Scholar Ship turns study into plain sailing

An Australian university is lending its academic authority to a project offering undergraduates and masters students the opportunity to study on a liner cruising halfway around the world.

Macquarie University will award transferable credits to students who complete a 16-week programme on the Scholar Ship, expected to embark on its first cruise in January 2007.

The idea is to mix students of different nationalities and cultures to prepare them for a global economy by "enhancing their intercultural competence and leadership skills".

The ship will be operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises. Last week, the company was unable to specify which flag it would sail under other than to confirm it would be that of a Caribbean nation. Most of its vessels are registered in the Bahamas or in Panama, both identified by the International Workers' Transport Federation as potential flags of convenience.

Robert Wood, professor of sociology, anthropology and criminal justice at Rutgers University in New Jersey and an expert on flags of convenience, said students should treat the cruise as a laboratory for the study of globalisation. "They should take every opportunity to talk to ship personnel about their jobs and working conditions. They should inquire about and monitor the procedures of waste disposal and pollution."

Tuition and living costs for the semster-long trip are almost $20,000 (Pounds 11,480). The ship will sail from Athens to Buenos Aires and Montevideo, then on to Perth via Cape Town. The return voyage will take in Singapore, Cochin in southern India, the Suez Canal and Cyprus.

Macquarie's partners are Al Akhawayn, Morocco, Beijing Foreign Studies University, China, Tecnol"gico de Monterrey, Mexico, and the University of Ghana.

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