International Education for All

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Tuesday, June 11, 2024
By Nick Harland
Photo by iStock/blackCAT
Studying abroad can be a transformative experience for those fortunate enough to access it. Here’s how three business schools are breaking down traditional barriers to international education.
  • As demand grows for business education with an international element, schools are striving to offer accessible and enriching international experiences for students.
  • As part of AACSB’s Innovations That Inspire 2024, business schools from around the world highlighted the measures they’re taking to widen access to international education.
  • We look at three schools whose initiatives are helping more people than ever before to study abroad.

Studying abroad. It’s an exotic idea that has probably appealed to most students at one time or another—but that doesn’t mean it’s accessible to everyone. Whether it’s the cost of tuition, visa issues, or simply the mental block of moving to a foreign country, the reality is that international education remains off limits for too many students.

Some schools are trying to change that.

As part of the AACSB’s Innovations That Inspire 2024, we heard from business schools globally about the initiatives they’re putting in place to widen access to international education. We discovered that by removing the traditional barriers to studying abroad, both schools and students are reaping the rewards of international study.

Short-Form Study Abroad at Villanova School of Business

When it comes to the obstacles preventing students from studying abroad, one consistently towers over the rest: money, money, money. According to one global student survey, 84 percent of participants identified tuition fees and living expenses as the single biggest challenge of international study.

One obvious way of widening access to foreign study is by reducing the cost. That was part of the rationale behind Villanova School of Business’s decision to launch its Maymester Abroad Program. Envisioned as a short-term, economical alternative to a semester abroad, the program normally takes place over two to four weeks in the May semester. VSB students have the opportunity to visit one of four international business hubs, where they will do a deep dive into a specialist topic:

  • Germany—Strategic Information Technology
  • Iceland—Global Operations and Supply Chain Management
  • Ireland—International Accounting
  • Australia—Global Political Economy of the Asia Pacific Region

Rather than spreading foreign study over several semesters, the Maymester Abroad Program is instead intended as a high-impact, intensive experience. Students get the cultural and educational benefits of studying abroad without the sometimes-prohibitive costs.

Studying abroad opens your mind to new cultures and different ways of doing things, but it also acts as a door to even more international experiences.

According to Shannon Wilson, associate director of communications at VSB, the program has also acted as a springboard for further international immersion. “We have seen this experience impact the academic goals and career objectives of our students by introducing them to new cultures and global industries,” she explains.

“Some students have gone on to study abroad for a full semester or complete an international internship, while still others have even added a language minor or international business major to their academic studies.”

And that’s often the case with studying abroad—not only does it open your mind to new cultures and different ways of doing things, but it also acts as a door to even more international experiences. It can justly be described as transformative.

Apprenticeships for All at Paris School of Business

In Europe, one business school is tackling the issue of affordability from a completely new angle. Paris School of Business (PSB) is eschewing traditional work-study programs in favor of state-supported apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships at PSB give international students the opportunity to study in Paris while working at one of PSB’s corporate partners. To find suitable opportunities, the school created an online portal run in conjunction with JobTeaser, a higher education careers service in France. It gives students access to thousands of job offers, career advice resources, and opportunities to attend events organized by recruiters.

While apprenticeships provide students with valuable work experience and a direct route into a specialist industry, the financial benefits are perhaps even more attractive. As a result of PSB’s apprenticeship drive, the 10,700 EUR (about 11,650 USD) tuition is essentially free for the school’s Master in Management (MiM) students, as they are covered by the apprenticeship provider. Since the scheme was introduced, the numbers speak for themselves:

  • 92 percent of all MiM students have found an apprenticeship.
  • Applications to the program have increased by 113 percent.
  • Job placement rate has increased by 8 percent.

It illustrates that making international education more accessible doesn’t just benefit enrolled students; it can also make schools more attractive to prospective students.

Promoting Global Sustainability at Shanghai University

The message from Shanghai University is clear. Without cross-border collaboration, tackling today’s global challenges—inequality, climate change, international conflict—becomes ever more difficult. And the university believes business schools can play a key role in bridging that divide.

As one of the world’s largest economies, China is in a unique position to tackle climate change. But it can only do so with the support of other countries. Shanghai University’s SILC Business School is attempting to instill change from the ground up by empowering students with the knowledge, tools, and—most importantly—desire to tackle the world’s burning global issues.

Business schools can play a central role in driving international cooperation.

SILC’s Global Sustainability Coordinator Program is the first step of that ambitious plan. Encompassing course reforms, lectures, field studies, overseas study tours, and internships, the program is designed to enhance students’ ability to leverage international resources for sustainable development.

The program begins at home but casts its gaze abroad. Curricula have been revamped to emphasize global collaboration and sustainability. Regular reviews provide students with the resources and roadmap they need to develop their global outlook. And they can even access special funding to attend sustainability-focused international conferences and study tours. It’s proof that business schools can play a central role in driving international cooperation.

Wherever we look, international education is providing students with transformative experiences that are leading to huge personal and professional development. It is opening doors, breaking down barriers, and fostering cross-border collaboration. International education for all? Not quite yet, but these pioneering schools are showing how it can be made more accessible than ever.

Nick Harland
Freelance Higher Education Writer
The views expressed by contributors to AACSB Insights do not represent an official position of AACSB, unless clearly stated.
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