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Summer Schools in Europe are increasingly popular

Over 1,000 foreign students attend Utrecht Summer School

International summer schools in Europe are attracting foreign students in ever-increasing numbers. For a number of years now, universities and colleges of higher vocational education have been organising summer schools as a serious activity to promote internationalisation. Utrecht University has also seen a rapid increase in the schools' popularity.

"We crossed the magic threshold of one thousand students last year," says Jeroen Torenbeek, who is the Director of the Utrecht University Summer School. "We're aiming for at least 1,250 for summer 2008."

The Utrecht Summer School began in 1987 with a single subject, namely Dutch Culture and Society. This was a fairly obvious choice, which was intended to draw international students' attention to the Netherlands. Now, 21 years later, that subject is part of a university-wide programme of some 60 subjects, run in collaboration with Hogeschool Utrecht (Utrecht’s college of higher vocational education) and the Utrecht School of the Arts.

"We have created specialist subjects in all fields of study. Nowadays, students fly half way around the world for a three-week course in epidemiology," says Torenbeek, who has been involved in the Utrecht Summer School since its inception. "Last year, we were in doubt as to whether a one-week business course would provide enough reason for people to travel to the Netherlands – until twenty Taiwanese students registered who were willing to make the trip."

The success of Summer Schools
Utrecht University is not the only university benefiting from rising numbers — other universities all over Europe have also noticed that summer schools clearly offer students many advantages. Oxford, Cambridge and Oslo join Utrecht in offering Europe's largest Summer Schools. Summer schools are being established in almost every European country. According to Torenbeek, their success is due to the many advantages for both students and universities.

"One thing that motivates us is the search for the best Master's students. And as you know, students love an adventure. Who wouldn't want to delve into exciting subjects together with other young people from all over the world?" The course credits offered for almost all subjects as well as the wide range of social activities during the Summer School also encourage students to attend, adds Torenbeek.

Peter van der Wilt | alfa
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