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Virtual International Collaboration

Date:07 July 2022
Sustainable Development Goals
Sustainable Development Goals

In September 2022, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science will open the third round of applications for Virtual International Collaboration (VIS) projects.

In VIS projects students from two or more educational institutions in different countries work together online on tasks which are incorporated in the academic programmes of each of the institutions.

More information on this form of learning, for which UG is using the term Online International Exchange (OIE), can be found through the links below. 

Here are some reasons why you may want to start a VIS project:

  • Mobility is not for everyone. Spending an extended period of time abroad holds unique potential for personal development and acquiring specific competences such as intercultural skills and language proficiency. Even though student exchange programmes, especially Erasmus+, have been tremendously successful, it is important to remember that student mobility today is available only to a minority of students (less than 20% in Europe). Virtual International Collaboration projects can complement physical exchange programmes so that more students can be offered international and intercultural learning opportunities. Research has shown that well-designed and properly supported VIS projects may have similar transformative impact on student learning. 
  • More diverse and equitable experiences. Although access to the Internet obviously remains an issue for some groups, bringing students together in online collaborations is a way to reach out to groups from more varied backgrounds and communities, including learners who would not otherwise have access to learning with students from our university. This is for instance an objective in the recent call for Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange projects, which is targeting cooperation with learners from the Western Balkans, Eastern Neighbourhood, Southern Neighbourhood, Russia and Sub-Saharan Africa. If you are interested in collaborating with these or other areas in the world to bring greater diversity to your students’ learning experiences, proposing a VIS project with a colleague from one of these regions may be a good way to get started.  
  • Interdisciplinarity. Interdisciplinary collaboration is essential for tackling the complex problems which today’s world is facing. This requires working in global teams, with expertise deriving from different disciplines, intercultural and geographical backgrounds, to deal with these problems effectively and think of solutions creatively. Situated in the context of two or more connected courses from different universities and diverse specialisations, VIS projects offer a viable option for bringing in student perspectives from different disciplines. 
  • Sustainability. Sustainability plays a role in VIS projects in more than one sense. On the one hand it may be the topic of the projects conducted by the interdisciplinary transnational teams described above. They may be addressing issues related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which universities worldwide are now beginning to embrace. On the other hand, as universities are considering their ecological footprints more critically, VIS projects may be used to limit physical mobility, while still allowing students meaningful international experiences. During the current Covid-19 crisis where physical travel has become severely restricted, VIS projects have not only proved useful as a lifeline for international collaboration but they have also presented themselves as an opportunity for reducing our ecological footprint. 

Information on the VIS initiative can be found on the webpage by the ministry. 

In the University of Groningen VIS-applications are coordinated by the Teaching Academy Groningen. Your faculty funding officer can help you prepare your application. 

If you are interested in learning more about Virtual International Collaboration, please contact us at envoie

The ENVOIE project team