Nanyang Technological University's Chinese Heritage Center. Photo by: Flickr user "kabilen sornum"

Exchange Students

STUDYING ABROAD is a major part of the Macalester experience for many students, with three out of five doing so during their four years at Mac.

However, because Macalester allows its students to take their financial aid with them when they study abroad, the cost to the college for this popular feature is up to $5 million a year and growing. (It shot up to $5.4 million last year because of a bumper crop of juniors.) Provost Kathy Murray asked herself how the college could keep providing an international study experience without continuing to grow this cost.

Luckily, because Murray had administrative experience at less financially favored institutions, she knew of a great compromise: Exchange programs between U.S. and international colleges.

Sciences Po in France and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore are the first institutions Macalester has established exchanges with. The relationships kicked off last spring, when Noah Rosen ’12 studied at Sciences Po, a political science/international studies college in Paris. This fall Chris Krapu ’13 is studying at Nanyang University, a science and engineering college. Meanwhile, three Nanyang students and one Sciences Po student are at Mac this fall; three Mac students are headed to France in the spring.

Although International Center director Paul Nelson calls Sciences Po “an easier sell” with Mac students, Nanyang was an intentional early exchange choice, especially designed for physics and chemistry majors. “Science students have heavily sequenced programs and therefore it’s hard for them to study abroad,” says Murray. “This allows them to do that without losing time.” It was a bonus that Nanyang had many years of experience with exchange relationships, Murray says.

But Murray’s plans are far more ambitious than these two colleges. She’s talking with Leiden University in the Netherlands and Tel-Hai College in Israel, with many more, she hopes, to come. Says Murray, “Someday we should have 20 of these exchanges in place.”

October 15 2012

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