The exchange student Buddy Program developed at CBS, which relies on student volunteers to help incoming international students get acquainted with their new environment, is becoming a model for other universities in Denmark.
CBS as veteran Buddy Program-advisor
Representatives of Roskilde University (RUC) have recently sought inspiration from CBS in connection with re-establishing the university’s ’Mentor Programme’. Roskilde University intends to develop a program for receiving exchange students that corresponds more closely to CBS’ Buddy Program. In this context, the leader of RUC’s ‘Mentor Programme’ has turned to CBS’ Buddy Coordinators in order to learn from the CBS experience how to motivate Danish students to volunteer as mentors who will help foreign students adjust to living and studying in Denmark.
CBS has been so successful in this respect that both the school’s ’Buddy Program and its ‘Exchange Social Program’ actually attracts too many volunteers. Last semester, in fact, both the Buddy Program and the Exchange Social Program had to turn potential volunteers away at CBS.
CBS' well concieved and viable program
The coordinators of the Buddy Program and the Exchange Social Program at CBS attribute their success to several factors:
- We are very well structured and organized in our work with our Buddies and international students and CBS gives us a lot of good opportunities for getting our message out there; among other things with banners on campus, commercials on e-campus.dk and the opportunity to reach first year students via little presentations at their lectures, says Rie Schimmell, CBS Buddy Coordinator.
According to the coordinators, however, word of mouth is still the best way to spread the good message – most of the students who volunteer for the Buddy Program have heard about it from friends and fellow students.
Exchange Social Program Coordinator Mathias Dyrborg adds that at CBS, a culture has developed for engaging in these kinds of programs, and that the students show great interest in gaining access to the potential international network that is one of the rewards of getting actively involved as a volunteer.
This is the culture CBS can aim to teach RUC by sharing the experiences.
Mutual cooperation and inspiration is best
Rie Schimmell and Mathias Dyrborg both hope that a meeting with RUC will benefit both parties. The ideal would be if it could lay the foundation for further cooperation, where the Danish universities exchange experiences and learn from each other’s ways of doing things.
At CBS’ Buddy and Exchange Social Program-offices there is a general agreement that it would beneficial for everybody if more universities used each other and actively shared best practices in order to and establish the best possible welcoming programs overall for international students coming to the Danish on exchange.
- A warm welcome can attract even more international students and maybe even attract more highly qualified foreign researchers to the Danish universities. That would benefit Denmark as a whole, says Rie Schimmell.