International study options give students global experience. For Anushka Shrestha it included a bonus encounter with the Pope.
International experience is becoming more valued by employers and Australian Catholic University (ACU) is providing students with more chances than ever to reap the rewards of overseas study.
Fourth year Bachelor of Commerce Anushka Shrestha jetted off to Italy and interned at the Secretariat for the Economy of The Vatican City State and The Holy See, with the Control and Vigilance section.
“My role was to assist the team in their on-going operations of preparing the financial documents of all entities under the above-mentioned organisation’s umbrella,” she said.
“I think internships are really good opportunities to get into a work force. You learn so much about the dynamics of an actual workplace, which only being in an organisation can teach you.
“The entire experience was professionally and personally enriching. I learnt a lot about Catholicism, and got a lot of religious awareness as well.
“Overall it was amazing and the biggest highlight of my time surely had to be meeting the Pope, and taking a selfie with him.”
Universities Australia recently released figures showing the number of students studying abroad as part of their Australian university degree has grown fourfold over the past decade, amid high satisfaction ratings for those overseas study programs.
In 2014, more than 30,000 students studied, worked or volunteered in another country as part of their Australian degree. This was up from 7,000 in 2005.
ACU Associate Director, International Relations and Partnerships, Kirk Doyle said ACU has seen even more rapid growth with approximately 1000 students heading overseas to study this year increasing from just 30 in 2010.
“Up until a few years ago, most ACU students who studied abroad did so by taking part in a formal student exchange program, which meant they were based at one of our partner universities for six to 12 months during their ACU degree,” he said. “This is still a popular option for students with around 120 students joining our exchange program this year.”
“But for most students, spending a full semester overseas is not really possible, so each year, more and more are getting involved in intensive, short-term international programs such as ACU-led study tours, community engagement activities, short-term study abroad programs, internships and professional placements.
“This year more than 80 per cent of the students travelling overseas are away for less than 6 weeks, and most of them go abroad during the university vacation weeks – so they don’t have to interrupt their studies.
“The great news in this is students who are working or who have family and community commitments now have a whole range of international opportunities available to them that didn’t exist previously.”
Exposure to new cultures, languages, communities and experiences mean students return from overseas placements with an expanded understanding not only of the world around them, but of themselves.
“Gaining international experience is enormously valuable,” Mr Doyle said.
“There is now lots of research that suggests students who have studied abroad are more likely to be innovative, collaborative, adaptable, confident and simply more able to “hit the ground running” in the workplace. According to the Huffington Post, all this means graduates with international experience are more likely to be snapped up quickly by employers.
“Not surprisingly, at a broader level, our students also tell us they gain real insight and understanding of other cultures through their international experiences. They almost always return to Australia better-informed about international politics, major world events and the big issues confronting people in other regions.
“On the flip side they quickly learn about how people elsewhere perceive Australia. For many of our students, the international experiences they gain at ACU are formative (or transformative) and have a huge impact on their personal and professional decisions thereafter.”
ACU students have a great range of international experiences to choose from. These include student exchange programs in over 30 countries; professional placements and internships; community engagement activities in places like Timor Leste, Cambodia and Vanuatu; ACU-led study tours taught by our own academics in China, USA, Chile, Uganda and a new range of programs taught at ACU’s own Rome Centre throughout the year.
Executive Director, International, Chris Riley reinforced the importance of offering international experiences to ACU students. “ Our students will be working in professions that offer fantastic international opportunities and also require very high levels of inter-cultural competency. These international programs are an important part of the global engagement experience we aim to offer our students.”
At ACU one of the most exciting new developments has been the introduction of our unique International Core program. This program is open to almost all undergraduates and it allows students to complete one of their compulsory core curriculum units in a choice of locations, including Rome, Paris, London and Beijing, during our summer or winter breaks. New programs in other locations are now under development.