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Inclusive Internationalisation

Aurora Universities share a common commitment to widening access, improving access for those groups of young people who are currently underrepresented in our education programmes, i.c. in internationalisation opportunities. But how these underrepresented groups are defined - and which kinds of young people are underrepresented - varies significantly between various countries and regions in Europe, and thus also between the various members of the Aurora network.

Our point of departure is simple:

  • Students from disadvantaged backgrounds are statistically less likely to go on international student exchange of profit from some other kind of international experience as part of their university studies; they have obstacles that more advantaged students don’t have.
  • There are strong indications that if these students overcome the obstacles and do go aborad, they tend to benefit even more from the international experience in academic as well as personal development
  • There are also indications that for this to happen, more elaborate provisions need to be made for them: before, during or after their international experience.

In the Aurora Inclusive Internationalisation Project, the six participating Aurora universities – supported by the Aurora office – have decided no longer to accept these statistics and to undertake action.

We are now developing a three-year action plan to analyse the problem, identify which gaps in provision of services is needed to help overcome the obstacles, and to add the required additional or improved services – tailored to the needs of the target groups. It will take more than three years for our action plan to reach its full impact, but within the three years, we will produce and test a Toolkit and expect to see the first results in students.

The participating Aurora universities are:
The University of Aberdeen
The University of Antwerp
The university of Duisburg-Essen
The University of East Anglia
The University of Gothenburg
The Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

We are submitting a proposal for an ERASMUS+ subsidy as a Strategic Partnership under Key Action 2 of that programme. If the proposal is accepted, we will be able to implement our action fast, intensively and with opportunities for students from the target groups to help us during an international project workshop. Without Erasmus+ funding, the project will proceed anyhow, but in a more modest fashion.

We aim for our project to be crossing borders in a number of ways:

  • We are bringing together expertise on diversity issues with expertise in internationalisation
  • We will create cross-fertilisation between challenges for different groups of disadvantages (social-economic, personal, cultural)
  • We will make the ‘sending’ and ‘receiving’ universities work hand-in-glove in meeting the challenges and offering the extra services needed to meet them.
  1. Analysing the challenges and the gaps in the required extra services
  2. Developing these extra services, using limited numbers of target group students as resource
  3. Actually offering these extra service to larger groups of target students
  4. Disseminate the Toolkit and its content widely within Aurora and across Europe and beyondThe actual impact in terms of more disadvantaged students benefitting from an international experience, will begin to show at the end of the three-year project but will continue more substantially in the years after.

The project will be led by Helena Gillespie and managed by Kees Kouwenaar

This project is work in progress and this page will be updated as the project advances. If you have any questions feel free to contact Helena or Kees. 

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