Exchange and International Opportunities
by Michelle Li
One of the most incredible opportunities that you can take advantage of at University is learning abroad. Of course, COVID-19 makes international opportunities much more limited, however we still think that this information is helpful for future, when international opportunities are more prevalent. In a nutshell, exchange is a way to earn academic credit whilst living, travelling and studying overseas. UNSW partners with over 300 Universities globally for you to pick from. Some of the best things about Exchange is that you can go for up to a year in almost any country of your choosing and not add any extra time to your degree, all whilst living and breathing like a local student.
How does exchange work
Picking a University
With 300+ partner universities, it definitely isn’t an easy task on deciding the top six universities (to apply for in your application) that you will want to go to. There are three key things to consider when deciding on your Uni preferences:
1. What do I want out of exchange?
Think about the top 3 things that you want to gain out of your experience. Some examples include:
- A complete cultural immersion: Pick a location that you’re unfamiliar with but are eager to learn about the local culture. You might just want a complete getaway and a fresh start so try something new! This could simply be somewhere where you don’t know the language or know local customs.
- Academics: Typically, universities specialise in certain areas whether this be research, an academic field, or even sports. Make sure that you find a university which reflects your interests. So, if you want to be challenged in your academic studies, then look for a university which specialises in the field of your study and offers different learning opportunities than the ones at UNSW.
- Travel: Of course, whilst you’re overseas you’ll definitely be travelling no matter what. However, some locations of universities make it easier to fit in those weekend trips so you can go around to explore more. Think about how much you value being able to travel to new places. For example, going somewhere in Europe will make it a lot easier to visit new countries by simply catching a train. On the other hand, a country like America has fewer neighbouring countries and many of those require a plane ride.
- Social life: You will undoubtedly meet a lot of people overseas, however some universities offer more opportunities to meet local students whether it be through living on-campus, having organised social events or uni traditions which gets everyone involved.
- Campus life: In other words, the vibe of the uni. Some can be described as more artsy, more academic, more social, more sports-oriented. Do a bit of research on the internet and to find this out, and which aligns with you.
2. How much do I want to spend on exchange?
It is extremely important to budget the maximum amount that you will want to spend on your Exchange experience. Whilst I believe that you can go to any place of your choosing, some locations are much more expensive to live in than others, which would then require a sacrifice on other activities (i.e. travel).
3. How competitive is the Uni?
Don’t let your WAM deter or influence the universities you decide to apply for. To go on exchange, you need a 65 (Credit) WAM minimum. However, the actual competitiveness of the universities that you can apply for simply depends on supply and demand. There is a set number of Exchange placements that UNSW agrees on with the partner uni which determines the number of students that will be offered a spot. Hence, if more students apply, then typically you will need a more competitive WAM. The Exchange Office has a tier system which segments the competitiveness of a uni into 3 levels. My best advice would still be to apply for the university you most want to go to as your top preferences despite whether or not you might have the WAM needed, but make sure that you have 1 or 2 universities with lower WAM requirements which serve as a “safety net.”
Applying for exchange can be very confusing at first. UNSW uses a system called Endeavour which you’ll be very familiar with after going through the Exchange application process.
This website holds the step-by-step process on how to apply for Exchange: https://student.unsw.edu.au/exchange
One of the tasks you will be required to do is “course match” your Exchange subjects. In this, you will have to list the subjects that you plan on completing overseas and match it with the relevant course at UNSW. It is a way to ensure that you have enough subjects to study overseas to which you can gain academic credit for. An extremely helpful tool to do this can be found here: https://www.exchangecourse.unsw.edu.au/ This website compiles all the course matches of previous Exchange students to give you a list of courses that were approved previously. Please note that this list is limited and is not inclusive of all possible course matches.
Funding your exchange
Exchange won’t be the cheapest venture you do whilst at university, but it is 100% worth it. Every month, it is suggested that you budget approximately $3000. This includes food, accommodation, personal expenses etc. The actual amount you spend will vastly differ depending on the location you go to but as an average, that should be what you’re aiming for. Besides your own personal savings, there are various other ways to fund your exchange.
If you want to go to Asia, the government has introduced an initiative called the New Colombo Plan which encourages students to go study in an Asian country. For this, you may be eligible to apply in which you can receive a financial grant. There are also other scholarships which UNSW offers for academic merit and equity.
Other international opportunities
Gaining a global experience during your university life is not just limited to student exchange. Below are several other ways to learn abroad (plus a relevant link for more information):
· Global Business Practicum (COMM3020): Study and work overseas in a specified location and gain academic credit.
· Short courses: If going for such an extended period of time doesn’t appeal to you, many Universities abroad offer short Summer or Winter courses which are typically one-month long.
· Internships or volunteer: There are many organisations which offer internship placements overseas. It’s a great way to build your professional experience whilst gaining international exposure!
· Non-Partner University Exchange: Technically, you have the option to go on Exchange to almost every University overseas. However, it is not guaranteed that you will be able to gain academic credit for it and the approval process may be more difficult.
Given that international opportunities in a pandemic are infeasible, UNSW has opened up a new virtual exchange program, where you’re able to choose from around 60 online academic courses at the VSE offered from 9 universities on 3 different continents.
View the existing courses available at http://vse.apru.org/academics/ to see what is available for you. To apply, register your interest at http://unsw.aglobal.education/st-application 2 weeks before the deadline instilled by the host institution. You can view each host institution deadline here: http://vse.apru.org/academics/#course.
To access more information, visit https://vse.apru.org/.