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CME More Popular in Cambridge

By Yinuo Qian

The Cambridge-MIT Undergraduate Exchange, the British school’s only exchange program with a U.S. university, has seen higher student demand from Cambridge students than MIT students, consistent with previous years. About 50 MIT students applied to the program this year, according to Senior Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education Margaret S. Enders. Cambridge, on the other hand, had an applicant pool of over 100 students. Started in 2000, CME is a one-year program for third-year undergraduates, who pay normal tuition to their own universities.

Of the 41 MIT sophomores accepted into the program, 32 have accepted so far. At least 38 Cambridge students plan to come to MIT next year.

As part of the agreement between MIT and Cambridge, participants from each school must be roughly balanced. Currently, each school sends about 40 students, but “It is hoped that this figure will increase slightly in the future,” the University of Cambridge Web site states.

Unless more MIT students apply, the program cannot expand, Enders said. Fifty-five MIT students applied to the program last year.

According to Enders, there are many reasons MIT students decide to remain on campus for all of their academic years. MIT students often participate in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program and other long-term programs, which require commitments on-campus during the academic year. Students who have already been accepted may also hesitate to actually go to Cambridge because of the discomfort of being exposed to another culture and being away from their current friends, Enders said. Additionally MIT students may be concerned that it may be difficult to pursue a second degree if they go. This is not an issue for Cambridge students, who are not eligible to get more than one degree.

The CME office and fifteen participating MIT departments advertise the program via e-mail and information sessions throughout the year. According to Course VI administrator Anne M. Hunter, sixteen course VI students applied this year and fourteen have been admitted. The department coordinators also go over the prerequisites for each student and write recommendations.

Course VI professor Tayo I. Akinwande said that students will definitely benefit from the very different academic and social atmosphere abroad.

“MIT teaches you to solve problems of all kinds and Cambridge teaches you which problems are worth solving,” Course II CME coordinator Gareth H. McKinley PhD ’91 said. “The combination of both viewpoints provides a fantastic and uniquely international viewpoint of world-leading engineering education.”

Ting Wen ’08, who was accepted into the program and plans to study at Cambridge next year, said that MIT students can see how classes are conducted at Cambridge and make “tons of friends.”

Addressing possible student concerns about their GPA and degrees, Enders said that most students GPA’s are improved after returning from Cambridge.

Nationally, almost two-thirds of students who study abroad are female. Similarly, more women apply to the CME program than men, Enders said. Any students still interested in applying for this fall can contact her or a department coordinator to get more information, she said.