I've started a PhD recently and seen a few students from other universities visit our lab for a few days or maybe few weeks. The other university pays all expenses which many times amount to thousands of dollars. Most of the time, the visiting student gets a place, brings her/his own laptop and does research the way he does it at his university.
What's the point of this? Couldn't the visiting student just stay at his university and discuss his research with our lab on Skype?
One explanation I thought of is face to face networking but the cost seems to high for that. Or it may be an excuse to travel and see the world, but that's quite ridiculous. I also asked the visiting students, but they told me they didn't know.