Exchange report - incoming students
Home university: Tata Institute of Social Sciences
Study programme: Public Health Sciences (Master's)
Exchange programme: Linnaeus-Palme
Semester: Spring semester 2013/2014
Name: Murugesan Sivasubramanian
Email address:

Arrival and registration

Though, we were provided with a contact person for pick up, for some reasons the concerned person did not turn up at the airport. However due to the instructions given by the International coordinator, we were able to reach the accomodation and the campus. We arrived at the partner university a couple of days before the course started which helped in being familiar to the city, housing, travel and other key logistics. The three day also helped us to settle down and orient ourselves to the city and the student environment in the housing facility. While there was no formal introduction or mentor programme, we were provided by a key contact person by the supervisor who provided us hand on support during our course period. We were provided a half a day orientation programme by the international students coordinator who helped us in navigating our way through the campus, set up the library system for us and oriented us to the courses that we were expected to undertake.  We were also provided with a welcome packet that provided us with set of documents to navigate around the campus and the city as well. 


The exchange visit was supported by Linnaeus-Palme programme.  All the travel related costs was covered through the programme, while the tuition and student union fees were waived off.  To manage the high cost of living, we were provided with a cheap housing option by KI and student travel pass was used for travelling to keep the costs down. During the stay, we were provided with a ICA debit card with our scholarship money loaded that helped us to take care of your daily expenses. However, this card was not very user friendly as we were not able to make online payments, as a result of which we had to pay our rent via Forex banks. Also for every withdrawal we were charged 20kr. It would have been useful if we were provided with the facility of online banking and free withdrawals. 

The accommodation was arranged by KI housing. We were provided with a student living accommodation which was not very far from the school and also had good connectivity services. The housing facilities were good and the cost was reasonable as compared to other living options in the city. Given very few limited housing seats available, the KI international coordinator helped us in securing a hostel accommodation for the period of the course.  We were provided with a confirmed accommodation and a contract along with the rules and regulations was sent to us before our arrival.  Codes were also sent to procure the housing and the internet service at the accommodation. 

Leisure time and social activities

The supervisor at the school organised a day trip with all the PhD and exchange students to provide us an orientation about the city and also and interact with other colleagues.  The gym and recreation activities were provided by at Huddinge campus which was a bit difficult access. The campus provided us the platform to make friendship with Swedish and other nationality students. 


I chose to visit Karolinska Institutet (KI) for the exchange programme as Karolinska has been the pioneer in public health issues. Given my nature of the research study on issues of public health and sexuality, this was a appropriate place for me to visit and strengthen my learning in the field of public health and research methodology.  The course in the public health epidemiology was interesting as they covered a wide range of topics from basic statistics to planning evaluation of the existing health interventions. This course was complement to the programme given by TISS on designing health interventions. Also since my PhD topic is in the field of aging gay men and their health issues, visiting this university also helped me an opportunity to connect with the local gay organisation RFSL, who has been playing a pioneering role in the field of gay men rights in Stockholm, Sweden.  As part of the visit, I was not required to undergo any vaccination or carry medical certificates. 

Courses during the exchange period

2EE011 : Project in Public Health Sciences for exchange students
The project work was doing a literature review for my PhD proposal. The library facilities and access to online journals were helpful in preparing for my literature review work that was incorporated in my PhD proposal. This phase was more self-driven and I was provided the liberty to work at my own pace and design my project work in consultation with the supervisor. I felt that if I was assigned a co-supervisor who had interest in my subject areas, the project work could have been strengthened.
4FH045 : EP-Methods for outcome evaluation of public health intervention
The outcome evaluation course was helpful for me, as I was able to learn more about designing evaluation projects to measure the efficacy, effectiveness and impact of the public health programmes. The examination format included a group work presentation and a written test. The course coordinators for this programme were helpful and provided critical inputs to us at regular intervals. The group assignment was well designed as it ensured equal participation from all the group members. There was enough time to prepare for the presentation and the supervisors were available for clarifications and queries.


This visit has been very useful for me, as I have been able to strengthen my research methodology skills. I was also able to link with the local gay organisation and meet gay men over there and understand their lifestyle, issues and culture.  I have been able to meet gay men who have sought asylum in Sweden which helped me understand the issues faced by gay men in their home countries which have forced them to seek asylum.  Apart from the courses, I also got a chance to meet researchers from different backgrounds at KI working on diverse topics from antibotics resistance to ART adherence using innovative technologies.  In view of my ongoing PhD course, I thought the key things I benefited was by attending various pre-phd registration and PhD defence seminars where I was able to understand the PhD registration process at KI.  It was interesting to see the role of the opponents who played a key role in critiquing the research study and also providing critical inputs to strengthen the study.  As a part of the programme, I was also provided with an opportunity to be an examiner for the Master’s research programme which helped me to understand the examination process of KI and also provide inputs to strengthen her publication work with the thesis.  During my interaction with the gay groups in Stockholm, I also met a representative of the gay section of the ruling political party and was able to connect with a couple of older gay men in Sweden to understand their lifestyles, social networks and their role in the gay activism in the country.  Thus this visit was fruitful and productive for me in terms of theoretical and field based exposure. 

Language and Culture

No, I did not participate in any swedish language course during our exchange visit. 

Studies in general

As part of the programme, I was expected to undertake a Masters course programme.  I felt that the course there is much more in-depth and there is a lot of time for self-learning.  Also, there is a concept of mandatory and non-mandatory classes in KI, which allows the students to choose whether to attend a particular class or not. At TISS, the student is expected to attend atleast 75% of the courses.  In TISS, the students are expected to do their reading outside the class room hours, while in KI, there was separate time allocated for the same. Even for group work assignments, the timings were built in the course work.  In terms of teaching methods and the student-teacher relationship, there were similarities between KI and TISS. At KI, efforts were made by the teacher to reach out the student and ensure that the classroom teachings are being translated to the students, in TISS it if often the student who has to make the efforts to reach out to the students. At TISS, the students are exposed to a lot of courses and are provided with a bird’s eyeview of the different subjects, while at KI an indepth understanding of each of the topics is provided. TISS focuses on the communicable and non- communicable diseases in the course, while public health courses at KI are more inclined towards non-communicable diseases. There is very limited exposure about the diseases from developing and under-developing countries at public health course offered in KI.  The logistic arrangement of the courses is well planned and the reading materials are provided well in advance. The use of Ping-Pong platform for students is very useful and the same could be adapted by TISS to encourage the discussion among the students and with the teachers. This will also help in streamlining of the courses at TISS. Group assignments are very well organised at KI, which ensures that all students in the course are provided with opportunities to demonstrate their skills and learning’s.  The use of mid-term reviews are excellent and provide the students with an opportunity to ensure that their learning’s are in the right direction and the feedback system is excellent with the supervisor individual comments to the students.