2016 over a quarter of all enrolled students in Australian universities were international students, made up of predominantly Chinese and Indian students, highlighting the value of overseas partnerships.

Many universities now offer and encourage students to go overseas and study with one of their partner universities, allowing students to travel during a time that they otherwise might not be able to.

University of South Australia Law and Business student, Amelia Roberts, completed a semester exchange last year at Stetson University in the United States.

“I think that going on exchange has definitely helped me… I have grown in both independence and confidence and I think that these are two qualities that have aided both my studies and performance in my workplace,” Ms Roberts said.

Ms Roberts said the process of going on an exchange was made straightforward by the University of South Australia’s exchange team who assisted throughout, even while overseas.

“They all knew what they were doing and were incredibly approachable when it came to asking questions or seeking guidance right up until when we left,” she said.

“When it came to things like applying for visas or getting travel insurance, they knew exactly what was required and the best place to get it.

“I had the experience of being evacuated from my campus in Florida due to a hurricane. We were off campus for almost two weeks and I had someone from UniSA contact every few days to make sure that everything was alright.”

Exchanges can commonly be done over semester or year-long periods, where students undertake courses that contribute to their degree at their home university.

While on exchange students often live on campus and have the opportunity to become immersed in the culture and lifestyle of their host university.

The experience provides young people with an accessible way to travel and live independently overseas in a safe and supported framework.

Ms Roberts said her exchange gave her a newfound confidence, assisting her in other areas of her life, and would recommend it to others.

“Having more confidence to express my opinions both at work and at uni is something that I have definitely noticed since getting home and is one of the main things that people have pointed out to me since finishing my semester in Florida,” she said.

“Going on exchange was the best decision that I have ever made. It was quite daunting leading up to my departure but I would encourage anyone who is considering applying to give it a go.”

Ms Roberts also took the opportunity to travel around the United States in her study breaks and, after finishing her studies at Stetson, utilising her time overseas.

Universities provide travel grants of up to a few thousand dollars for students doing an exchange, to help cover the cost of flights and accommodation.

A list of UniSA exchange partners can be found here, and students wishing to do an exchange must find a host university with an appropriate arrangement, offering similar courses to those they would be completing as part of their degree.

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