International Opportunities Testimonials

Education Without Borders: Experiences of Exchange Program

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By André Lemos

Director of Internationality at UnP

It’s old news in the market place that globalization is shaping the policy for many strategies.  There’s no longer any way you can map out a policy that overlooks the reality of this phenomenon – whether in a private company or the public sector. The economy, driving force of globalization, commands culture. Under this heading we find education, the basis of culture, resuming the path of internationalization. Here’s why: there are certain educational strategies that apply to the entire world.  The globalization of knowledge is once again the foundation for planning national policy, the stuff of academic articles and even grounds for mergers of institutions of higher learning with large foreign groups.  There is an expansion of the scale and value of international knowledge, or to put it another way, a collapse of borders is under way.

This development represents nothing more than knowledge returning to its original source – the source of “everyone.” Education has always been grounded in an international approach. There is no such thing as science in isolation, or science that pertains only to one people or nation.  Everything is an integral part of the socialization of knowledge. Humanity has had its scientific foundation consolidated in a number of societies – for example, there was Greece as the cradle of a great many doctrines and teachings.  And what about the European enlightenment?  National borders are all in our heads.

Awakening to this closing of the circle brings to the fore the academic discussion of the internationalization of higher education, which is to say, education without borders. The value of institutions – and above all students – clearly exhibiting knowledge of the world, i.e., learning of the whole, has appreciated substantially. The creation of internationally connected lesson plans, global case studies, the exchange of foreign professors and language instruction, among other things, are increasingly a part of the younger generation’s education. The more students and institutions are conversant with this world of knowledge, the greater their rewards. The big question is, how to obtain such knowledge quickly and in a consolidated fashion?  And the answer is to live it – through exchange!

When we share international experiences as friendship, food, feelings, we are sharing learning, culture – and this in the clearest and most memorable terms. Exchange opens frontiers and assists in the internationalization of knowledge. There’s no question that live experience opens our minds and transforms us. We know this is not the only way, but plainly it is the most effective tool for the worldwide assimilation of knowledge. Educational institutions know that the more immersed their students are in the new world of learning, the more they will be transformed.  The adoption of these policies and strategies in higher education is plain to see, in both the public and private spheres.  Whenever we travel, at some point we come home and spread our experiences to everything and everyone around us. It’s unavoidable!

This major differential should be – and has been – sought as a major step forward in improving education. This “upgrade” is of such importance that, when well executed, it opens up remarkable market opportunities for the student. Entering the job market is facilitated, as well as acquiring knowledge and understanding new subjects. An open mind receives more knowledge – and that’s a fact! Like everything in life, exchange requires planning. One must carefully consider one’s goals in life and professional development to line up the right place, institution, program of study and timetable for these goals.

There’s a saying whose source is not known for sure, though it’s definitely international. It’s thought to have been used for the first time at a lecture given by the mathematician Banza von Hambburg, and it admirably sums up the foregoing paragraph: “You’ve got to do a cost-benefit analysis.”

Brazilian and international universities are eager to receive students and send them abroad. There are many possible arrangements – everything from scholarships to incentives such as fellowships. The important thing is not to end up on the outside of this closing of the circle.  At the same time, as people we are directly connected to everything that’s going on in the world.  What we’ve got to do is strengthen this connection.

All strategies for removing boundaries to knowledge can be analyzed as isolated and unrelated factors; though some say they are interrelated. The only common and indisputable point is that learning is becoming increasingly international. Institutions that lean in this direction are better connected with the market, and more in tune with this stage of society’s evolution.

About the Author

Universidade Potiguar

The Universidade Potiguar - UNP maintained by the Potiguar Society for Education and Culture - APEC, is headquartered in London and is part of the Federal Teaching System. Founded in 1981 under the name School of Business, Accounting and Economics - UNIPEC received accreditation as in 1996 UNIVERSITY (DOU 20/12/1996), and, to date, the only private university operating in Rio Grande do Norte.