Students get a global outlook on universities

Courses taught in English abroad offer new styles of study says Jessica Moore

With an increasing number of universities all over the world
offering undergraduate courses taught in English at affordable
rates, UK students are looking overseas for their education. Many
of the programmes they find offer a new perspective on teaching and

"It's a very international environment here," says Jana Light, who is studying communications at the HAN University of Applied Sciences, a state university in Nijmegen in the Netherlands. "In my class we have one Dutch guy, and the rest are from Germany, Ukraine, Lithuania, China, Vietnam, Indonesia – all over."

It's similar at IE, a private international university with campuses in Madrid and Segovia, Spain. "We have multicultural classes of 25 to 50 students, which may bring together people from 20 different countries," says Geoffroy Gérard, associate director of communications. "That will affect everything from the students' interests to the styles of study they have experienced." International students make up 60 per cent of IE's intake. At Jacobs University, a private institution in Bremen, Germany, more than 75 per cent come from outside Germany.

The teaching style benefits from this international mix of students. IE's approach, for example, prioritises discussion and debate over "chalk and talk". If there are lectures, they won't be the stadium-scale, professor-at-lectern affairs that go on at many UK institutions. "Usually, learning will involve some sort of chat," says Gérard.

Another feature of many international universities, and certainly of HAN, Jacobs and IE, is a focus on group work. Light says: "Students have to deal with each other on a day-to-day basis. You talk to each other about the different ways you might approach your work and your different experiences of learning. Everyone gains from that."

Students then apply these team-working skills to real work environments. Light, for example, hopes to spend the next year of her studies in Sweden, with six months in a work experience placement and six months at a Swedish university, all counting towards her degree. Comparable opportunities at IE have students taking internships all over the world.

Students still communicate with professors via online platforms. "That can be a split screen, where they can talk to each other as well as to the professors, or it may be in forums where students and tutors can discuss a topic and work through assignments," says Gérard. Contact is maintained and students have targets to meet.

Professors have a global outlook, too. "All of our professors have international experience. They have either come from other countries, or they are Spanish professors who have taught or studied in international universities. That brings a different mindset to the learning."

Light is aware of how education styles can vary between countries. The 21-year-old grew up between England and Germany, was schooled in both countries and now attends a Dutch university. "I found the approach to school in England to be quite disciplined. Everyone was expected to do their homework and to be on time, and the students were very respectful towards the teachers. In Germany, it was a lot more informal." At HAN, she says: "The atmosphere is really open and friendly."

Students may take some time to adapt, however. At Jacobs, there are systems in place to help students acclimatise. "When students first arrive on campus, they all go through inter-cultural training – learning how to work together in teams, learning about cross-cultural communication, experiencing different kinds of classroom culture," says Marie Vivas, director of admissions. "We think it's very important to teach each other about these differences and we encourage all students to be active in the classroom and research processes. The hope is that the students who graduate from these international classrooms will be able to work in teams with people from all over the world."

IE, HAN and Jacobs are among a number of international universities exhibiting at the Student World Fair, which is being held at the Emirates Stadium in London, 17 March 2012. Visit

Pro-Russia rebels guard a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crash in Torez, Ukraine
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
The Commonwealth flag flies outside Westminster Abbey in central London
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Rock to play DC character in superhero film
Arts and Entertainment
Damon Albarn is starting work on a new West End musical
artsStar's 'leftfield experimental opera' is turning mainstream
Life and Style
Paul and his father
artsPaul Carter wants to play his own father in the film of his memoirs
Ben Stokes trudges off after his latest batting failure for England as Ishant Sharma celebrates one of his seven wickets
Arts and Entertainment
Members of the public are invited to submit their 'sexcapades' to Russell T Davies' new series Tofu
Sky's Colin Brazier rummages through an MH17 victim's belongings live on air
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
arts + ents'The Imitation Game' stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

SEN Teacher

£110 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are urgently seeking a ...

Year 5/6 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The successful applicant w...

Year 5/6 Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The JobThe successful ...

BEAT Instructor

£70 - £87 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Teachers with a passion for PSH...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor