Dear Mentor:

Where is an international student exchange program?

I am a law student, presently studying in my fourth year of law at ILS Law college, Pune. I would like to know about the exchange programmes open to me, and the criteria and the formalities to be complied with for the same. I would very much like to participate in an international students and exchange programme.

Legal Exchange, Pune, India

Dear Legal Exchange:

Let us understand some terminology first. An international student - commonly referred to as a foreign student - is someone who is a foreign national living in a country for the sole purpose of studies. The international student visa - a legal authorization for being in the country of studies - requires that the holder be a full-time student and must not take up employment. To study in a foreign country as an international student, one has to pursue this avenue through one's own efforts; no third party is involved.

A student exchange program is between two schools, colleges or universities, in which students from one academic institution study, for a limited duration and purpose, at the other institution, under an existing agreement between the institutions. When the sister institutions are in different countries, the program may be referred to as an international student exchange program.

Sometimes the national governments or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are the facilitators for exchange programs. Note that they are facilitators and not conductors of the programs. The sponsorship of such programs by the national governments is typically restricted to encouraging academic institutions and offering nominal financial support, but such involvement is typically not for higher education. This is particularly true for the US and Canada.

The important point to note is that the arrangement for exchange programs is often between academic institutions, and not under an umbrella arrangement between countries. Whether your college has any arrangement for exchange programs is something much easier for you to find out. We are not aware of student exchange programs, for those who have already finished their program of studies. For this situation, your best bet is to consider the route of being an international student in the country of interest.

You can find the list of law colleges in the US, UK, and Canada in the iMahal Education Channel.

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