ISSUE-074

Colleges and universities should require their students to spend at least one semester studying in a foreign country.


Write a response in which you discuss your views on the policy and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider the possible consequences of implementing the policy and explain how these consequences shape your position.



Spending at least one semester studying in a foreign country is an appealing and realistic proposal for driven university students. Whether or not this should be a mandatory high-education requirement, however, greatly depends on how they regard the opportunity. Will they focus exclusively on their studies or will they assume the role of ambassadors for their countries?


If we want students to expand their academic and non-academic experiences, we should encourage them to study in a foreign country for at least one semester, but should not make it a compulsory requirement. Not all students are well-suited to study abroad. Assimilating into a foreign culture entails a comprehensive understanding of that culture. This is unlikely if the student lacks language proficiency. However, acquiring sufficient language proficiency so as to have little difficulty communicating, both academically and in their daily lives, is incredibly time-consuming. This makes overseas study a desirable choice exclusively for those already proficient in the target language. For example, while an English major student might benefit tremendously from immersion in an English-speaking country, requiring a Japanese Literature major student, who is Japanese, to pursue his/her study in an English-speaking country is unreasonable when he/she would receive better instruction in his/her own country. It may even be disastrous to compel an American freshman to study in a Chinese university, if his/her rudimentary Chinese language skills would preclude him/her from a wholehearted immersion in Chinese culture and consequently inflame his/her eager of returning to his/her home country.


On the other hand, if we are discussing whether to require every student to become an exchange student, the issue is far more complex and therefore necessitates a more thorough examination. Firstly, it is expensive to live and study in a foreign country. Even if the government assumed the expense, it would still be impossible to provide every student with such an opportunity. More importantly, exchange student programs are designed in the hope that students from two countries could contribute to the multicultural communication. Such a contribution depends on how well the students embody their country’s most valuable characteristics and whether they are able to express and convey those in a friendly and explicit way. Moreover, exchange students should possess an intense passion for various cultures and an appreciation for multiculturalism. Therefore, colleges and universities should adopt a selection method that would provide only elite students who personify these characteristics with the opportunity to study abroad. As a result, the students selected would represent their nation well and also gain a wealth of experience in foreign countries. However, if we give this opportunity to students indiscriminately, the goal of multicultural communication will be jeopardized.


In addition, while communication with different culture is appealing and indispensable for a university student, not only does such communication result from an overseas experience, but it can be also achieved through introduction of foreign teachers into students’ home country. This alternative policy demonstrates advantages when students cannot afford the expense of overseas study and is thereby presumably desirable in some developing countries.

To draw a conclusion, no matter how students perceive the opportunity to study abroad, they should always be asked whether or not they want to do so, as well as whether or not they are capable of doing so. Besides, when it comes to a case where exchange students are selected, we should guarantee that only those who sufficiently embody their countries are provided with opportunities. Moreover, when alternative options emerge, which outshine the proposed one in this issue task in terms of financial factors, we should better adopt the former ones.

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