MIT-Imperial College London exchange program begins

MIT and Imperial to exchange eight students each in pilot

MIT has launched a two-year pilot for a multi-departmental exchange with Imperial College London, in an effort to fill the gap left by the termination of the Cambridge-MIT Exchange (CME) in 2017.

There are nine departments participating in the pilot: Courses 2, 3, 5, 6, 10, 12, 16, 18, and 22.

MIT and Imperial have sent and received the first group of exchange students. Two MIT students from Course 10 are currently at Imperial, and six more will be sent in the spring. MIT has received eight students from Imperial, who will stay for the entire year.

The pilot is an expansion of the original academic exchange with Imperial, which involved only Course 3 and 22. GECD (now two offices, CAPD and Global Education) worked with Vice Chancellor Ian Waitz and the departments and faculty that had previously been very active in CME to gauge interest in developing a similar exchange with Imperial.

“There is a different teaching and learning environment [at Imperial] — that’s what we want students to get exposure to. There is much more emphasis on working individually and independently — so that’s a huge benefit for our students going forward, either for employment or for grad school,” Malgorzata Hedderick, associate dean of global education, said in an interview with The Tech.

At U.K. universities such as Imperial, students usually live on campus for the first year only and studying is independent rather than focused on recitations and office hours. There are no midterm exams or problem sets during the term.

It was a different way of learning, and I think I prefer it here [MIT] than there [Imperial] because I didn’t understand much of what I was learning until the very end, when I was studying [for final exams],” Sandra Glotzer ’19 said in an interview with The Tech. Glotzer studied at Imperial during spring 2016.

“We are hoping that after this two-year pilot, there will be enough interest so that we will be able to grow the exchange. The idea would be to have at least two students per department, especially for the bigger departments,” Hedderick said.

MIT selects students through an online application, after which MIT and Imperial work together to judge the fit and level of preparation of each student. MIT students in their junior year are strongly preferred.

This is not the first instance of a partnership between MIT and Imperial. In 2013, MIT began a summer research exchange with Imperial. The exchange program was spearheaded by Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Linn Hobbs (MIT) and Professor of Materials Physics and Chief Scientific Advisor to the U.K. Robin Grimes (Imperial).

Currently, ten departments are participating in the research exchange.

Each department can nominate up to two students for the research exchange, meaning twenty students will exchange places each summer. “We are at a very interesting crossroads for the summer research exchange because we will need to find funding beyond next summer for the program to be able to continue,”  Hedderick said.

“London and Imperial College are wonderfully international, so it was not too difficult adjusting to a new culture,” Milani Chatterji-Len ’19, who participated in the summer exchange, said in an email to The Tech.

Kris Auyeung ’19, who studied at Imperial during spring 2016, seemed to concur. “The people we met often came from places all over Europe and beyond, and hearing about their unique experiences and backgrounds was a particularly enriching part of my experience abroad,” she said.