The COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned in Promoting Student Internationalisation
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The COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned in Promoting Student Internationalisation

Authors: David Cobham


In higher education, a great degree of importance is placed on the internationalisation of the student experience. This is seen as a valuable contributor to elements such as building confidence, broadening knowledge, creating networks, and connections and enhancing employability for current students who will become the next generation of managers in technology and business. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all areas of people’s lives. The limitations of travel coupled with the fears and concerns generated by the health risks have dramatically reduced the opportunity for students to engage with this agenda. Institutions of higher education have been required to rethink fundamental aspects of their business model from recruitment and enrolment, through learning approaches, assessment methods and the pathway to employment. This paper presents a case study which focuses on student mobility and how the physical experience of being in another country either to study, to work, to volunteer or to gain cultural and social enhancement has of necessity been replaced by alternative approaches. It considers trans-national education as an alternative to physical study overseas, virtual mobility and internships as an alternative to international work experience and adopting collaborative on-line projects as an alternative to in-person encounters. The paper concludes that although these elements have been adopted to address the current situation, the lessons learnt and the feedback gained suggests that they have contributed successfully in new and sometimes unexpected ways, and that they will persist beyond the present to become part of the "new normal" for the future. That being the case, senior leaders of institutions of higher education will be required to revisit their international plans and to rewrite their international strategies to take account of and build upon these changes.

Keywords: Trans-national education, internationalisation, higher education management, virtual mobility.

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