U21 is delighted to announce that we have been shortlisted for the PIEoneer Awards 2021, in the Sustainability International Impact category. This category recognises organisations in the education sector who are proactively making positive changes to continue providing a global outlook to education, whilst minimising the impact on the environment.
Our submission was focused on the development of a suite of sustainably themed, online, global initiatives for U21 students across 18 countries which were, in themselves, sustainably designed and delivered. With all student mobility paused by the pandemic, U21 rose to the challenge of designing a 3-phase set of opportunities that created new virtual pathways. This enabled students to build on international connectivity in a sustainable way.
The new initiatives have resulted in a significant growth of student numbers participating in U21 programmes with accompanying high completion and retention rates. In 2020, the Global Connections, Global Citizenship and RISE projects brought together almost 3,000 students from across the world, to meet each other online; undertake cultural exchange; create their own international networks, and to learn to champion the SDGs. A number of online student-led communities have flourished following these programmes, providing continuing connection and development opportunities for students. A further 3,272 students have already engaged in these projects in 2021.
U21’s 27 international member universities are all dedicated to furthering the SDGs, seen in an ever-increasing emphasis on sustainability within their research, teaching, outreach and in their campus environments. U21 is committed to respect and respond to its members’ sustainability initiatives and to place the SDGs at the heart of U21’s shared programmes and activities.
Network staff indicate that projects are not only meeting universities’ needs for virtual mobility opportunities but that they have significantly improved students’ awareness of being part of an international network.
We look forward to engaging with many more students during the next phase of these programmes.