Not All Classrooms Have Four Walls: Semester Exchange Programmes

Not All Classrooms Have Four Walls: Semester Exchange Programmes

Semester Exchange Programme is one of the feats which the notion called 'Globalisation' has accomplished. Globalisation has shrunk this far-flung world to a global village. It has brought this dazzling opportunity for the most valuable asset of the world,i.e., students. In this intense competition era, pursuing a semester at a foreign institute adds up to the student's credentials, taking him a notch higher than others. By getting exposed to various cultures, a student broadens his social perspective and also gets to know how different countries practise the courses.

Before we delve into the prospects of NIT Rourkela, let us walk through some of the important benefits Semester Exchange Programmes have got to offer:

BENEFITS

Semester exchange programmes foster a multitude of benefits. Many different exchange programmes let students visit, study, work or volunteer in other premier institutes in foreign countries.

These schemes present incredible opportunities for college students to explore the world while staying on track to graduate. One such exchange program provides the students with a wide range of benefits, making it a must-have feature of any reputed institute.

Benefits of Semester Exchange Program

EDUCATIONAL

  • Develops an understanding of different cultural and community perspectives
  • Provides awareness about different and innovative approaches to learning
  • Improves analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Refines language skills

PERSONAL

  • Enhancement of self-confidence, self-esteem, and maturity
  • Hones people skills
  • Embeds a tremendous sense of accomplishment

LONG TERM

  • The skills developed during the program help the students throughout their career to succeed in challenging times

THE ERASMUS MUNDUS SEMESTER EXCHANGE RESEARCH SCHOLARSHIP

NIT Rourkela had been a part of the Erasmus Mundus Programme with aspiring students applying for the coveted scholarship to broaden their horizons by studying at a European University, for a stipulated period.

Starting with the necessary details, Erasmus Mundus is a foreign exchange program that gives funding for different programmes to maintain equilibrium between the educational process at the Asian institutes and the European ones. A group of institutes from Asian and European countries has a programme which is generally for the exchange of students and professors and is applied to the European Commission for funding. However, out of many such programmes under the Erasmus Mundus Exchange programme, NIT Rourkela was part of only two programmes, namely 'Heritage' (ending in 2016) and 'Namaste' (ending in 2017).

PROCEDURE AND ELIGIBILITY

A student applies directly to the committee as the home university does not control the website. The website demands specific certificates. During the application process, there are certain certificates that only the Institute can provide, one of which is the language certificate.

The general guidelines for applying to these programmes remain to be almost similar to other foreign internship programmes.

The Institute had worked out a deal with these universities that a student studying in NIT Rourkela has a good hold over the English language. Instead of giving the TOEFL, a student could just apply for this language certificate issued by the Home Institute along with the bonafide certificate.

There were no prerequisites mentioned in the programme. However, a CGPA of 8 and above was the eligibility criteria set by NIT Rourkela to apply for this programme.

HOW ARE THE CREDITS FOR DIFFERENT COURSES TRANSFERRED?

There is an MoU undertaken by all the institutes that when a student goes to a European institute, whatever credits he acquires has to be transferred when he comes back. Learning agreement is also signed by the home and the host institute that if a student takes a particular number of courses of a particular number of credits, our Institute assures that these credits will be transferred not to lose his semester.

The students shall continue the enrollment at their home university and pay tuition fees to the home university during the exchange. Moreover, the host university shall waive application, enrollment, and tuition fees and provides a stipend for the exchange students.

More rules can be found in the pdf in the link given below

https://aai.tecnico.ulisboa.pt/files/sites/52/nit-rourkela-ist.pdf

ALUMNUS VIEWS

Team Monday Morning (MM) had contacted an alumnus who was a part of this prestigious Erasmus Mundus Heritage Programme, back in 2014- Sai Kumar Dwivedi (SKD)- Dual Degree, Computer Science and Engineering, graduate of 2016, was an Exchange Research Student at Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia.

MM: How did this program benefit you both in terms of both academic and non-academic aspects?

SKD: Academically, you get to work with world-class faculties and high-end research facilities. You can take any course from any department, unlike the fixed electives you get in NIT Rourkela. Non-academically you grow as a person by meeting and understanding people from different cultures.

MM: Did you face any particular issue while adjusting credits of that semester at NIT Rourkela?

SKD: I had no problems adjusting the credits, but one has to take enough course credits related to the department. Consulting with your HOD and faculty supervisor is recommended.

MM: Do you recommend having the programme back again?

SKD: I would surely recommend having this program back because it gives you global exposure with many personal and professional growth opportunities.

Team MM had also interviewed Sarthak Rout (2016 Dual Degree, Mechanical Engineering graduate) and Rahul Kumar (Electronics and Communication Engineering graduate) back then after they completed their exchange programme in 2014. The link to the respective interviews can be found below-

Sarthak Rout-

https://mondaymorning.nitrkl.ac.in/archives/index.php/intern/internship/intern-view/3020-the-french-connection-sarthak-rout

Rahul Kumar-

https://mondaymorning.nitrkl.ac.in/archives/index.php/intern/internship/intern-view/3526-the-erasmus-of-nitr-rahul-kumar

The alumni envision establishing their alma mater in India's top 10 engineering institutions and the top 200 universities of the world worldwide. The 7 pillars or 7 goals of Vision 2025: NIT Rourkela has been embodied.

On a broader domain the 7 crux points which were elaborately detailed upon are as follows:

  • Cutting-edge research output
  • World-Class Faculty
  • World Class Pedagogy and curriculum for 21st-century skills
  • Industry engagement and entrepreneurship eco-system
  • Scale alumni relation and resource generation
  • Brand and image revitalization
  • Development office and execution excellence

However, the Erasmus Mundus programme constituted time-bound projects that ended after its last programme’s (Namaste) completion in 2017. Such type of programmes are highly essential in the present time that would hold the significance of various pillars of Vision 2025: NIT Rourkela atop, like Cutting Edge Research Output and Brand Revitalization.

Let us hop into some of the similar trailblazing programmes that other premier technical institutes of the nation encompass:

ACTIVE SEMESTER EXCHANGE PROGRAMS IN OTHER PREMIER INSTITUTES

IIT KHARAGPUR

Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur facilitates its students with various academic programmes, one of them being the Semester Away Program (SAP), which allows Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Doctoral students to spend up to one year doing research/coursework at a reputed university in India or abroad. According to SAP, a student has to pay tuition fees at either IIT Kharagpur or the host university. Apart from some MoU signed universities, individuals have to pay for their accommodation. Travelling costs also have to be borne by the students, except for any scholarship or grants.

NIT PATNA

National Institute of Technology, Patna, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Handong Global University, Pohang, South Korea to exchange students, faculty, and research. UNICEF will fund the first six-month of the exchange programme. Urban planning, urban development, infrastructure development, and electrical engineering are the research areas in focus. Apart from the substantial advantages, the exchange of students, faculty and exposure to the teaching practices in South Korea will have a tremendous impact on engineering education as being imparted at NIT Patna.

NIT WARANGAL

National Institute of Technology, Warangal is a member of the European Union for Promotion of Health through Research, Applied Technology, Education, and Science (EUPHRATES) in India Project, which offers 140 scholarships for nobilities to Europe. EUPHRATES is an ERASMUS MUNDUS Partnership (Action 2, Strand 1) project funded by the European Commission. There is also a scholarship covering subsistence (1000 EUR to 2500 EUR/month), travel costs, and insurance. NIT, Warangal has signed MoUs with 12 Europian Higher Education Institutes and 12 other Indian Institutes.

IIIT HYDERABAD

IIIT Hyderabad boasts of a Research Exchange Programme to promote world-class research at the institute through research collaboration with several leading universities worldwide such as MIT, University of California, Berkeley, etc. This exchange's key focus areas are Image Processing, VLSI and Embedded systems, Computer Graphics, etc. PhD Students enrolled at the institute are eligible for this program.

Recently, NIT Rourkela bagged an extraordinary feat by achieving an International collaborative project of worth 1.92 crores with the University of Regensburg, Germany under the Indo-German Partnership (IGP) programme, a collaborative programme of University Grants Commission (UGC), India and DAAD, Germany. Team MM had a one-a-one conversation with Dr Debayan Sarkar, Associate Professor from the Department of Chemistry, NIT Rourkela who is also the Principal Investigator of this project. He shed some light on the potential of student/faculty exchange through this programme and the other advantages it fosters for students and our institute as a whole;

From the German side, we have received requests that the German students will be enrolling in some courses of ours for two months. We have kept 3 Ph.D. student visits, 2 Post Doctorate, and every year 3 Masters student visits. But we need to work on the mobility issue in a meeting with Director Sir.

He adds,

The best part of this collaboration is mobility. Our students will get great exposure at their labs and by interacting with their faculty members. This will help them in achieving their dreams of higher studies at the University of Regensburg.

FINAL NOTE FOR WAY AHEAD

Semester Exchange Scholarship Programmes like Erasmus Mundus (in collaboration with the European Union) go a long way in bolstering the Institute's standing both on a national and an international scale. Such Programs also provide students with the golden chance of working with the State-of-the-Art R&D facilities, which are superior to what we have at Prime Indian Institutes, thereby enhancing the research efficiency.

With the Perception Score of NIT Rourkela taking a hit in the NIRF Rankings 2020, this seems to be an opportune time for the administration to encourage participation in more such International Study and Research Programmes. 

It is certainly the beginning. Prof. Mukesh Gupta (Department of Biotechnology and Medical Engineering) who co-ordinated the Erasmus Mundus programme for NIT Rourkela remains hopeful about such opportunities for the student populace soon once adequate funding and technicalities become favourable. Prof. Mukesh Kumar Gupta added:

We had other three projects, in addition to Heritage and Namaste. They're all completed. We recently got approval for another such exchange programme. It's a semester exchange programme with a duration of a single semester in collaboration with the Polytechnic University of Madrid, Spain under the Erasmus+KA01 Scheme. It has funding for a student and a faculty. 

With this note, one can certainly expect to see an influx of more such world-class programmes. Stay tuned to Monday Morning for updates on any upcoming Exchange and collaboration programme.

Team MM wishes to see the increase in global outreach of NIT Rourkela through different Semester Exchange programmes in the years to come.

DISCLAIMER: The content, opinions or views expressed on the Monday Morning's website and its social media platforms, including, but not limited to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages, are strictly the property of Monday Morning and represent the extensive research and work of the working team of respective academic year of Monday Morning and not those of the institute. The reports and statements published are consolidated from the collected background research and interviews. The institute's official statements can be found in the press releases published by the institute or via an RTI application.

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