Since the early 2000s, the number of student exchange programs between the University and its partner universities abroad has increased, primarily due to the current trend of globalization.
DLSU International Center (IC) Global Education Specialist Reodel Masilungan shares that back in 2000, most exchange students would come from Japan, Canada, or South Korea only. “Now, if you go down campus you will see exchange students coming from France, Germany, Finland, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, Australia, Mexico, Bolivia, and many others,” he compares. “It’s almost each continent of the world [that] is represented. It has become global.”
DLSU has recently sent students to Germany, Brunei, Malaysia, France, Japan, and South Korea. As a member of the ASEAN University Network Credit Transfer System (ACTS) as well as the ASEAN International Mobility for Students (AIMS), DLSU is able to send more students to nearby countries in the Southeast Asian region. Moreover, student exchange programs with other La Salle universities abroad have been prolific with the help of the International Association of La Salle Universities (IALU).
Processes and documents involved
To ensure that the host universities are at par with DLSU’s standards, Masilungan says that exchange programs are basically evaluated on four main criteria: English component, cost of living, safety, and reputation of the host university.
These criteria will vary depending on the host university a student wants to go to. In terms of the the English component, Masilungan explains that the target university must offer classes for international students in English, except for some schools that require language proficiency in native languages, specifically in Japan.
Regarding the cost of living, Masilungan explains that students sent to countries like Japan, United States, Canada, and France should expect a higher cost of living compared to the Philippines. “We’re trying to see if this is also viable for students,” he shares.
The location and reputation of the target school also play an important factor, Masilungan notes. “If the school is more reputable, [or] more known, [it is] much better for us,” he comments.
DLSU IC announces exchange programs open for application through posters and help desk announcements. Masilungan describes that the office also asks help from the vice deans and department chairs in scouting for students interested in applying for specific degree-oriented exchange programs.
After submitting the application forms, a panel interview is conducted to decide on the nominee for a slot in the program. “Once a student is nominated, we also nominate [an alternate] candidate just in case the nominated student cannot make it or changes their mind,” Masilungan adds.
The nominated student will then be required to accomplish a set of documents, which includes an acceptance letter, a certificate of eligibility, a transcript of records, and a student visa, among others. Afterwards, the student is tasked to match the courses to be taken under the exchange program to the courses under their program in DLSU. This is done to ensure that the courses they will be taking in the host university may be credited by their respective department or college.
On matters of course crediting and newfound experiences
Masilungan explains that before the start of the exchange program, he usually asks outbound students to review their flow chart. If the students’ courses in the host university do not match their courses in DLSU, Masilungan suggests that concerned students consult with their respective department chair or program coordinators on which courses they should prioritize abroad while on exchange. “As much as possible we want to have less delays, but at certain times, it will happen,” says Masilungan.
However, Masilungan shares that most of the students in the exchange programs are commonly not hindered by the possibility of becoming delayed or having their graduation pushed back to a later date. “It’s the experience that [the students are] after,” he explains, elaborating that outbound students usually return “with a broader sense of outlook [in their] study and perception.”
“Their experience abroad as an exchange student of DLSU broadened their horizons. It opened doors for them,” says Masilungan. “The delay to them is somehow not really that significant.”
For Dorothy Jarantilla (IV, AB-OCM), who was an exchange student in Ecole Supérieure des Sciences Commerciales d’Angers (ESSCA) in France, pursuing a European exchange program meant no courses or units would be credited in DLSU. “When you’re going on an exchange and you’re from [the College of Liberal Arts], not everything gets credited, but that didn’t stop me from going in an exchange because I really wanted to go,” she shares.
One of the reasons why Jarantilla decided to join the program was because it was a new experience for her and an opportunity to test her independence. “I wanted to be more exposed to living alone. It’s not the same if you’re in a different country so I wanted to experience the different culture,” she adds.
Furthermore, she explains how studying abroad is a different environment altogether. “I wasn’t used to how they were doing things there. Every day, I had different cases to study, [and] I had different group mates per class,” she describes. Jarantilla also had to study the French language during her stay in France for five months in 2014.
Kurt Famanila (III, AB-ISE), an outbound exchange student at the National University of Singapore, also encountered difficulties in matching the courses he took in Singapore to the courses offered in DLSU. “Apart from that, the rest went fine. The accommodation, food, daily expenses were all given to me under the generosity of Temasek Foundation in Singapore, for I was under a scholarship for my exchange,” he adds.
When asked why he decided to go on an exchange program, Famanila shares, “Given that my incumbent degree program is Bachelor of Arts in International Studies major in European Studies, it will be most beneficial for me to obtain a holistic view of my field.”
On the other hand, even inbound students are able to benefit tremendously from such exchange programs. Current inbound student Rangga Febryandi, exchange student from Muhammadiyah University of Yogyakarta in Indonesia, shares that he chose DLSU as his host university because Filipinos were fluent in English. He explains that he wanted to improve his English skills and learn more about Philippine culture. Febryandi’s exchange program began last January and will last until April this year.
Because of an educational environment that is becoming more globalized, the DLSU IC is continually establishing partnerships with various universities. The office is expecting more exchange programs in the future.