By all accounts, Oxford trip enriched beyond classroom
Clemson University’s School of Accountancy believes there’s more to the profession than teaching the financial aspects of a business. So, beyond the debits and credits, doors are open for students to learn life skills that prepare them for a global business environment.
This summer, 30 Clemson students got down to business in the school’s study abroad program at the University of Oxford. Under the tutelage of Clemson accountancy and legal studies faculty Ralph Welton and Edward Claggett, students were exposed to much more than the prestigious university in the United Kingdom, founded in the 11th century.
Though the roots of this study abroad program go back to a multi-country program in 2000, the Oxford program got off the ground in 2012. It’s one of two summer study abroad programs for undergraduate business students organized by the School of Accountancy, with the other destination being Rome.
The school’s study abroad coordinator, Judson Jahn said, above all, this College of Business program teaches students how to be professionals and about life beyond what they’ve experienced.
“This trip really enhances students’ inter-cultural skills, which employers want in an employee as they often work in global environments,” Jahn said. “We conduct an inter-cultural survey before and after the study abroad program and have seen significant improvement in students’ inter-cultural ranking post-trip. Even in a four-week program, in an English-speaking country, students grow inter-culturally.”
Courses are taught by Welton, Jahn, Claggett, and Liz David-Barrett from Oxford. Students get the full complement of Oxford from the classroom to Monday evening lectures, receptions and guest lecturers on business and cultural topics.
The six-credit accountancy courses are taught at Magdalen College, one of Oxford’s 44 colleges and halls. The summer session begins at Clemson for two weeks, then four weeks are spent in the United Kingdom for study in cost accounting, intermediate financial accounting, business law and operating legally and ethically in international business.
Students from all majors can apply for the program, but must have a minimum 3.0 GPA. The department’s Master of Professional Accountancy (MPAcc) program also offers a summer session at Oxford. The international accounting course is taught in Greenville and abroad and involves many of the same cultural experiences.
Hannah Maiberger, a junior, majoring in health science and minoring in business administration and accounting, said the experience beyond the classroom was one of the Oxford program’s biggest benefits.
“Beyond the honor of getting to study at one of the world’s most prestigious universities, it was eye-opening to see how others view the U.S., as well as how their cultures are similar and different to ours,” she said. “My experience this summer has helped me to realize and embrace the differences between myself and others. Also, being exposed to the global culture and seeing how other countries conduct business, govern, and spend their leisure time has given me a better appreciation for our culture.”
Some of that cultural exposure comes through optional travel on three- and four-day weekends that are built into the itinerary. Opportunities are available to explore the United Kingdom, or optional side trips can be taken to Dublin, Brussels and Paris.
Sophomore Kristin Agosta also agreed the trip’s biggest takeaway was the education she received beyond the curriculum. In addition to weekend trips to Barcelona and Ireland, she elected to take her homework outside the dorm to more public places like coffee shops to absorb some of the local culture. Those experiences brought to bear some important lessons in people skills.
“Being directly exposed to someone else’s way of life and their viewpoints opens your eyes and mind to new ideas and makes you realize that your way of doing things is not always the right way,” the accounting major said. “The experience taught me tolerance and respectfulness in appreciating others’ ideas and how they see the world. Being open-minded to ideas and beliefs other than your own has real implications in the business world, also.”
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