Of Summer Schools and Conferences
An active user of LinkedIn might have noticed the verbal to and fro going on in the last week of December regarding a certain Ivy League conference being organised in Mumbai. Despite the massive brand name attached, stories arose of people getting instantaneous acceptance to the conference, often with applications deliberately written improperly. All of this begs the question: what is the actual value of these conferences?
Ivy League schools often need money for the same purposes that CBS does; better infrastructure, more resources and more opportunities. Although schools in the US charge a substantial fee, popularised through horror stories of crushing student loan debt, the truth is that it is still not enough. Nobel Laureates as faculty and upkeep of heritage buildings cannot come cheap and the matter of the fact is that these conferences are a way for the administrative offices of these schools to utilise their brand name for sure cash flows.
Similarly, a rising trend can also be seen of people going to schools abroad for a summer that often mean a fortune for the typical Indian middle-class. For example, LSE offers a session at 2.3 lakhs for a period of roughly 3 weeks. This is in addition to accommodation and travel fees, which still might seem fine if one is looking for the LSE tag on their resume. However, contrast this with an organisation called Oxford Summer Courses that offers a similar program for 3.4 lakhs including accommodation. However, if one carefully notices, he or she can see the following statement: “Oxford Summer Courses is an organisation ….which has no formal connection with the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and London.”
It is true that summer programmes give students an insight into foreign education and provide them with an opportunity to learn from some of the best professors in the world and indeed, many participants feel that they gain a sense of understanding of issues outside the classroom and that it allows them to interact with people across India and across the globe as well. However, it is important to keep in mind that these programs, while full of learning, may not always carry the prestige of the big names they bear and a little research and not blindly running after brands may actually help students in the long run.