exchange programme students discussing

What You Need to Know About Student Exchange Programmes

A student exchange programme is an avenue for students from a secondary school or university to study abroad. One of their institution’s partner institutions organises it. The term “exchange” means that an associate institution proposes an admission to a student. This does not mean that the students have to find a counterpart from the other institution with whom to exchange. This “exchange” could be short-term or long-term. Each has its distinct focus and objectives.

A short-term exchange or STEP often lasts from one week to three months. During this period, there is an intensive exposure to the understanding of other cultures, communities, and languages.

We can usually apply for these programmes through various governmental and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). They are the ones that organise such programmes. Most times, their sponsors demand an oral presentation.

On the other hand, a long-term exchange lasts six to ten months or up to one full year. Students who intend to partake in this programme must have a student visa. The visa depends on the host country one chooses, as they may require further details or documents. For instance, guest students going to the US need a J-1 cultural exchange visa or an F-1 foreign student visa.

Students in long-term exchange programmes get to know a host family and integrate themselves into the local community and society at large. They have to speak and understand the host country’s language at least at a basic level.

Students also have to incorporate what they learnt into the development of their country. A typical instance of an exchange programme is Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (a government-funded programme.) Likewise, The Council on Standards for International Educational Travel, a non-profit organization, commits to quality international educational travel and exchange for youth at the high school level.

The application process for long-term exchange programmes.

Long-term exchange programmes application and interviews take place 10 months before departure. But it can be only 4 months before in some cases. Applicants should be between the ages of 13 and 18. Some allow students older than 18 years of age in technical work-study programmes. They often require a preliminary or full application form, including fees, followed by a scheduled interview for the applicants. 

For high school students, a GPA of 2.5 or higher is mostly required. Candidates with the best performance in both academics and conduct have more chances of being selected to serve as ambassadors for their countries.

The organization, university or college defines the costs of the charges from their student exchanges. The costs vary depending on the country, duration of the study, and other private factors. Different programmes through the institution of choice may offer students scholarships that cover the expenses of travel and accommodation. They also cover the personal needs of a student.