11/06/2020 Opinion

John Style, Vice-Rector for Internationalization

COVID-19 Special Issue

The area of Internationalization has faced its particular challenges as students on mobility programmes have returned home or decided to remain at their host universities and other institutions.

Since our last newsletter, a lot has changed! Our university life and our way of working has transformed in a way, and at a speed, we could never have imagined. The imposition of the confinement¬ resulting from the COVID pandemic has affected us all deeply, of course.

The area of Internationalization has faced its particular challenges as students on mobility programmes have returned home or decided to remain at their host universities and other institutions. The International Centre has shown tremendous commitment and professionalism in helping our students and staff overcome the difficulties associated with restrictions on foreign travel that have come into force, and other complications arising from COVID, and I’m sure I express the gratitude of the entire URV community in thanking them for all their wonderful efforts.

Of course, every difficulty represents an opportunity to rethink the way one does things, and the university’s transferring so much of its teaching activity on-line has shown us just what can be achieved through the medium of distance learning. In recent months, we have completed a number of Collaborative On-line International Learning (COIL) pilot courses, in different faculties and disciplines. While perhaps a year ago COIL seemed just another modality of teaching, introducing the element of international communication into the classroom by getting groups of students from different countries to work together on projects and exercises, the period of confinement has shown us its real possibilities clearly. COIL has proven itself to be a powerful methodology with the potential for bringing the international experience to all our students, an approach which overcomes mobility restrictions. This makes it particularly meaningful and powerful under the present circumstances in which a return to ‘normality’ still appears some way off. We will shortly be sharing the results of these pilot programmes with the URV community in order to encourage the promotion of COIL, as an excellent, immediate solution to the mobility restrictions we will undoubtedly continue to face in the coming academic year. If you want more information on coil, you can write to: coil@urv.cat

Due to the present uncertainties, it has been difficult to plan for the possible mobility scenarios of the next academic year. There are many universities who are postponing or even cancelling all incoming and outgoing mobility. At the URV we have decided to continue offering this experience to our students as much as possible, hoping that regardless of the restrictions that are and will be in place, they will still get the chance to enjoy a good learning and intercultural experience here at the URV or elsewhere.

All the best.

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