See the big wide world through IAPO

17 August 2005

The university experience is, of course, about more than just about lectures and books and cramming on the eve of exams. There are parties and sports and societies and hanging out at the library.

Over the past few years, the International Academic Programmes Office (IAPO) has been pulling out all the stops to add to that experience, and make the world a smaller place for students. More to the point, they have signed more than two dozen very attractive exchange agreements with international institutions.

These agreements allow UCT undergraduate and graduate students to spend some time, usually a semester, at universities in the US, Canada and Australia and even Chile. For now, the bulk of these deals are with American institutions.

It's the ideal travel-abroad opportunity for itchy-footed students on a budget. They don't, for example, have to pay academic and accommodation fees at their host institutions, and living costs are covered to varying degrees under most of the agreements.

Also, just about all the courses completed at these universities are recognised and credited by UCT. So there's no real catching-up to do on return.

There are some demands on the wallet, however. Apart from having to be up to date with their UCT fees, students have to pay half their airfare, as well as any visa fees and health costs, such as immunisations. (Iapo will fully fund airfare if a student applies for and is approved for financial aid.)

BCom (politics, philosophy and economics stream) student Gill Einhorn will tell you the sojourn is worth every cent. She's just returned from a stay at the highly-rated University of California, Davis, close to the state capital and the popular San Francisco Bay Area.

Einhorn made sure not a moment of her time in California went to waste. She signed up for the Green Party. And the Republican Society. And, for good measure, the Democratic Society. (She had to choose a side of the fence for George Bush's inauguration, though, when she was invited to both the Republicans' celebratory ball and the Democrats' more-downbeat protest. She opted for the protest).

As an editor on UCT's Varsity crew, Einhorn also put her publishing skills to use to help a group of Latino students breathe new life into their flagging newsletter, La Palabra. And she had ample opportunity to play ambassador for UCT and South Africa - for example, she dormed with five Californians, who had little knowledge of either.

"I enjoyed the opportunity to integrate into the upbeat lifestyle of the University of California community," Einhorn says. "There is a vast difference between going on holiday to a new country and living there. It provides an opportunity to connect with and relate to locals, which would not be possible otherwise. I am proud to say that the academic standing of UCT economics and politics courses matches that of the University of California."

For more information on the international exchange agreements, please contact Sharon Turner at Iapo on ext 2822 or e-mail IAPO has also arranged similar agreements for academics and PASS staff. (IAPO Exchange Website)

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