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As a third-year commerce student at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business, Marcel Glaesser spent an academic semester at the University of Mannheim last year. After completing his studies in Germany, he decided to stay longer and landed a six-month contract with BMW in Munich.

A worker puts an emblem on a BMW 5 series car at the plant in the Bavarian city of Dingolfing.

“The coolest thing is that I got to do so many things,” he recalls, citing marketing-related assignments that included preparations for the company’s annual meeting held in a stadium, complete with a display of prototype cars.

His experience typifies a growing trend among undergraduate and graduate business students to study and work abroad while earning their business degree. For Mr. Glaesser, Germany held appeal because he was born there before his family came to Canada 10 years ago. He took his classes in English at Mannheim, but had to brush up on his German to work at BMW.

His advice to other students is “go abroad, go abroad. It will set you apart.”

The same message comes from Canadian business schools, some with formal and informal arrangements to promote international experience opportunities for students before they graduate.

For example, Beedie recently signed an agreement with the British Columbia and Caribbean branches of the Certified General Accountants for an accounting student to spend a work term in Barbados every year.

“We feel it is a great opportunity for students because they get to work and learn,” says Andrew Gemino, associate dean of undergraduate programs. “We would love to do more,” he adds. “It is a matter of finding those opportunities and working on them.”

About 1,700 Beedie commerce undergraduates – about half of the enrolment – are at one stage or another of the school’s co-op program, either completing a prerequisite semester, applying for a placement or actually on the job. Every semester, between 170 and 240 students are actually working, with about five per cent choosing to go abroad.

“Through a variety of different ways, the students are becoming more comfortable and more interested in working internationally,” says Shauna Tonsaker, co-op education program director.

Her office provides financial and other assistance to students before, during and after their work stint. Prior to departure, all students complete an online course to minimize culture shock. This summer, students have chosen placements with major firms in half a dozen countries, including China, Japan and Germany.

“They get the experience of working in a culturally diverse work environment, gain experience for the first time of living on their own and get a global perspective,” she says. “It is of huge value when they are out there to apply for careers, locally and internationally, and can bring that [experience] to the workplace.”

Now completing his fourth year at Beedie in business marketing, Mr. Glaesser says the biggest bonus of working abroad was his new level of confidence. “It was the first time working in any big organization and seeing how it works from the inside,” he recalls. “For me, it was really valuable.”

excerpt from The Globe and Mail, by JENNIFER LEWINGTON

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By Sean Coughlan, BBC News education correspondent

UKBA

Students have drawn up a protest petition to highlight the delays to processing visas

Overseas students in the UK are complaining they are trapped in a legal limbo by visa delays which mean they do not have the right either to stay or go back home.

Students claim they have waited for up to five months without their passports.

Hundreds have signed a protest petition claiming their “basic rights” are being denied by delays in processing visas.

The UK Border Agency said applications from students would be “worked through by the end of the summer”.

study

The National Union of Students (NUS) says this is becoming a “serious problem” and a “complete outrage” which puts at risk the ability of UK universities to attract overseas students.

A US student, Jordan Junge, who has just finished a £17,000 masters degree at the London School of Economics, says she has been waiting for almost five months for her visa to be processed and her documents returned.

Students should come to the UK to study, not work. That is why this April we stopped the automatic right for students to stay on and find work after their studies”

UK Border Agency

The student from Colorado says that this became “extremely stressful” when her grandmother was taken seriously ill and her parents told her to come home.

“Even if you order a pizza from Domino’s you can track its progress – but I’ve no idea about what’s happening to my passport.”

She says that there are other students who have children that they cannot get back home to see.

Ms Junge says she wanted to carry out further study at the LSE which would have involved travelling outside the UK this summer, but the uncertainty over her documents is making this “very unlikely”.

And she says that the tightening of the student visa system is putting off many other US students.

Along with other students, she was particularly concerned about the inability to communicate with UKBA, and so far the information she has obtained has come via her MP.

‘Deplorable service’

A Canadian PhD student in Edinburgh, who submitted documents at the beginning of April, says the delays have been “incredibly stressful and distressing” – and she is still uncertain whether she will be able to catch her flight home in a few weeks.

An online petition, signed by more than 600 people, says “the deplorable quality of service provided by the UKBA ill befits a nation like the United Kingdom”.

The overseas students who have been caught in this delay are those who have finished their courses and have put in applications to remain longer in the UK.

Vulnerable students are now stuck in the UK unable to work, unable to go home to their families and unable to get on with their lives”

National Union of Students

These post-study visa applications cost more than £500 to process and require students to get their fingerprints taken and to submit their passports.

The visa rules changed in April – and it has been suggested that this prompted an increase in applications ahead of the deadline which has left individuals caught in a bureaucratic backlog.

A South American student, who has just finished a PhD, told the BBC that it had put students in an impossible position.

He said students could not apply for jobs in the UK because they had no proof of their right to be in the country – and they could not go abroad or return home for work because they had no passports to travel.

A UKBA spokesperson said: “Students should come to the UK to study not work. That is why this April we stopped the automatic right for students to stay on and find work after their studies.

“The remaining applications will be worked through by the end of the summer and applicants will be contacted once a decision is made.

“Anyone who wishes to withdraw their application and have their documents returned can do so by contacting the immigration inquiry bureau.”

But Daniel Stevens, international students’ officer for the NUS, said: “It is clear that delays to the processing of visa applications is becoming a serious problem.

“International students are facing the direct financial and emotional costs of an under-resourced UKBA.

“Having paid thousands of pounds in visa application fees and after facing a raft of bureaucratic procedures, their applications have now been put in put in a pile with little hope of being processed in a timely manner.

“As a result, vulnerable students are now stuck in the UK unable to work, unable to go home to their families and unable to get on with their lives.”

James Pitman, UK managing director at the Study Group international education firm, said: “We need to make the UK as appealing an education destination as possible – hold-ups like these do not help.”

Earlier this year, a group of UK universities called on the government to remove overseas students from immigration figures.

But the government rejected such suggestions, saying that targets to cut immigration could be achieved without “fiddling the figures”.

Have you been caught in these visa delays?

I have submitted my documents end of February and sent the biometric details in the beginning of April. It has been almost 5 months now and I have not heard from UKBA yet. My grandfather is currently in very bad health condition which is quickly getting worse. I’m planning to see him as soon as I get my documents back, just hoping I won’t be too late… My education at Edinburgh University cost my family over £70,000 (4 years of BEng and 1 year of MSc) – every penny paid from our pockets. If I had to choose where to go for studies abroad now, it wouldn’t be the UK.

Konstantin, Belarus

I have had to bear a lot of professional and personal losses due to the delays in the visa processing by UKBA. I have had to miss a couple of international conferences , which I could not attend because of the sole reason, my passport is held by UKBA for this PSW application processing. Networking is an important part of research career and inability to attend the conferences is indeed a great professional loss. I had great respect for the standards set by this country but this treatment by UKBA at the end of my student life in UK is greatly appalling and totally unacceptable.

Deepa, Sheffield

Shows a deplorably obtuse and short-sighted outlook. You simply cannot improve the government and economy of the United Kingdom if you encourage the best and brightest young minds in these fields to leave the country upon completion of their studies. I am an American, constantly teased about our “special relationship” with the UK yet I have seen no evidence of anything more than a cold dismissal and frigid jingoism with door after door being swiftly closed shut and my wish to remain in this country becoming an almost laughably naive hope

Louis, New Jersey/ currently in London

Coming to UK for the most important part of my education life is the worst decision I have ever made in my life. It is easy for UKBA, government, PM to change the rules to make things hard for student. At the same time, risking the country’s reputation. At least, I wouldn’t spend a huge amount of money for my kids to come here in the future.

Steve, Kuala Lumpur

I personally have been waiting since 26th of January, when I applied for my visa. I tried contacting the UKBA which basically just asked me to wait till 26th of July. I was told that the time limit for an application is 6 months and that I should call them after the 26th if I don’t receive it by then. I come from India. I must say even Indian authorities are more efficient than UKBA.

Prasanna, London

It has been the most frustrating period as I cannot travel outside the UK. I have several research projects and unable to utilise my research funds as it involves travelling outside the UK. My local MP wrote to the UKBA about the progress of my application but the reply from UKBA was even more frustrating as the letter from MP indicates that ‘due to the sheer volume of applications no indication can be given as to when your application will be dealt with’.

Shahina , Southampton

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When we signed up for study abroad, we were told in so many words what to expect and what the experience was going to be like. We were told that we would visit historical sites, monuments and museums while also getting the opportunity to experience a different culture while earning college credit.

Well, after embarking on the journey and making it home, I can tell you that those things are true, but what it is more difficult to explain is just how memorable and life changing study abroad can be.

While I’m not going to sit here and say that I suddenly discovered a solution to all my problems while drinking a beer in London or found the meaning of life while sipping on wine in France, I will tell you that the things I saw are something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

The study abroad I went on was a 10-day trip themed after D-Day, the 1944 Allied invasion of France. Our journey took us over the Atlantic into London, down to Portsmouth, across the English Channel into Normandy and ended in Paris.

Beach of Normandy

While on the beaches of Normandy, I had a great epiphany that I think is worth sharing, one that I think encapsulates the thing that makes study abroad so valuable. What I realized was that no amount of reading, lectures, movies or any other retelling of an event can come close to actually experiencing it for your self.

Only when I was standing on the damp sand of Omaha Beach, staring from the water’s edge back to the towering cliffs, did the magnitude of what the Americans accomplished really sink in. Only when I was standing in a crater on Pointe du Hoc did the true power of the navel warships I had read about truly make sense.

My point is that there is no way to completely explain the feelings and thoughts a place will evoke without being there. That is the true magic of study abroad. Through the program, you can go to those places, experience those emotions and create those memories.

So to those of you who are considering study abroad, I hope this helps inform your decision. Remember, you only live once so get out there and see what the world has to offer.

Source: The Lion’s Roar

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 “Developed economies are already highly dependent on universities and if anything that reliance will increase”

                                                                                                                                                                     David WillettsUK universities minister

At the beginning of the last century, the power of nations might have been measured in battleships and coal.

 Aalto University in Finland is teaching Chinese students in English

In this century it’s as likely to be graduates.

There has been an unprecedented global surge in the numbers of young people going to university.

Among the developed OECD countries, graduation rates have almost doubled since the mid-1990s.

China’s plans are not so much an upward incline as a vertical take-off.

In 1998, there were only about a million students in China. Within a decade, it had become the biggest university system in the world.

Figures last month from China’s education ministry reported more than 34 million graduates in the past four years. By 2020 there will be 35.5 million students enrolled.

The president of Yale described this as the fastest such expansion in human history.

Inextricably linked with this expansion has been another phenomenon – the globalisation of universities.

Global networks

There are more universities operating in other countries, recruiting students from overseas, setting up partnerships, providing online degrees and teaching in other languages than ever before.

Chinese students are taking degrees taught in English in Finnish universities; the Sorbonne is awarding French degrees in Abu Dhabi; US universities are opening in China and South Korean universities are switching teaching to English so they can compete with everyone else.

Students graduate in South Korea, 2011
Capturing the moment: South Korea has turned itself into a global player in higher education

It’s like one of those board games where all the players are trying to move on to everyone else’s squares.

It’s not simply a case of western universities looking for new markets. Many countries in the Middle East and Asia are deliberately seeking overseas universities, as a way of fast-forwarding a research base.

In Qatar, the purpose-built Education City now has branches of eight overseas universities, with more to follow. Shanghai is set to be another magnet for international campuses.

‘Idea capitals’

This global network is the way of the future, says John Sexton, president of New York University.

“There’s a world view that universities, and the most talented people in universities, will operate beyond sovereignty.

“Much like in the renaissance in Europe, when the talent class and the creative class travelled among the great idea capitals, so in the 21st century, the people who carry the ideas that will shape the future will travel among the capitals.

“But instead of old European names it will be names like Shanghai and Abu Dhabi and London and New York. Those universities will be populated by those high-talent people.”

New York University, one of the biggest private universities in the US, has campuses in New York and Abu Dhabi, with plans for another in Shanghai. It also has a further 16 academic centres around the world.

Mr Sexton sets out a different kind of map of the world, in which universities, with bases in several cities, become the hubs for the economies of the future, “magnetising talent” and providing the ideas and energy to drive economic innovation.

Universities are also being used as flag carriers for national economic ambitions – driving forward modernisation plans.

For some it’s been a spectacularly fast rise. According to the OECD, in the 1960s South Korea had a similar national wealth to Afghanistan. Now it tops international education league tables and has some of the highest-rated universities in the world.

The Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea was only founded in 1986 – and is now in the top 30 of the Times Higher’s global league table, elbowing past many ancient and venerable institutions.

It also wants to compete on an international stage so the university has decided that all its graduate programmes should be taught in English rather than Korean.

Spending power

Philip Altbach, director of the Centre for International Higher Education, based in Boston College in the United States, says governments want to use universities to upgrade their workforce and develop hi-tech industries.

Sheikh Hamid Bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Francois Fillon open the Sorbonne in Abu Dhabi
The first French-speaking university in the Gulf, a branch of the Sorbonne, was opened last month

“Universities are being seen as a key to the new economies, they’re trying to grow the knowledge economy by building a base in universities,” says Professor Altbach.

Families, from rural China to eastern Europe, are also seeing university as a way of helping their children to get higher-paid jobs. A growing middle-class in India is pushing an expansion in places.

Universities also stand to gain from recruiting overseas. “Universities in the rich countries are making big bucks,” he says. This international trade is worth at least $50 billion a year, he estimates, the lion’s share currently being claimed by the US.

If there are parallels with economic and political rivalries, the US remains the academic superpower, not least because of the raw wealth of its top universities.

Despite its investments taking a hammering from the financial crisis, Harvard sits on an endowment worth $27.4bn and spends more than $3.5bn a year.

It means that for every one dollar spent by a leading European university such as the London School Economics, Harvard can spend almost $10.

Even the poorest Ivy League university in the US will have an endowment bigger than the gross domestic product of many African countries.

Facebook generation

The success of the US system is not just about funding, says Professor Altbach. It’s also because it’s well run and research is effectively organised. “Of course there are lots of lousy institutions in the US, but overall the system works well.”

The status of the US system has been bolstered by the link between its university research and developing hi-tech industries. Icons of the internet-age such Google and Facebook grew out of US campuses.

“Developed economies are already highly dependent on universities and if anything that reliance will increase,” says the UK’s universities minister, David Willetts.

And he says that globalisation in higher education is increasing in pace and “going to go a lot further”.

“The rapid increase in international students, not just in the UK but in other countries with high quality universities, is a case in point.

“Universities are internationalised along other fronts too – for example, in the research that they do, which often has greater impact when conducted in collaboration with institutions in other countries.”

University of laptop

Technology, much of it hatched on university campuses, is also changing higher education and blurring national boundaries.

Online services such as Apple’s iTunes U gives public access to lectures from more than 800 universities and more than 300 million have been downloaded. And where else would a chemistry lecture get to be a chart topper?

NYU Abu Dhabi
New York University in Abu Dhabi: The university’s president says this is the era of “global networks”

It raises many questions too. What are the expectations of this Facebook generation? They might have degrees and be able to see what is happening on the other side of the world, but will there be enough jobs to match their ambitions?

Who is going to pay for such an expanded university system? And what about those who will struggle to afford a place?

But Mr Willetts says that globalisation is having a “positive impact” for students, academics and employers.

And Professor Sexton remains optimistic that globalism will be about co-operation as much as competition and he summons up the forward-looking attitude of immigrants arriving in New York.

“The immigrant is always looking forwards to a better tomorrow, not looking back to a golden age.”

graph of graduation rates
Taken from BBC News, By Sean Coughlan

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