Dual campus program: An overseas study experience beyond the typical student exchange

As a soon-to-be or current university student, going on a study abroad program is probably a milestone in your uni experience that you’re eagerly anticipating. Scrolling through your Instagram feed, you might have oohed and aahed at the glamorous photos of your seniors or friends from public universities on exchange – snapshots of them having a blast with newfound friends, exploring the gorgeous buildings of their campus, going on weekend trips to quaint little towns.

For students from private education institutions, however, there’s a somewhat lesser-known option that similarly involves a stint of studying abroad at a partner university – dual campus transfer programs. Such programs can offer you a range of cultural experiences just as incredible, if not even more so!

AUS-project mates
Hilda, a student from PSB Academy who studied in University of Newcastle, with her project mates

How does a dual campus experience work?

Many private institutions work with international university partners from countries like Australia and the UK, with some partnerships taking the form of a dual campus program. Through this program, students in Singapore have the option of transferring their studies to the partner university’s campus.

What really sets dual campus transfers apart is that they typically have more flexibility regarding the duration of your stay, as well as the types of activities beyond school that you can do. Take PSB Academy’s partnership with Australia’s University of Newcastle (UON) for example. Under their dual campus program, PSB students can apply to transfer to UON’s main campus in New South Wales at any point in their studies. This means you can choose exactly when and how long you want your study abroad to be, and tailor the depth of cultural immersion to what works best for you – one semester might offer you a solid immersion in the culture of the place, while a two-year stay would make you practically one of the locals!

Furthermore, depending on the country you’re heading to, dual campus transfers are often able to offer a wider range of activities beyond the campus. For example, PSB students transferring to UON’s main campus will travel on an Australian student visa that would legally allow them to work there, either part-time (while courses are ongoing) or full-time (during term breaks). Other than being a great way to cover the costs of your extended stay, working means you get valuable experience with other aspects of life abroad such as the professional sector.

In short, how the dual campus experience works is that you effectively become one of their students once you transfer to the partner university’s campus – far from simply passing through for exchange, you get to study, work and live there long-term just as a local student would!

Why seize the chance to experience a dual campus program?

1. Gain valuable experience & boost your resume
As mentioned earlier, it’s often possible for transferring students to work part-time, depending on your host country – PSB students hopping over to UON, for one, can do so on their student visa. While entering a different professional environment may sound daunting – you never know when you might commit a super embarrassing faux pas in front of your boss – it can also be the perfect stepping stone for your post-grad career success.

It’s usual, for example, for PSB students under UON’s dual campus program to graduate in Australia and stay on for work. In this case, your dual campus experience can be a fantastic launchpad for propelling you into the industry. By the time you enter the workplace, you’ll have familiarity with the culture plus a wide network of contacts to draw upon.

Even if you don’t intend to pursue a career in your host country, there’re tons of ways your dual campus experience can give your resume that extra sparkle it needs. For instance, if you dream of working in multi-national corporations, showing your international work experience will give you a huge edge. And soft skills you pick up from working in an unfamiliar context, such as adaptability, are definitely transferable across your career!

Hilda Low is a Bachelor of Business graduate who transferred to Australia’s University of Newcastle in her final semester through PSB Academy’s dual campus program, and she has landed a job with an American MNC as a marketing coordinator right after graduation!

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Hilda at the Australia international students farewell party

2. Grow as a person
Studying abroad can be nerve-wracking to say the least – from being surrounded by familiar faces, you’ve just transplanted yourself into all-new territory. Adjusting to the Aussie environment, Hilda says, was definitely tough. “If I’d continued my course in Singapore, I’d be familiar with the lecturers and course mates… When I went to Australia, I had to understand the teaching style and find new project mates, on top of adapting to the culture. While I was technically a senior, I felt like a freshman.”

Sounds challenging? But it’s also through facing the unknown that we develop into confident, resilient people, making studying abroad a great way to discover our inner strength. Being away from friends and family can feel lonely, but this enables us to become self-reliant. Despite all her struggles, Hilda reflects that they have ignited her sense of courage: “I feel a lot braver having studied abroad, communicating with people from different backgrounds and exploring on my own.”

3. Figure out how to manage your money
What’s the golden key to becoming wealthy? According to Warren Buffett, one of the world’s most successful investors with a net worth of 76 billion USD, the answer is frugality, along with breaking your bad money habits. Since it’s always difficult to change our habits, the lifestyle change you’ll undergo by transferring to a different campus makes it the ideal time to learn how to manage your money – your future, wealthier self will thank you for it!

According to Hilda, her dual campus experience instilled healthy habits: “It’s become second nature for me to be thrifty, a habit difficult to inculcate when I was with my family.” If you’d like some idea of the numbers you might juggle with, she helpfully gave us a breakdown of her spending:

“Tuition fees in Australia cost me close to 12, 000 SGD, compared to 6, 500 SGD in Singapore. I stayed at an off-campus accommodation which cost 160 AUD [around 171 SGD] per week. To offset my spending, I worked 8-10hours  a week as a part-time server in the school canteen. The pay was decent, about 100 AUD [around 107 SGD] – not enough to cover weekly rent, but more than enough to pay for groceries and other needs.”

4. Try out activities you’ve never done
While we all love our little red dot, there’s no denying that there’re a lot of activities you just can’t do in Singapore – mountain biking, paragliding, having a snowball fight, and the list goes on. Depending on where you’re going, taking up a stint abroad is the perfect way to experience all those bucket-list activities that you’ve been dreaming about. And the best part is that through studying and living on campus, you’ll have no problem finding a group of like-minded friends to go adventuring with.

Hilda exploring Sydney with her friend!
Hilda exploring Sydney with her friend!

And speaking of which…

5. Form beautiful friendships
There’s no better time to meet new people when you’re young and free, and exploring the world is always more fun with good company. Going on a dual campus transfer will give you the chance to form strong friendships with people from different backgrounds and create unforgettable memories together. These are takeaways you would never have if you were a tourist travelling to the country. Hence, grab the chance to live like a local in a foreign place!

Hilda had that experience as well , as she reflected on her learning:
“I often got the chance to reflect on the cultural differences and behaviours I experienced, on my work ethic, and on how I communicated and built relationships – thoughts that wouldn’t have occurred if I were in Singapore and in my comfort zone.”

Hilda receiving student leaders award
Hilda receiving student leaders award

How to apply for a dual campus transfer?

Generally, if you’re already a student, you should consult your international admissions or study abroad programs office to explore your transfer options. Even if you already have a good idea of your choice of program, there’s often a surprising range of programs you might not have heard about!

Once you’ve set your heart on a partner university and had your application processed, you can then indicate your acceptance of the offer (once it’s made) and pay your deposit, if any. Nearer the date of your grand adventure, you’ll also need to apply for a student visa, and make arrangements about flights and accommodations.

The good news is that it is not hard at all for students to get into the dual campus program  and gain the invaluable overseas experience. According to Hilda,  ”it isn’t uncommon for students in the UoN Singapore campus to transfer over to the campus in Australia. I had some friends who were already there (some opted to experience a 1-year study in Australia.)”

Get ready for your adventure

Ultimately, it’s all about what you make of the experience – with all the wonderful opportunities that the dual campus program can hold, it’s up to you to take up the challenge. By seizing the chance to make your university journey even more enriching, you’ll be able to look back on your time there as a meaningful and memorable experience. As famously pronounced  by Saint Augustine : ” The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page .”