Campus - 29.04.2019 - 00:00 

Off on exchange – but where to exactly?

If you ask HSG students what their most formative experience during their studies was, they often give you the same answer: the exchange semester. But why do so many HSG students choose to go abroad for a semester and how do you find the right destination as an “outgoing” exchange student? An article by student reporter Niels Niemann.

29 April 2019. For many HSG students, an exchange semester is an essential part of their studies. According to the Federal Office for Statistics’ mobility report on its survey of graduates of Swiss universities in 2016, more than half of all HSG graduates have spent at least one semester abroad during their studies. In comparison with other universities in Switzerland, this represents the highest proportion of participating students by far. In the academic year 2018/19, 1,082 HSG students took part in an exchange, and the trend is rising. There are several reasons for these high figures, as Nicole Gsell, head of Student Mobility, notes.

Over 200 partner universities, more than 2,000 experience reports

For many HSG students, the possibility of an exchange semester is a crucial factor in their decision to study at the university, and so they already have a great interest in this by the time they start their studies. With its extensive exchange network of over 200 partner universities, HSG offers a suitable partner institution for all individual requirements. The exchange is also facilitated by the easier accreditation of courses, especially in economics. While it can be difficult for law students, for example, to take courses in Swiss law abroad, courses in management, marketing and finance are offered worldwide. However, in addition to compulsory subjects, elective courses and contextual studies can also be taken abroad and accredited at HSG. Students who are required to complete certain compulsory and elective subjects can take these examinations in the central examination block at HSG after their semester abroad, in order to avoid an extension of their studies.





I decided to do an exchange semester in the USA for three reasons: firstly I wanted to study in an English-speaking country, secondly I wanted to get to know a new continent and thirdly I was fascinated by “American college life”. As a BLE student, I was able to take two compulsory courses in the USA and most of the subjects within contextual studies.






Daniel, Major Law and Economics,



spent his 7th semester at Bentley University in the USA





A trend for English-speaking countries

Student Mobility offers various services to support students in choosing a destination. Particularly helpful is the experience report database, where all experience reports from students who have had exchange experiences in past years are available. Here, you can find reports both from students who have been to a partner university and from students of all other exchange programmes, for example free movers, who organised their exchange themselves. The experience reports help students to gain an initial overview of the host university and the courses on offer. In addition to the university’s reputation, however, the location of the partner university is also of particular importance for students, as Nicole Gsell points out. The general trend is towards universities in English-speaking countries such as the USA, Canada, Australia and England. However, there are always short-term trends too and these can be very difficult to predict, even for Student Mobility. It is therefore not always possible to predict whether a sufficient number of places will be available at a partner university.





Celebrating New Year’s Eve at minus 35 degrees Celsius isn’t for everyone – I too had to learn to live with Montréal’s cold weather, and from time to time I asked myself why I wanted to improve my French in Canada of all places. But Montréal has given me more than just a slight Quebec accent in my French. For me, it is the memories of great moments I experienced there and the people I share those memories with.






Tabea, Major International Affairs,



spent her 6th semester at HEC Montréal in Canada





HSG Asia Term – a special kind of exchange

In addition to an exchange at a partner university, more and more students are taking the option of the HSG Asia Term in Singapore, HSG’s flagship exchange programme. The programme is particularly aimed at students who are interested in the Asian market and can imagine themselves working in Asia in the future. Despite the high popularity of the HSG Asia Term, which is conducted in cooperation with the Singapore Management University, almost all interested students could be accepted in the past, as the programme offers up to 70 places.





I chose the Asia Term because I appreciate Asian culture, and because it also gives us the unique opportunity to work together with multinational companies on a project.






Valérie, Major VWL,



chose to spend her 5th semester participating in the HSG Asia Term in Singapore





Information events on 30 April and 2 May 2019

Whether partner university, HSG Asia Term or free mover, every programme and destination has its own individual advantages, and preferences can vary according to personal interests. For anyone who, despite all the available information and experience reports, is still not quite sure how to organise their own exchange, Student Mobility will be available to offer advice on 30 April and 2 May 2019, at its "Study abroad – are you ready?" stand in the foyer of the library building. The Student Mobility team will be happy to answer any questions you may have about HSG’s exchange programmes. Furthermore, an information event on the HSG Asia Term will be held on 2 May at 12.15 p.m. in room 01-U201, open to all interested parties, and the CEMS MiM Information Event will take place at 6.30 p.m. in room 09-110.

Niels Niemann is in the sixth semester of his Business Administration studies.

Image: Adobe Stock / olga pink

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