Like many of those committed to professional development, one avenue that I keep a close watch on are summer schools. The best thing about summer schools is that they are often for a few short weeks each year, making it easier to find the time off. Compared to distance learning, you’re getting tuition, and for anyone who has experienced substantial distance learning knows that this is a vastly underestimated factor. Evening courses are different still, as you’re able to get a clean break from the career for a short time, to gain these skills without the interruption of professional pressures, and a sun-dried mind by the time you leave work that day.
This post had been sitting in draft format for over a year, but never the less it’s ever topical. After conducting the research in 2010, I opted to spend two weeks out in Beijing, on the joint summer school between the London School of Economics, and Peking University, studying a mid-level undergraduate course on Multinational Business Finance. My reasons were:
- Topic - Related directly to my immediate career, and as such received funding.
- Intensity - Two weeks. That’s less holiday spent than many other courses, and also a week less than the LSE’s London summer school despite the courses being of the same number of hours.Travel – I got to travel to China, and experience the Asian dragon first hand.
- Prestige - Both the LSE and Peking University are leading institutions globally.
- Price - Coupling socialist Europe and communist China means that two week course was cheaper than even the London three week summer school and cheaper than the majority of summer schools.
I want to confirm that is was an excellent experience, and one I would definitely consider doing again, and there were a surprising number of professionals as well as students.
For 2011, I decided to stay in local with the LSE’s London summer school, although I had been seriously considering Utrecht’s offerings. LSE-Peking this year, have now entirely shifted to very niche China specific subjects, removing the mix of more general theoretical courses with China as a case study as with 2010.
So, lets begin the review for 2011.
London School of Economics
LSE runs four different summer schools. The courses focus on economics, finance, management and other social sciences. These courses are all intense. Compared to 2010, prices have crept higher.
The first is the London summer school. This is divided into two sessions of three weeks, where a student is able to study for one module. Modules are the same as a standard UK university module, or an the LSE half-module (7.5 ECTS). The cost of which is approximately £1300 for students and £1725 for everyone else (one session), with additional bonus of accommodation being free if you’re in London like myself. 10% discount available for summer school, LSE students and alumni (and I even received this as an external student).
The second is the Executive summer school, designed to provide very specific training for professionals, again in London. There are two sessions lasting one week but do have the added advantage of a good networking occasion. Cost is very high, at least £3000 per week session. This is aimed at those with a lot of corporate income, or corporate backing.
The third is the LSE-PKU Summer School held in Peking University in Beijing as seen last year. This summers school is similar material to the LSE London summer school, but offers courses with a Chinese emphasis. The number of courses are limited, and there are a few shared with the London summer school. However it is both cheaper and compressed more than London, two weeks in length, and costing £1050 as opposed to £900 in 2010. With student/alumni and early discount, this is £850, only £40 more than the equivalent last year.
New this year is the Macroeconomics Summer Programme, aimed for postgraduate students in the field of economics. Courses are very specialized, but not being an executive summer school, comparable in cost with the other two summer schools at £1300 for two weeks for students.
Helsinki Summer School
Operated jointly by a number of institutes, this summer school focuses on urban planning and environmental issues. The courses are lasting half a day at most. The school lasts three weeks, seem to have plenty of time to do other things while you are there, and costs only 450 euros and are worth 6 ECTS.
Utrecht Summer School
Joint venture between Utrecht University and the HU University of Applied Sciences, Utrecht has the largest range of courses, covering the sciences, social science and humanities. Courses vary between 1 week to 6, prices vary from 400 to 5000 euros, which makes it very affordable. Beyond this, a very important selling point is the courses range from pre-University to PhD level. This is a very well established summer school, first running in 1987 and has a busy social calendar as well.
One point to note in particular are that some courses take place in locations around Europe, especially in the fields of the EU and business. Examples include global justice at The Hague, case study of European textiles industry in Italy, visiting the European Parliament in Brussels, history of art in Florence and Berlin, and looking at European integration in Estonia.
Copenhagen Business School
A good range of business modules at undergraduate and graduate level at Copenhagen Business School. These course last six weeks and you’re required to take two. There are a few intense 3 weeks courses. According to the number of hours that should be studied, this is full time and will require a lot of independant studying. There is an alterative intense version of these courses, that take three weeks followed by a three week project/exams. This summer school is extremely cheap, costing for undergraduate, £207 to some postgraduates at roughly £612. The time required out limits how useful this is.
University of California, Berkeley
A top-tier institution in California, with a huge range of courses. Like Copenhagen, they tend towards studying multiple courses along the whole duration of the two month summer school, which limits its use for those in work. Strangely for the US, for the amount of studying you do – on paper at least, it looks very reasonable and comparable to European institutions in price – costing about $6000 for the whole session. Few courses are three weeks, others are six, eight or ten weeks. I’ll let you guess which side of that the quantitative subjects are.
I’ll look at some more summer options in a future blog post.