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International Exchange in Higher Engineering Education - a Representative Survey on International Mobility of Engineering Students

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Study Abroad, International Experience, Exchange Programs and Student Retention

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

23.806.1 - 23.806.23



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Paper Authors


Ute Heinze RWTH Aachen University

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Ute Heinze is a research assistant at IMA/ZLW and IFU of RWTH Aachen University. She is part of the project "Excellent Teaching and Learning in Engineering Science." Her research interests include international student mobility and technology-enhanced teaching and learning in higher engineering education.

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Ursula Bach

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Since January 2008, Ursula Bach has been a scientific researcher at the IMA/ZLW & IfU, initially in the fields of communication and organizational development.
In February 2011 she became the leader of the research group Didactics in STEM Fields. Bach has studied Communication Science, Political Science and History at the RWTH Aachen University and already worked as a student assistant in the division Product-Engineering at the IMA/ZLW & IfU.
Her focus is on knowledge and science transfer and the installation of the Competence and Service Centre for Teaching and Learning in Engineering Science.

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Rene Vossen

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Sabina Jeschke RWTH Aachen University

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Document Type: Abstract ASEE 2013Call for Paper: International DivisionPrioritized Session Topics:(1) Preparing engineering students for international practice,(2) Needs, Opportunities, and Challenges for Global Engineering Education,(3) International Education for Engineering Graduate Students Motivational Patterns and Obstacles to International Exchange in Higher Engineering Education – a representative surveyThe attitude of German engineering students towards spending a certain period of time abroadis highly ambivalent. Although German engineering students assume that intercultural skillsare key competences and a career-enhancing qualification, the number of students who leaveGermany for the purpose of study or a traineeship (referred to as ‘outbound mobility’) inhigher engineering education lies below average compared to other disciplines 1. One reasonfrequently put forward is the intensive workload students face in engineering scienceshampering their opportunities to go abroad as well as difficult recognition procedures of studycredits. Statistics show that the changes brought about by the Bologna Reform, initiated in1999 to align European higher education and to establish a common credit transfer system,did not result in increased student mobility as initially targeted 2,3. The reform rather resultedin less flexible curricula leaving students not enough time to spend a certain part of theirstudies abroad 4. While current statistics only consider framework conditions, personalreasons influencing decisions on mobility have so far not sufficiently been explored. Thus,this paper analyzes the personal motivations and obstacles students are confronted with whileplanning international exchange periods. Therefore, a survey is carried out among approx.35,000 students at one of Germany’s most renowned technical universities. Engineeringdisciplines such as mechanical engineering, civil engineering, and electrical engineering areintegrated into the sample. The anonymous and wide ranging survey covers topics such asfinancial issues, the recognition of credit points, and career advice services among otherpersonal factors influencing a decision on international exchange. First results of the surveyare available at the end of November 2012 and are analyzed within this paper. Depending onthe results, measures will finally be derived describing how to encourage more engineeringstudents to participate in international exchange programs.Bibliography1. Heublein, U. Internationale Mobilität im Studium 2009. Wiederholungsuntersuchung zu studienbezogenen Aufenthalten deutscher Studierender in anderen Ländern. (Higher Education Information System (HIS): Hannover, 2009).2. OECD Online Education Database. (2012).at 3. DAAD Wissenschaft weltoffen 2011. Daten und Fakten zur Internationalität von Studium und Forschung in Deutschland. (HIS: Bielefeld, 2011).at 4. EURODATA - Student mobility in European higher education. (Lemmens Verlags- & Mediengesellschaft: Bonn, 2006).at

Heinze, U., & Bach, U., & Vossen, R., & Jeschke, S. (2013, June), International Exchange in Higher Engineering Education - a Representative Survey on International Mobility of Engineering Students Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19820

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