Concordia's Thursday Report

Vol. 28, No.6

November 20, 2003


Students, leave home to study: It's good for you

by Liza Bichard

The Centre for International Academic Co-operation (CIAC) held its third annual International/Student Exchange and Study Abroad-Away Fair on Nov. 5 to encourage Concordia students to study abroad.

The fair, held in the atrium of the McConnell building, gave students a chance to find out more about International/Student Exchange Programs (I/SEP). Tables were set up by individual faculties, host countries, financial aid counsellors, and CIAC advisors. Geraldine Ford, a CIAC program assistant/counsellor, said this is an ideal time for students to start planning their trip.

“We try to promote and have all students go, whether they’re shy, outgoing, introverted, or extroverted. It’s a great learning experience. They learn about themselves, different cultures, and they’re exposed to a different lifestyle,” she said.

Concordia students who have participated in the I/SEP were also on hand to share their experiences. Véronique Tokateloff, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student and vice-president of external affairs for the Engineering and Computer Science Student’s Association, spent last year in Toulouse, France.

Because she missed the application deadline once before, she has been visiting first-year engineering classes to make sure students know how early they should start planning.

“I think there’s a gap between teachers and students in the communication of information,” she said.

One of the best parts of the I/SEP, according to many participants, was the experience they gained.

“If you’re doing business abroad, you have to deal with different cultures. But you can’t learn that from a book; you actually have to experience it,” said Asif-Aly Penwala, a finance student who spent last year’s winter semester in the south of France.

Danny van Gelder, a final year political science student, described his semester in Holland as “phenomenal.”

“If you want to travel, or just get out of Montreal, it’s such an ideal way to do it: when you’re young and you’re mobile,” he said. Darren Shore, in his first year studying political science and Spanish, attended the fair to find out more about studying in Australia.

“The people are helpful and it’s good to be able to see people in person as opposed to doing everything by phone or e-mail, as I was before,” he said.

Concordia students can participate in two types of exchange programs: the Conférence des Recteurs et des Principaux des Universités du Québec (CREPUQ) I/SEP, which has exchange agreements with certain universities, and the Bilateral I/SEP, which is more of a one-on-one process of finding a host university.

Students participating in the program pay Concordia tuition instead of international fees. Quebec residents can also apply for a Student Mobility Bursary from the Ministry of Quebec Education (MEQ), which gives them up to $1,000 per month to cover various expenses.

“I couldn’t have gone without it,” said Tokateloff. She warned prospective exchange students not to expect the bursary as soon as they arrive at their host university, and to plan ahead.

The fair came at an opportune time, as the Quebec government has recently tried to impose a parity rule that would require Concordia to accept only as many exchange students as it sends abroad. The rule was to be implemented for this academic year, but complaints from universities within the CREPUQ has held it off until at least next year.

According to Ford, the regulation would greatly affect the university’s international student population. Last year, Concordia hosted over 2,000 foreign students, but sent only 134 to other countries.

Applications for the 2004/2005 semesters are due on February 13. The CIAC office is presently located at 2490 West Broadway, across from Loyola High School, and will soon be moving to the Sir George William campus. For application forms and more information, visit the CIAC website at