Docherty pushes national student exchanges
by Rachael Frey
It’s no secret international exchanges can have huge benefits to students’ university experiences.
They’re an opportunity to experience different cultures, learn new languages and expand resumes — not to mention a challenge to survive in a foreign environment.
But many students and schools haven’t considered that those opportunities are also available within Canada.
In a speech to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 11, David Docherty, Mount Royal University president, said he intends to foster student exchanges with other Canadian universities.
“Just as students demonstrate maturity and growth in international exchanges, they can also develop their skills and independence in a national exchange,” Docherty said.
“The longer term benefits for those with national experience when they graduate either in business, government or the social sector would be tremendous.”
While he is a huge supporter of international exchange opportunities, Docherty said he would like MRU students to know as much about Newfoundland and Labrador as they do about Brazil, and Ontario students to know as much about Alberta as they do about South Africa.
Though it’s too early to tell how many students will be able to participate in national exchanges, Docherty said the numbers might eventually rival those of students in international exchanges. The university currently has over 300 students studying abroad.
Part of the idea for national exchanges within Canada came about at a joint alumni event between Mount Royal and Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont. Docherty, who is both an alumnus and former faculty member of WLU, said there is the possibility of a partnership between the two schools.
“In some ways, MRU and my former institution make a natural starting point,” he said. “They are similar-sized institutions with some strong programs that overlap.”
Both institutions have programs in journalism, policy studies, political science, economics, business and English, among others.
“It might make a good first start,” Docherty said. “We have to do a lot more work before this begins, but a goal would be to establish some partnerships that would allow Canadian students to spend some time in other parts of the country.”