Science without Borders: students’ perceptions of international exchange


  • Rosanne Quinnell
  • Chong Eng Tay
  • Michelle Kofod
  • Noel Whitaker
  • Julian Cox


Scientists view their disciplines as being practiced collaboratively with discussion and debate ignoring national borders. Clearly the international arena cannot be understated for our practice of research and its importance to infuse the global nature of science into science education. In an exchange program developed between the Faculties of Science at an Asian university (NUS) and an Australian university (UNSW), students were provided an opportunity to study science in another University, in a foreign country. To define the educational benefits of the exchange program, we obtained responses from UNSW and NUS science students, through pre- and post-program questionnaires, regarding their perceptions of the program and their motivations for joining the program. Students from both Universities appreciated participating in the program and found it met their expectations, with “development of inter and intrapersonal and self management skills” and “learning more about the host country’s culture, wildlife and environment” being most prominent. However, the two cohorts differed in their sense of the level of integration of the exchange program into their science degrees. UNSW students view Science without Borders (SwoB) as sitting outside their core curriculum whereas the NUS students view their Australian experience as very much a part of their degree program. This means that there is a mismatch between the perceptions of the students in the SWoB program and the way science is practiced. This paper provides background to the SWoB program, an analysis of the student experience as well as a critique of the current ‘global positioning’ of higher education in the sciences, as we grapple with increasing ‘global literacy’ in science.