Role and Methods of Student Exchanges in Internationalizing Management Education

By Vertesi, Catherine | Journal of Business Administration, Fall 1992 | Go to article overview

Role and Methods of Student Exchanges in Internationalizing Management Education


Vertesi, Catherine, Journal of Business Administration


1.0 INTRODUCTION

Although North American students have been studying abroad in large numbers since the 1950s, they have rarely been an effective force in internationalizing the classroom or the faculty in our major business schools. The very existence of committees and foundations to promote internationalism is evidence of the failure. This does not mean that we should stop, or not start these kinds of programs in our institutions. Rather we must rethink and restructure our present and future programs. Once a faculty makes the commitment to "internationalize," then student exchanges and study abroad programs can be a potent force in its transformation. Historically, Canadian institutions have lagged far behind the United States in encouraging their students to go abroad as part of their studies. This may be linked to the inherent differences between the two approaches to higher education. In Canada, universities are public, operate in a sellers market, and until recently, expected very little in the way of long term support from their alumni. This makes students and their desires a low priority in program planning and development.

The private institutions in the United States however, face a completely different environment. Strong competition for students and active student recruitment programs encouraged the development of many initiatives to attract the best and the brightest. There is no doubt that some of the original international activities were initiated by true visionaries in several institutions, but once these new opportunities for students were offered by one school, others were often forced to follow suit. The largest and most credible public institutions in the U.S. tend to mimic the private schools and have also responded to the expectation that students have the opportunity to travel as part of their education.

Liberal Arts and some other specialized programs such as Architecture became involved in international programs very early. Historians and political scientists have always recognized the benefit of source documents to themselves and their students. However, business schools have moved more cautiously. The wholesale embracing of the idea of internationalism is a fairly new phenomenum. In addition to curriculum and research change, interest in educational exchange for business students has grown enormously in the past ten years. Whether tradition, competition for student perks, or the recognition of the global future of the world's economy is the driving force behind a business institution's involvement in exchange programs is unimportant; the negligible impact that the students' experiences have had on our classrooms is consequential.

I personally have been involved with Study Abroad and Exchange Programs (S.A.E.P.) at both the graduate and undergraduate levels since the early eighties. A more formalized dedicated resource structure did not begin until 1990. At UBC we have three major types of programs in which students participate: direct no-fee student-for-student exchange programs, self-financed full term study abroad, and self-financed UBC-staffed summer school abroad. The increase in numbers is quite dramatic and may be of interest to you.

I have had a number of opportunities to observe American, Canadian, Asian, and European students on study abroad programs and have spent considerable time with program administrators from many different countries. My approach has been influenced by my observations and may be of interest because I am in the unusual position of a faculty member who has become very involved with the international program administration network.

2.0 WHY ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE MATTERS

Two basic organizational structures predominate Study Abroad and Exchange Programs in business schools throughout the world.

2.1 Centralized Model

The first and most common administrative model in North America is a highly centralized Study Abroad office usually funded from the central administration such as the Registrar's or President's office.

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