A pending University of Nebraska-Lincoln study abroad trip to Malaysia could strengthen relationships with the country’s universities and expand student perspectives.

UNL’s actuarial science program is awaiting approval for a study abroad trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, according to the program director Sue Vagts. If approved, the three-week trip would begin in May 2020, she said.

John Kalu Osiri, director of the international business program, said the trip would allow students to learn about different insurance issues that aren’t present in the United States, like investment limitations for insurance companies, tuition insurance and gaps in the global market.

“They will be exposed to some international nuances that are not available to them here,” he said. “The institutional differences can bring about new ideas and new products.”

Vagts said the trip would expose students to a culture different from the United States’.

“Malaysia has a very diverse culture,” she said. “Part of it’s going to be a cultural experience to learn about the history and learn about all of those cultures.”

Once in Asia, students could easily visit other areas of Malaysia and nearby countries, Vagts said. The favorable exchange rate in Malaysia also makes the trip relatively affordable, she said.

Vagts said the trip would also expand UNL’s study abroad opportunities to non-European countries.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to get to spend an extended period of time on a continent that many of us will never get to,” she said.

The actuarial science program may open the trip to other majors, but the scope hasn’t been decided, Vagts said.

The longtime partnerships UNL’s actuarial science program has had with universities in Malaysia mean strong connections already exist in the country, Vagts said.

“We have a ton of alums working in Malaysia now,” she said. “So even going to visit … it was really for me like going to a city where I know a bunch of people because I was able to connect with all my alums. It’s almost for me just like going to Omaha.”

With many Malaysian students studying actuarial science at UNL each year, the trip would allow UNL to reciprocate, Osiri said.

“We want to make sure that when our students get there, we put them in touch with students over there so they can actually interact,” he said. “Right now, students are interacting in the U.S., and we want to see what it looks like when they are interacting with students from Malaysia in Malaysia.”

Osiri said the trip would also provide a chance to strengthen the existing partnership.

“We also send a signal to future students that we are engaged,” he said. “So students who are thinking about coming, by virtue of our presence they will say, ‘We will go to Nebraska.’”