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Source: Flo Dahm

Those fortunate enough to have attended a tertiary institution can attest to it being some of the most fulfilling and challenging days of their lives.

Depending on the environment and nature of the institution, higher education is about so much more than textbook learning and the anxiety of exam season – it’s a meeting of the minds, and an opportunity for young people to take their first steps towards finding their purpose.

Creating opportunities for students to travel abroad and experience how other institutions operate is an important part of this process, and offers insight into the world we live in from different vantage points.

Exchange programmes ensure its students are not only ‘book smart’, but also have an awareness of the industries which surround them and aim to go beyond the lecture hall. Here are some of the ways students exchange programmes help young people develop their careers.

1. Enriching the academic experience for students

Student exchange programmes allow students to experience how other institutions operate within different market conditions, broadening their perspectives of the world around them and enhancing the value of the qualifications they’re studying toward.

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Students who participate in student exchange programmes have the opportunity to share knowledge with like-minded people from different countries and cultures, which enriches their understanding of theoretical concepts and how these exist in the real world.

“Students who have participated in student exchange programmes have highlighted the value of exploring the world beyond the lecture hall to gain practical insight into their chosen industries,” says Thys de Beer, Senior Brand Strategy Lecturer and Manager: Academic Projects and Collaborations at Vega School.

“By being forced out of their comfort zones the students soon start to experience the world through a different lens, which not only allows them to explore international opportunities but also become more resilient.”

2. Cross-border collaboration adds value to curriculums

“Working with like-minded institutions around the world is a huge asset when it comes to nurturing the next generation of creative, strategic and entrepreneurial talent,” says Dr Carla Enslin, Head of Strategy & New Business Development at Vega School. “In this way, students are exposed to different environments and ways of thinking, that will ultimately help inform better-rounded worldviews and allow them to add real value to their chosen industries.”

3. Sharing international best practice

Importantly, student exchange programmes are based on shared objectives for the future of the global creative industry; they also allow higher education institutions to grow their international profiles and adopt new ways of thinking, which ensures the continuous evolution of the schools’ curricula to align with international best practice.

“Events like the WE ARE Conference at The Fontys Academy for Creative Industries, which took place in 2016, provides both students and the school with access to an international stage,” says de Beer. “It focuses on giving leading international schools a platform to share their thinking and expertise with FontysACI students as well as an opportunity for school representatives to network and build future collaborations.”