In Autumn 2009 two Aberdeen Business School ambassadors, Management students Caitlin Bissett and Alexander Hood, went to the University of Boston, a new link for Aberdeen Business School.
Boston University is located at the heart of the city and is well established as an academic hub in the USA. With a teaching body including Nobel Prize Winners and a truly international student body, a semester there is guaranteed to be a rich and rewarding experience.
The University of Boston is one of the few fee paying exchange programmes available at ABS. However, because of their academic success in first year, both Caitlin and Alexander were awarded a scholarship of $4000 from Aberdeen Business School to assist with their tuition fees. Not only did the students feel they gained huge personal benefit from the experience, but academically they both achieved top grades in a range of interesting courses, including ‘An Introduction to American Management.'
The University of Boston is just one example of a study exchange offered by Aberdeen Business School. There has been an increase in the range and number of these opportunities over the last 4 or 5 years and now students can participate in a one or two semester exchange on almost all ABS courses as an integrated part of their degree.
Initially Aberdeen Business School concentrated its efforts on establishing student exchanges through the LLP Erasmus programme, an EU funded programme, which also provides a grant designed to help with living costs. There is still a perception that Erasmus and study exchanges are for languages students. This is not the case at all! With an increasing number of courses taught in English across Europe, Aberdeen Business School has deliberately sought partners who teach and assess in English so that students without language skills can still take advantage of this fantastic experience. We've seen Retail students in Turkey, Tourism students in Finland, Communication students in The Netherlands, Law students in Denmark - to name but a few!
Having said that, most, if not all European partners do offer introductory courses into the local language, which we encourage our students to make use of. Often the students who fear language learning the most come to realise that being in an environment where they can actually use their knowledge is a much more positive and beneficial experience than what they remember from school!
In addition to European Erasmus exchanges, Aberdeen Business School is now expanding partner agreements to institutions outside of the EU. Along with Caitlin and Alexander, those venturing across the Atlantic for the first time last semester included two Law students to the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma and a Management student to the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.
This academic year has also seen the initiation of a new venture which Aberdeen Business School is very proud of. The H.O.T.E.L. Atlantis Programme is a transatlantic degree programme co-funded by U.S. Department of Education's Funds for Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE) and the European Commission's Directorate General for Education and Culture (DG EAC). Within this programme, International Hospitality Management students from Aberdeen Business School will spend one semester in Turku, Finland and one whole academic year at Oklahoma State University. On completion of the 4 year programme, which also includes a summer work placement in the USA, students will be awarded a double undergraduate degree from Robert Gordon University and Oklahoma State University. The first two students on the programme, Sarah Hulse and Boriss Danilevics, departed for Finland, the first overseas part of the programme, at the start of this year.
So what are the benefits of studying abroad? Sun? Travel? A Mediterranean boyfriend? Well, maybe those too - but study abroad gives students that extra something which will stay with them their whole lives. Returning students don't see ‘problems', they see ‘challenges'. Feedback from employers has demonstrated that companies highly value graduates who have done something different, something a little bit challenging, something that makes them stand out from the crowd and gain a little more maturity. In today's global world, patience and an appreciation for other cultures and customs goes a long way in the business environment. Aberdeen Business School firmly believes that these opportunities combined with a vocational education and the chance to undertake a period of work experience in industry firmly equips our graduates with a broad spectrum of skills, knowledge and capabilities to face a range of challenge in their future careers.
Of course study abroad is not always easy, but that is all part of the experience and there are, of course, support mechanisms in place. Those who embrace the opportunity as a challenge come home knowing that they have done something that they can be immensely proud of.
So are there any draw backs to study abroad? Well, sometimes our students just don't want to come back.....