An important component of university education is to develop a better understanding of the world, not just academically but also socially. Student exchange is a means to achieve this goal by enabling students study at an environment different from their home country and institution.
Q.2. What are the financial issues involved for an exchange student?
The university tuition/scholarship situation remains unchanged for the exchange student. The student continues to receive his scholarship or pay his tuition to his home institution (Bilkent University) as he would do otherwise, of the same amount.
An exchange visit involves several other costs as well, such as the travel, accommodation, and living expenses. These expenses can be expected roughly to be in the order of 1000 USD/month, although this figure may vary significantly depending on the place as well as the person.
Erasmus students receive an EU support of 400 Euro/month to cover part of their expenses.
Q.3. Is housing provided to exchange students at the host universities?
This depends on the particular host institution and their availability of on-campus housing. Most universities provide some sort of housing (mostly on-campus dormitories) for a certain fee.
Q.4. Who can apply for the exchange program?
Bilkent students who will have completed two years of study at Bilkent by the time of the exchange and who satisfy the minimum GPA requirements (see question below) can apply. Irregular students with an equivalent of 1.5 years of coursework may also be eligible depending on the particular situation.
Q.5. Can't I go to exchange on the 4th year?
The ideal time for going to exchange is one's 3rd year in college, so that the student will have a chance during his 4th year to complete the courses he couldn't find at the host institution and will be able to graduate in time. (See the question below on the transfer of courses.) A student who goes to exchange on his 4th year will most probably have to delay his graduation for one or two semesters.
Q.6. How can I apply for the exchange program?
Application for the Erasmus exchange is done through the departmental coordinators; and application for the other exchanges are done through the Office of Student Affairs. Applications for non-Erasmus exchanges are typically received in mid Fall semester; Erasmus applications are received in early Spring. The exact application deadlines and the requirements are announced each year by e-mail to the Bilkent student body.
Q.7. Is there a GPA requirement for exchange applications?
Bilkent is very selective about the students it sends for exchange. The minimum cumulative GPA requirement is 2.5 for Erasmus and 3.0 for the general exchange applications, although the actual GPA of the selected students tends to be much higher. Any possible changes that may occur on this requirement will be specified in the announcement e-mail. If the cGPA of a student falls below 2.5 at any point before semester at the host institution starts, the exchange will be canceled; i.e. the student will lose his/her spot for the Erasmus program.
Q.8. How does the quality of education at partner universities compare to that at Bilkent?
As the Bilkent CS Department, we do exchange agreements only with the best universities of the world. All of our exchange partners are among the most established universities of their countries, and most of them have been listed among the World's Top 200 Universities according the Times Higher Education Supplement.
Q.9. Can I study in English at the universities of non-English speaking countries?
Most of our exchange partners have their undergraduate education in the language of their country, with the exception of some Northern European universities which offer some of their courses also in English for international students. For the universities that offer courses only in their native language, proficiency in that language is a condition we require for a student to be eligible.
Q.10. How is the course program determined for the exchange students?
Once the student is selected for exchange with a particular university, he should go to that university's course catalog webpage and identify the courses that are suitable. These courses can either be the equivalent of a Bilkent CS course, or otherwise can be taken as a technical or non-technical elective. (I encourage students to take the exchange as an opportunity for taking courses they find interesting which are not offered at their home university.) The departmental coordinator and the student then go over the course list and finalize the courses that will be taken.
Q.11. Are the grades received in the exchange included in my cumulative GPA at Bilkent?
The credits of the courses taken in the exchange are transfered towards the student's degree at Bilkent, but their grades are not included in the CGPA.
Q.12. Is there a grade requirement for the courses taken in the exchange?
A passing grade is required for a course to be accepted for the student's degree at Bilkent, which usually means a grade C or higher.
Moreover, an Erasmus student is expected to pass at least 80% of the courses taken in the exchange. Otherwise, the student may be required to return the Erasmus financial support he has received.
Q.13. What if I can't find some of my required courses at the exchange university?
It is very rare that the course offerings of two departments agree exactly and the exchange student can find all his required courses at the host institution. Typically there will be courses that are missing, in which case the student will take other courses instead that can be counted towards his 4th year electives, and will take the missing courses upon his return to Bilkent.
Due to this kind of mismatches, the 4th year program of an exchange student is likely to be irregular. Nevertheless, most students see this as a small inconvenience that is well outweighed by the benefits of the exchange experience.
Q.14. Will going to exchange cause a delay in my graduation?
No, going to exchange typically does not cause a delay in the student's
graduation. As long as the student goes to exchange in his 3rd year, he
will have another year after his return to Bilkent to complete any courses
he has missed. An exception to this can happen if the student chooses to
go to exchange during his 4th year.