Reimagining student exchange
Over the past 30 years, UCPH has built a strong tradition of exchanging students with partner universities around the world. In addition to the semester stays, our students have engaged in internships, summer schools and field work abroad. To meet the demands of the future, we need to reimagine the concept of student exchange and add new formats.
There will come a time when our students can travel abroad again as part of their studies. A return to the world of traditional student exchanges that we knew before the pandemic. Stays that foster important intercultural and transversal skills in our students. Yet in the future, student exchange at UCPH will not be limited to physical mobility.
Talks about formalising and scaling up online internationalisation formats had begun before COVID-19 at UCPH, but the crisis has accelerated the need to reimagine student exchange and create new initiatives to meet current challenges and future needs.
Physical student exchanges provide positive gains for many students in their language skills, adaptability, intercultural collaboration, communication and problem-solving skills. These skills continue to be highly relevant, yet in addition, as the demands of a further internationalised and digitalised labour market develop, we see a need for students to gain professional and intercultural digital skills.
To start the development of new online formats, we work closely with our partners in the 4EU+ alliance. The aim is to create online courses, case challenges and other initiatives, but also to provide a common framework for teachers to design the educational experience offered to students, and prepare students for online collaboration and virtual and blended mobility.
It requires much work, new competencies and new ways of thinking international student exchange, but it will give life to ‘a new world’ of opportunities and skills for our students and staff.
Responding to several agendas
In addition to responding to travel restrictions and digital skills advancement, new online student exchange and collaboration formats will also support green, sustainable mobility and inclusion of students who for various reasons cannot go abroad physically. In this way, the new initiatives feed into several important agendas. Digital initiatives will not be the only answer but it will be a part of the response to current agendas of institutions worldwide.
I do not see virtual exchanges as a substitute for physical exchanges, but rather as yet another option that we make available to our students to make sure that they develop competencies that are in tune with labour market demands.
This is a brave new world for us, and as always we hope to use our partnerships to share ideas and experiences so we can create the best opportunities for our students – in the physical as well as the virtual world of internationalisation. If you have questions, ideas or input you would like to share, please feel free to contact us.
By Anne Bruun
The Urban Health Case Challenge
The Urban Health Case Challenge (UHCC) is a new initiative under the 4EU+ University Alliance that also includes NTNU in Norway and Uppsala University in Sweden. Due to travel restrictions and other COVID-19 measures, this year the case challenge will be a blended format. It stretches over five days, and combines local team work and supervision at each university with joint online sessions for all teams including an opening event, lectures on pitch and innovation and a final pitch and feedback session with a jury panel.
International Virtual Exchange Conference
If your institution is developing virtual exchange initiatives or want to look into it, I recommend participating in the International Virtual Exchange Conference (IVEC) 2021.
Anne Bruun is International Director at the University of Copenhagen.