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From India to Rollins

New exchange program plans for students from Jindal Global University in India to spend two years on campus.

Rollins College is planning a new program that would allow students from India to attend Rollins for their final two years of undergraduate education; their first two years would be at Jindal Global University (JGU).  The program is set to begin in 2016, but it is still in its planning stages.

There has been plenty of contact between the two universities.  The Vice Chancellor of Jindal visited Rollins last  year, and a group of faculty from Rollins visited their campus in India in May.  A group of faculty from Jindal Global College visited Rollins again in early December.  During this visit, both colleges gave presentations and signed a memorandum for the new program.

JGU is a relatively young university.  The first class of this partnership program will begin at JGU in fall of 2014 and enter Rollins in the fall of 2016.  It is a four year, dual-degree program.  The expected participation is 30 students a year, with around 60 Indian students on Rollins’ campus at a time. Once enrolled in the program, attendance at Rollins is required.  Upon their arrival for their first year at Jindal, the students will be given a Rollins advisor, to help smooth their transition between schools and countries.  Dr. Jonathan Walz said that this will “help give them an identity at Rollins, before they even get here.”

The potential curriculum planned for the exchange students is very diverse.  Many different departments have worked together to come up with acceptable curriculum requirements, focusing on the liberal arts.  However, it is proposed that the exchange students will become fully integrated as true participants on the Rollins campus—there will be no exchange student exclusive classes or exclusive dormitories.  As of now, there are no anticipated housing problems or meal plan issues for the new students.  The program is also working with Dean Powers to make sure that any of the exchange students that wish to take part in religious ceremonies will be able to do so.

Most Indian students are more Americanized than we might expect.  Their high schools have IB programs, and they are often active participants in social media.  It is vital to allow these students to experience the “real” America.  As Dr. Jayashree Shivamoggi said, “These kids are going to be very aware of American culture, if anything we need to straighten them of all those stereotypes and prejudices.  To them, America means what they see on TV, and the music they hear… so that is what informs their knowledge of the US, and so I feel like when they come here, they will get a better understanding of what we are about.”

Currently, the exchange program only works one way–with students from India coming to Rollins.  Though there are currently no plans for Rollins students to study at Jindal Global University, a new study abroad program might become a reality with enough student interest.

It is important to realize that the JGU is a very prestigious university, and it is common for many good American colleges to have exchange programs with colleges in India.  Dr. Walz pointed out that this new program “raises the visibility of Rollins College,” and Dr. Shivamoggi said that we are “following a global trend in higher education.”

Dr. Walz believes that the program will be beneficial to both Rollins students and Jindal students and said, “It will help to further internationalize the campus—lending greater diversity to our student body.  Through the interactions with these students while they are on campus, I imagine the perspectives of American Rollins students to be expanded.” Dr. Shivamoggi agrees and commented on the preparedness of the Jindal students, “I am actually completely expecting them to raise the bar for the students here.  So, I think it would be really beneficial for Rollins students to have them here on campus.  Because these students are not scared to work, and they are not scared to be challenged, I think it will be a win-win for everyone.”

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