PART III : YEAR III IN EUROPE

3.1 Rationale and Preferred Mode of Experience
3.2 Special Regulations
3.3 Nature of Work Placements
3.4 Cultural "Acclimatization"
3.5 Academic Integration of the Year Abroad
3.6 Monitoring and Assessment of the Year Abroad
3.7 Credit Distribution
3.8 Assessment of Year III
3.9 Regulation for Credit Transfer of Year III
3.10 Additional Credit Transfer
3.11 Legal Aspects
3.12 Cost of Year Abroad to Students
3.13 Exchange Programmes
< Read Full Text >

3.1 Rationale and Preferred Mode of Experience
  1. It is considered crucially important for all students to spend one full year, between the second and the Final Year, in a French- or German-speaking environment. Without this, acceptable standards in French and German are unlikely to be reached. The full immersion into the societies of French- or German-speaking countries is also essential to allow profound insights into their living culture, which go beyond theoretical study.

  2. The cultural immersion is achieved by spending a full year at one of the currently 30 partner universities (see below Exchange programmes), or one semester of academic study and one semester of full-time internship/traineeship at approved enterprises or organizations in Europe. Language acquisition, academic studies and internship/traineeship abroad form one organic whole, although the relationship between these three can take on varying forms. Considering the variety of Year III locations as well as students’ study preferences, there is no uniform structure of Year III.

  3. Students are expected to attend regular academic courses/programmes (non-language subjects) of the host institution; they may also receive additional language training. The envisaged course of study/work will be worked out individually by the Programme Coordinators prior to Year III and in consultation with each student. Prior to departure to Europe, students will have to sign a Learning Agreement which can be altered only with the explicit consent of the Programme Coordinators.

  4. A prime purpose of the stay in Europe is linguistic and cultural immersion. This is more readily achieved when students are placed individually or in very small groups. It is to be avoided to send more than two students to the same academic institution and/or internship locations. To this end, the Programme Coordinators (in cooperation with the International Office) are in charge with seeking and maintaining a sufficient number of cooperation and exchange agreements with European academic institutions.

↑ Back to top

3.2 Special Regulations

The European Studies programme is committed to providing all students with a full Year III abroad.

Nevertheless, students should conform to specific regulations to progress into Year III (see below). If they do not conform to required foreign language standards at the end of Year II, they can be excluded from progression into Year III, even though their overall GPA may be sufficient for the given semester. The Examination Board can advise them to repeat Year II. Alternatively, the student can attend remedial language courses at her/his own cost. In this case, re-testing at the end of the academic year is mandated to make sure that the student has sufficiently caught up.

In order to progress into Year III (i.e. to Europe), students must
  1. Reach a minimum foreign language proficiency level equivalent to Grade C- at the end of Year II, semester 2 (in either FREN 2009 or German 2009); and

  2. Have obtained at least grade C- in all Year II (semesters 1 and 2) required EURO or POLS courses; and

  3. Have reached a semester 2 GPA of at least 2.0.
Students who have received an academic warning at the end of semester 2 OR are on academic probation will be excluded from Year III and must repeat Year II.

The Hong Kong Baptist University will arrange the place and programme of the Year Abroad for each student. It is at the sole discretion of the Head of Department and the Programme Coordinators to which institution students are sent and which prescribed course of study they will follow. Once a decision is taken, students themselves cannot alter the programme, unless this is warranted by special circumstances.

The Year Abroad is credit-bearing: 21 of the Elective credits / units are assigned to the two European Academic / Internship Semesters in Year III of the programme. All courses to be taken in Europe as well as the internship (if any) are 'electives'.

Students can choose courses at the receiving host institutions freely from among all courses open to exchange students. The course selection, however, has to be pre-approved by the European Studies Programme Coordinators and will be listed in a Learning Agreement for each student.

The Year Abroad is financed by the students themselves. The University provides tuition fees (if any) for the first semester academic / language study component only. The second semester is entirely self-funding. Placements in remunerated positions in companies and/or public bodies cannot be guaranteed and depend on the performance of the students as well as on availability.

Students who are not recommended for an internship may have to bear their own fees for tuition (if any) in the second semester, unless they are enrolled in one of the European Studies exchange programmes.

↑ Back to top

3.3 Nature of Work Placements

Whenever feasible, the Programme Coordinators will assist students in finding work placements. Such work placements can be in office management / support, sales, marketing, merchandizing, advertising, promoting, translation or any other type of non-specialist occupations in private enterprises or administrative, governmental or non-governmental organizations. It is envisaged that students are normally treated as novice apprentices and will receive suitable on-the-job training.

Students are free to accept or reject an internship placement suggested by the Programme Coordinator or, alternatively, to find a suitable internship on their own initiative. All internship placements have to be approved by the Programme Coordinator. The final decision for offering an internship contract rests with the company / institution in Europe. The Programme Coordinator will ensure that internship placements are compatible with European immigration and labor regulations as well as the aims/objectives of the European Studies programme. In accordance with EU regulations, students remain enrolled at our partner universities throughout their entire stay in Europe.

Placements may or may not be remunerated. Their primary purpose is to provide students with a valuable opportunity to test career aspirations, that is to decide whether a career in a European company is for them or not. Moreover, a proportion of students who make a particularly good impression on the employer may subsequently, after graduation, be offered employment with the related Hong Kong branches of these companies.

Placements may on occasion be linked with theoretical training phases at partner institutions. Students are then obliged to undergo the full training programme as specified by these institutions and participating firms.

↑ Back to top

3.4 Cultural "Acclimatization"
  1. Students will receive extensive briefings on the cultural norms they can expect to meet in Europe and the extent, if any, to which they differ from the norms they are accustomed to. These briefings take place in Hong Kong before departure.

  2. They will also be prepared for both academic study and, if possible, work experience in specially designed language training modules incorporated into the regular European Language curriculum of Year II (see Teaching and Learning Strategies).

  3. Throughout the Year Abroad, students benefit from a specifically designed support structure maintained on three levels: by the host universities, the placement providers, and the European Studies Programme Coordinators. The Programme Coordinators also maintain regular contact with the European host institutions and receiving companies.

  4. All host universities normally provide special cultural induction and acclimatization programs for newly arrived foreign students.

  5. In the case of internships, students are sent to reputable companies with good training departments, which take their responsibility for young trainees seriously.

↑ Back to top

3.5 Academic Integration of the Year Abroad
  1. The principal purpose of the year in Europe is linguistic and cultural immersion in a setting conducive to the overall goals of the European Studies programme. Depending on a variety of personal, organizational and circumstantial factors, these settings can vary considerably.

  2. The Year Abroad is bracketed by language courses employing the CLIL approach and area studies courses in Hong Kong, part of whose function is specifically to prepare students for the year abroad and to capitalize on their experience when they return. They are adapted to the envisaged special needs in Year III and the career aspirations derived from the Year Abroad.

  3. Preparatory work for the Honours Project is undertaken in Europe. Project topics can be linked to courses on Europe followed in Hong Kong before and after the Year Abroad, or on courses taken at the host universities. They can also be related to placement experiences or to a special aspect (political, social, economic) of the target language country as experienced by the student.

  4. The students' progress in linguistic, personal and academic terms will be monitored by a visiting staff member from the Hong Kong Baptist University, as well as e-mail and, where necessary, telephone and fax.

  5. Students’ overall progress has to be demonstrated by written proof of class participation and successful examinations at the host institution (certificates and/or transcripts of records).

  6. In the case of internship placements, the course coordinators obtain a report or testimonial from the company/institution in which a student was employed. This report should include information on spoken and written linguistic skills, job performance, etc. Separate information on the employer will be held on file in the University.

  7. f) The student writes a detailed report on his/her experience with the host institution and (if any) the receiving company. The student report has to be written in either French or German and will be kept on file in the Department. The report is mandatory and forms part of the assessment basis of the Final Year. From AY 2014-2015 onwards this report will be submitted in the form of an e-Portfolio.

↑ Back to top

3.6 Monitoring and Assessment of the Year Abroad

Supervision and Welfare of Students

Whenever feasible, the Programme Coordinators will visit each student on location in Europe once during Year III so as to monitor progress in linguistic, personal and academic terms and to ensure smooth cooperation with the host institutions and/or firms/organizations. Approximately a day is needed for each dual visit. The visits will be documented in a detailed report. The Programme Coordinators will keep records on both student and company/institution. In this way a record of the relationship with the company/institution is built up.

Assessment

Whether the objectives of linguistic and cultural immersion are reached can be measured to some extent by (a) the acquisition of study credits under the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) scheme at the host institution and (b) the acquisition of advanced language proficiency certificates. These credits and certificates normally enable students to enroll in European Master programmes immediately after having acquired their first degree in Hong Kong. Alternatively, (c) testimonials from employers can be used to assess learning progress.

The Year Abroad has to be successfully completed before a student can be awarded a degree. An assessment is based on a portfolio of measures assembled on each student. The portfolio consists of
  1. Results of language tests carried out before and during the Year Abroad, including language examination records from the host institution;

  2. written proof of regular class attendance at the host institution and examination results (normally an ECTS Transcript of Records)

  3. Internship contract and testimonials from the internship provider;

  4. If feasible, demonstrable progress in preparatory work on the Honours Project;

  5. Written report of the student

  6. If necessary, written report on the student by the visiting Programme Coordinator.

↑ Back to top

3.7 Credit Distribution

While the primary purpose of Year III is the improvement of language and cultural proficiency, the students will in any case have to attend academic courses at the host institution, therefore to achieve measurable gains in knowledge domains relevant to the overall European Studies curriculum. Internships, on the other hand, are feasible only if a student has reached a very high proficiency level in the foreign language. It is therefore proposed to nominally divide the 21 units/credits into two subcategories:

  • 9 units / credits for intensive language acquisition in Europe. Credits are to be awarded for the competence level achieved and certified by appropriate formal language testing certificates within the Common European Framework of Reference of the Council of Europe (CEFR Levels B2 / C1 "Operational Mastery" : e.g. DSH, TestDaF, DELF / DALF, TECF, TEF or university course equivalents).

  • 12 units / credits for the successful completion of the study / internship programme at the host university; to be certified by a Transcript of Records and/or Diploma obtained and/or internship / traineeship assessment by HKBU/GIS, host company and Chambers of Commerce, where applicable.
This is less than the average study load at HKBU but takes into account that students move in an entirely unfamiliar linguistic, cultural and academic environment and so may need time to adapt fully. Students are encouraged to acquire more than the minimum number of ECTS credit points. The maximum that students could reasonably be expected to achieve is 60 ECTS credit points p.a., which is also the upper limit for European students moving between countries and universities (e.g. Erasmus exchange students).

HKBU credit/units = ECTS Credit Points Descriptor
9 18 Language
12 24 Academic Study / Internship

21 units / credits at HKBU are equivalent to 42 credit points in the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (see next section). All these credits must be acquired on location in Europe and cannot normally be substituted by courses at the home university. However, should the host university not offer a sufficient amount of dedicated language courses at the appropriate advanced level, the 9 units / credits for language can be substituted wholly or partially by credits for academic courses in the foreign language. Alternatively, students can be asked to sit successfully for TestDaF or DELF examinations in the first semester of Year IV. These arrangements ensure that at the onset of Year IV all students of the programme reach comparable levels of advanced language proficiency even if conditions at the study locations may have varied.

As is already practice in the programme, all students are language-tested prior to Year III. In order to progress into Year III (i.e. to Europe), they must reach a minimum foreign language proficiency level equivalent to CEFR / B1 at the end of Year II, semester 2. Because of this language threshold, it can safely be assumed that they are then capable on principle to acquire at least 21 credits in Europe in the course of one academic year. For students with no convincing and documented reasons for not being able to having acquired a sufficient number of credits (ECTS credit points) in Europe at the end of Year III, and for students of borderline cases (i.e. if a student has slightly less than the required minimum number of credits, and in light of language testing results, an oral assessment of the student to be conduced in the foreign language, a report written by the student and all other documented evidence), it will be at the discretion of the Head of Department and the Programme Coordinators to allow / not allow progression into Year IV. However, it should be noted that EU immigration regulations normally do not allow a repeat of Year III in Europe or an extension of the study visa beyond two semesters. Students would have to acquire missing Year III units/credits by enrolling in suitable HKBU courses in Year IV.

↑ Back to top

3.8. Assessment of Year III

There is no uniform global standard for assessing students across different institutions in different national study systems. In light of this variety, the European Studies programme must retain a measure of flexibility so as to be fair to all students.

European universities use the outcome-based European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) (cf. European Communities (Ed.) (2009). European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). Luxemburg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities [http://ec.europa.eu/education/tools/docs/ects-guide_en.pdf, online 19 June 2014]. We can make use of this system, as European universities are obliged to provide ECTS Transfer of Records documentation for each exchange student.

The ECTS system awards ECTS credit points and assigns ECTS grades. Current practice at HKBU and its partner universities equals one HKBU unit/credit to two ECTS credit points. ECTS credit points are given when and if the student attends all classes and fulfills course requirements (i.e. has passed by way of stipulated oral and/or written examination, project work, etc.). ECTS grades reflect how well a student has performed in a particular course. The ECTS grading system, however, differs significantly from the HKBU system and is also interpreted differently in the various European Union member states. It is therefore proposed to transfer ECTS credit points only according to the following formula:

Credit Transfer Formula

1 HKBU unit / credit = 2 ECTS credit points

HKBU reserves the right to refuse to grant units for courses which the student took without the Programme Coordinator’s approval and which are not deemed to be equivalent to HKBU standards (cf. HKBU General Regulations for Undergraduate Degree Programmes, # 9.5 and 9.6). Furthermore, in order to transfer credits, the student must have fulfilled minimum requirements of the courses at the host institutions, normally equivalent to grade "E" in the European system. A comparison with national grading systems (France / Germany) indicates that this is still a fairly satisfactory result in the HKBU system (roughly in the range of grade “C” in Hong Kong):

Sample European Grading / Conversion Scale (German / French Universities)

National Grade
(Germany)
ECTS Grade National Grade
(France)
1,0 A Excellent 16-20 points
1,7 B Very good 14-15
2,3 C Good 12-13
3,0 D Satisfactory 11
3,7 E Sufficient 10
4,7 FX Provisional Fail;
supplementary work required
8-9 (‘pass’ under certain conditions)
5,0 F Fail 0-7 (or sometimes 8)

Provided that these requirements are fulfilled, students then transfer a minimum of 42 ECTS points, to be converted into 21 HKBU units / credits. These 21 units / credits are an integral, compulsory part of the overall study load of European Studies (128 units / credits). However, given the lack of uniform grading definitions in Europe and in line with # 8.7 of the HKBU General Regulations for Undergraduate Degree Programmes, these 21 units / credits are recorded without inclusion in the grade point average calculation. Therefore, the cumulative Grade Point Average (cGPA) for the European Studies degree will only be calculated on the basis of units and grades that are attained at HKBU:

Sample cGPA Calculation Basis for the B.Soc.Sc. (Hons) in European Studies

128 (or more; full study load) – 21 (European units/credits) = 107 units/credits for cGPA

If a student has the opportunity of an internship / traineeship, this becomes part of the overall Year III programme and must be included in the assessment scheme. A semester-long internship/traineeship on principle equals one semester of academic study and therefore is equivalent to 12 ECTS credit points (6 HKBU units / credits). Students may have to take on a study load higher than the stipulated minimum in semester 1 should the receiving internship company / organization require special knowledge / skills preparation.

To award HKBU units / credits for an internship/traineeship, the following documents are required:
  1. Pre-approved internship placement with formal internship contract between student and receiving company / institution / organization;
  2. company testimonial and/or formal assessment of the student’s performance, including a statement how and in which areas/divisions the student was employed and trained;
  3. student internship report / portfolio (to be written in the foreign language) from the student.
Further evidence can be taken into account (e.g. progress reports of the student while in Europe, feedback from company managers, etc.). The 6 HKBU units/credits are then awarded the HKBU grade “S” (Satisfactory) at the discretion of the Head of Department and the Programme Coordinators. The successful completion of the internship / traineeship will be confirmed by a formal Transcript Supplement to the HKBU Transcript of Academic Record.

An HKBU Grade ‘F’ will be assigned if the student’s employment contract was prematurely cancelled by the company. If a company gives a negative student assessment but nonetheless did not terminate the internship contract prematurely, the Head of Department and the Programme Coordinators will assess all evidence carefully (including detailed written and oral statements from the student and the company involved). Should it turn out that the internship failure was not or not entirely attributable to student nonperformance, the Head of Department and the Programme Coordinators can award grade “S” at their discretion.

↑ Back to top

3.9 Regulation for Credit Transfer of Year III
  1. A minimum number of 21 credits have to be transferred from Year 3 in Europe. These credits cannot be earned before commencement of Year 3. A maximum of 30 credits can be transferred.

  2. A conditional pass to Year 4 would be awarded if a minimum of 15 credits have been transferred from Europe. The student would be required to take two HKBU courses (free electives of Level 3 or higher) upon return to make up for the 6 missing credits.

  3. Students transferring less than 15 credits are liable for academic dismissal.

  4. The transcript will reflect the number of units gained in each semester. No grade will be awarded and cGPA will not be affected.

  5. There will be no transcript supplement upon graduation.

↑ Back to top

3.10 Additional Credit Transfer

Students are encouraged to obtain more than the required minimum number of 12 units / credits within the study / internship subcategory, as corresponding academic courses will automatically be listed in the Transcript Supplement provided by the host institution. They will therefore become part of the student’s official Transcript of Academic Record.

Students who complete more than 42 credits in Europe can apply for transfer up to a maximum of six additional credits as a substitute for either core courses of the Major, Electives or GE courses (Distribution Requirements) if the offering HKBU Departments / Programmes confirm their equivalency. Students are strongly advised to consult Departments / Programmes at HKBU before they enroll in such courses in Europe. Credits for language courses in addition to the stipulated 9 units / credits cannot be transferred back to HKBU.

A student failing the Year Abroad would have to repeat it, either in whole or in part (at the discretion of the Programme Management Committee). The award of the degree would be withheld until the Year Abroad is satisfactorily completed.

↑ Back to top

3.11 Legal Aspects

Students have to obtain regular student visas from the country / countries they are going to. Working visas are normally not required, provided that an internship is arranged by Hong Kong Baptist University and thereby becomes an integrated and required component of the curriculum. The visa processing for holders of BNO, SAR or mainland Chinese passports may differ, and students are required to apply early according to prevailing EU visa stipulations. They may also have to provide proof of sufficient financial means for the duration of their stay in Europe. The visa applications may be assisted by the Hong Kong Baptist University, if necessary also by providing limited financial assistance (see next section).

The Year Abroad is a required part of the degree program in European Studies. Students in Europe remain registered at the Hong Kong Baptist University. Therefore, a registration fee is levied on students. The University issues a certificate confirming the student status. At the same time, students must officially register with the host institution for the prescribed length of study. They are obliged to bear any fees demanded by the institution (such as registration, insurance cover or social fees) other than immediate tuition fees, which are borne by Hong Kong Baptist University.

Students employed by companies in Europe normally continue to be registered students either or both at HKBU and the host institution. However, as employees they also automatically have to join the national mandatory social security funds and taxation systems, as prescribed by law in the various countries.

Both as students and employees, European Studies students have comprehensive health cover in all member states of the European Union. In addition, Hong Kong Baptist University provides each student with additional travel, health and repatriation insurance cover as a matter of course. The cover is valid throughout the Year Abroad, not however exceeding 12 months in length. If the stay exceeds 12 months, students would have to arrange for additional private insurance cover.

↑ Back to top

3.12 Cost of Year Abroad to Students

The Year Abroad is financed by students themselves. The overall cost for the student is currently (2014-15) estimated to be in the range of 13,000 – 15,000 € p.a. The Hong Kong Baptist University bears no responsibility for financial outlays necessary for the Year Abroad, including the airfare to and from Europe. It will, however, cover tuition fee costs (if any), inasmuch as this program is organized and/or mandated by the European Studies programme itself.

In the case of internships, students may receive remuneration. This is normally sufficient to cover accommodation and living expenses during the internship period. However, a remunerated position cannot be guaranteed. Students have no right to claim a remunerated placement in a company during their stay in Europe. Remunerated positions will depend on availability and, to a large extent, on the student’s suitability and performance.

Students have to pay the full tuition fees to HKBU for the year abroad.

To secure the Year Abroad for all students regardless of their personal financial background, the Hong Kong Baptist University has set aside a special rollover fund. This fund offers the possibility of a low-interest loan for Year III. The loan is not means-tested and is obtainable upon formal application at the end of Year II. It is repayable in installments immediately upon graduation. Currently (2014), students can obtain a maximum of 40,000 HK$.

↑ Back to top

3.13 Exchange Programmes

The European Studies Programme and the Department of Government and International Studies maintain student exchange programmes with universities in Europe. Under these programmes, European Studies students can attend regular university courses (including limited language training) at the host institution cost-free. In return, European students are received within the International Exchange Programme of Hong Kong Baptist University. Currently, the following programmes are operated:

French Stream
  1. École Supérieure des Sciences Commerciales (ESSCA), Angers
  2. Centre International d’Etudes Françaises, Université Catholique de l’Ouest, Angers
  3. Institut de Management Europe-Asie (ISUGA), Quimper
  4. École Supérieure de Commerce de Brest
  5. Centre International d'Etude des Langues (CIEL), Brest
  6. Ecole de Management de Normandie, Caen
  7. École Supérieure de Commerce, Dijon
  8. Institut d'Etudes Politiques (Science-po), Lille
  9. Institut d'Etudes Politiques (Science-po), Paris
  10. Institut d'Etudes Politiques (Science-po), Rennes
  11. Institut d'Etudes Politiques (Science-po), Strasbourg
  12. Institut d'Etudes Politiques (Science-po), Toulouse
  13. Institut d'Etudes Politiques (Science-po), Bordeaux
  14. Université La Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris III, Paris
German Stream
  1. Hochschule für Wirtschaft und Recht Berlin (Berlin School of Economics and Law)
    (Economics / Business Administration)
  2. Europäische Fachhochschule Rhein / Erft (European University of Applied Sciences)
    (Faculty of Trade Management)
  3. Fachhochschule Düsseldorf (University of Applied Sciences)
    (Department of Business Studies : International Business / Communication and Multimedia)
  4. Universität Erfurt
    (Staatswissenschaftliche Fakultät / Philosophische Fakultät)
  5. Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen
    (FB 5 / Sprache, Literatur, Kultur)
  6. Universität Göttingen
    (Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Philosophische Fakultät)
  7. Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz / Austria
    (Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences)
  8. Ruprecht Karls Universität Heidelberg
    (Fakultät für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften)
  9. Hochschule Heilbronn (University of Applied Sciences)
    (FB Wirtschaft I/II / School of Business)
  10. HTWG Konstanz (University of Applied Sciences)
    (Business Administration/ Wirtschaftssprachen Asien und Management)
  11. Universität Leipzig
    (non-specified)
  12. Georg-Simon-Ohm Fachhochschule Nürnberg (University of Applied Sciences)
    (International Business Programme)
  13. Fachhochschule Offenburg (University of Applied Sciences)
    (Faculty of Business Studies / Media and Information Engineering)
  14. Universität Witten / Herdecke
    (Faculty of Economics and Management)
  15. Universtät Leuphana, Lueneburg
    (Cultural Studies)
  16. Europa Universität Viadrina Frankfurt/Oder
    (European Studies)
  17. Universität Regensburg
    (Business Studies/Political Science/German as a Foreign Language)
  18. Ludwigshafen University of Applied Sciences
    (Logistics / East Asia Institute)
  19. German Stream students can also study at these institutions (special conditions apply):

  20. Wissenschaftliche Hochschule für Unternehmensführung Koblenz-Vallendar
    (Otto Beisheim Graduate School of Management)
  21. Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz (University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzer-land)
    (School of Business – International)

↑ Back to top