Heading into its third year, the International Dual Degree Program in Mathematics & Statistics between York and Italy’s University of L’Aquila is still waiting for the first York student to take advantage of it.
As part of the program, a student in York’s Department of Mathematics & Statistics would complete the third year of their degree at the University of L’Aquila earning a Laurea di primo livello (equivelent to a BSc). L’Aquila is situated in the heart of the mountainous region of the Abruzzi and is flanked on one side by the Velino and Sirente mountain ranges and on the other by the Laga mountains and the Gran Sasso range.
So far no one has jumped at the opportunity and that has York’s Department of Mathematics & Statistics rethinking the high number of mandatory courses required to be part of the program. The University of L’Aquila has done the same and changes are expected to be ratified and in place by 2008.
There are also reforms under way for certain first-year courses in mathematics and statistics at York that will affect the International Dual Degree Program in Mathematics & Statistics. It is hoped these reforms will attract more students.
As a financial incentive, the University of L’Aquila is offering every York student in the International Dual Degree Program who studies for a year at L’Aquila financial assistance of up to €5,000 (about $7,350). This assistance was made possible through €100,000 (about $147,000) in funding from the government of the region Abbruzzo to the University of L’Aquila especially for the program. This is in addition to any support that York is already offering to the exchange students. These funds can also be used to help faculty and staff assisting in the exchange.
"Dual degree programs are becoming increasingly popular at universities around the world. Students studying abroad must first ensure that the courses they take will be accepted at their home institution, and working out those details takes time and energy," said Paula Wilson, acting associate vice-president international at York University. "Dual degrees bypass this process, as the course equivalencies are worked out in advance."
York has had a general student exchange agreement with the University of L’Aquila since 1991, but the math and statistics program only began in the fall of 2005. Discussion of such a program first occurred when York and L’Aquila were both part of a Human Resources and Development Canada sponsored international consortium of Canadian and European universities. York lead the group from 1998 to 2002.
An Internationalization grant by York’s Vice-President Academic Sheila Embleton in 2002, got the two universities working on a plan. Like York, L’Aquila is a fairly young university – established in 1964.
For a York student to take part, they first have to seek admission to the dual degree program, either honours or regular, in their first-year of study or switch from their current math or statistics program.
After finishing mandatory first- and second-year courses at York, including language preparation, the student then studies at L’Aquila for one year and completes the degree requirements for the Italian BSc.
They would then return to York for a fourth year of study and complete the degree program requirements here. The program requirements for courses in mathematics and statistics are almost identical at York and L’Aquila and credits earned at one university count fully towards the degree at the other university.
"Students also receive the bonus of receiving a degree from each institution, which can be helpful when seeking additional education or career opportunities. In the L’Aquila case, for example, a York degree might be more valuable in North America, but the L’Aquila degree is likely to be more valuable in Europe," Wilson said. "It also signals to employers that the graduate has international experience, a second language and welcomes new and novel opportunities. Finally, developing and administering dual degree programs provides the departments and institutions involved an opportunity to strengthen ties and deepen relationships, making the dual degree program exciting and valuable to everyone involved."
York International administers and supports all student exchanges under this program. So far, two students from L’Aquila have studied at York in 2005-2006 and one in 2006-2007.
Italian heritage is not a requirement of students interested in this exchange.
Story submitted to YFile by York student Sounak Chatterjee