On Thursday 3 December, 30 representatives from 19 universities, across the U21 Network came together for a virtual Global Mobility Group meeting. This year all universities in the U21 network have had to rapidly pivot and innovate to continue to offer global opportunities to their students and staff. Participants shared how they have risen to this challenge and supported each other this year to continue to connect with students, staff and partners in the mobility sphere.
Following the success U21 Symposium “Motivating Online Student Engagement in and out of the Classroom”, mobility colleagues shared the programs and initiatives they have piloted this year and their reflections on a year of internationalisation online. The hour-long session featured observations from the U21 Secretariat on the recent Global Citizenship and Global Connections programs which jointly engaged 3000 students across the network, as well as innovations by U21 members aimed at engaging students and partners.
Representatives from the University of Edinburgh, The University of Amsterdam and UCD, shared the next steps for the student facing NICE programme, that takes a blended and self-reflective approach to virtual exchange. All U21 colleagues are invited to learn more about the NICE programme at the launch of the virtual handbook in January 2021.
However, it is not just maintaining strong connections with students that has required creative thinking this year. In the year that U21 launched its Mental Health declaration many interesting discussions were had about how to support staff’s mental health and wellbeing during a very challenging year professionally and personally for many. Despite the challenges of 2020 it is clear colleagues across the U21 network have used all their creativity to continue to work together , wonderfully demonstrated by the University of Birmingham who shared the success of their first ever virtual partner visit day. As we head in to 2021 we look forward to seeing the continued innovation and resilience of our network colleagues to adapt to a changed landscape for international higher education.
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