Academic journal article Journal of Business Administration

Island Programs: The UBC Experience with a Summer Program in France

Academic journal article Journal of Business Administration

Island Programs: The UBC Experience with a Summer Program in France

Article excerpt


In 1991, the University of British Columbia (UBC), in conjunction with the University of Toronto (UT), launched a six-week summer program in International Business Studies. The program was held in Southern France during the months of July and August. Key aspects of the program were:

* the program was an island program (explained below)

* the program was held in July and August, allowing students to earn money for a full two months

* it was developed for undergraduate students studying Management/Commerce, who had completed at least one year of business studies.

* Students took two of three courses offered.(1)

* Courses were taught by faculty from UBC or UT.

* The program was a turnkey operation in the sense that facilities and travel were provided by a tour operator, Blyth & Company.(2) The Universities designed and delivered their academic program, but were free of the administrative burden of arranging facilities, accommodations, air travel, etc.

* Students and faculty both lived on campus.

The original program had 40 students (28 from UBC; 12 from UT). In 1992, the program was offered again and expanded. A total of 74 students attended (49 UBC; 23 UT), with students choosing two of eight courses.(3)


An island program is one where students travel in a group from their home university to a foreign country to study. Local students from the foreign nation are not mixed into the classes, classes are taught in the students' regular language of study (English in the case of UBC and UT), and faculty are from the home university. These programs are a less stressful experience for students, although at the cost of less cultural interaction.

At UBC, island programs are viewed as part of a portfolio of study abroad experiences. They are not intended to be the only or even the main solution to the challenge of providing students with an international study experience.(4) UBC offers 18 exchange programs in addition to its island program. In 1992, roughly 90 students were involved in exchange programs, and 49 were in the island program.

The island program is designed to serve three particular niches in the student body. First, UBC is a commuter school - the vast majority of the students still live at home with their parents while attending university. In many cases, students come from a culture where children, even adult children, are kept close to home and parental supervision. For these students (and their parents), an island program provides a useful transition to adult life. Indeed, in the 1991 student body, there were students who had never spent a single night away from home in their lives.(5) For some, meals were a particular challenge, as they had rarely eaten anything other than mom's/dad's cooking or at McDonalds. It should also be pointed out that at UBC, a significant portion of the student body are recent immigrants, especially from Asia. These students are already experiencing major cultural adjustment, and while anxious for new international experiences, they do not all have the energy needed to deal with language, etc. in yet another environment.

Second, the program is targeted at accounting students. The UBC accounting course of study is one requiring an interlocking sequence of mandatory courses. For an accounting student to study abroad during the regular school year, an extra year is required for graduation. The required accounting courses are simply not available abroad, and skipping one term in the sequence requires the student to miss a year. The UBC/UT island program was intentionally held in the summer so that accounting students could participate without interrupting their regular four year course of study. No accounting courses were offered, although there is no reason why such courses could not be offered (provided there would be sufficient total enrolment). …

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