ACU launches Commonwealth Virtual Exchange

Published 03/10/2022

The Association of Commonwealth Universities has revealed 50 students from 10 member institutions will take part in its inaugural Commonwealth Virtual Exchange program.

The eight-week virtual exchange program is designed to help students that have not previously studied abroad build skills required to “become tomorrow’s changemakers”.

“The ACU has a strong track record of delivering impactful and transformative international opportunities for students across the Commonwealth,” Joanna Newman, chief executive and secretary general of the ACU, said.

“Whether students go on to become social entrepreneurs, or build their careers within established organisations, they will be able to draw upon the flexible, dynamic mindset they develop during the program.”

ACU institutions taking part in the pilot include members in Australia, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia and the UK.

ACU acknowledged that outward mobility is “still limited for many”, and by delivering the program online, students under-represented in international mobility will be able to join alongside their university studies.

While the program is free to attend, the 50 participants will be chosen as part of a competitive selection process. Participants without access to wi-fi will be able to apply for a grant to fund their data costs.

“Universities have a responsibility to prepare their graduates to live and work in a global society,” Raghu Radhakrishnan, former director of International Collaborations at Manipal Academy of Higher Education in India, said.

“The ACU’s commitment to internationalisation is reflected in its efforts to create opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds and nationalities to partake in innovative collaborative endeavours.”

“Universities have a responsibility to prepare their graduates to live and work in a global society”

Radhakrishnan has helped to design the program, which is linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Participants will create new business ideas to address one of the global challenges, while also building intercultural awareness and developing an entrepreneurial mindset, ACU added.

“A well-designed virtual exchange program may be just what the globalised world needs to create truly equitable education across all boundaries,” Radhakrishnan added.

“‘The processes of critical thinking, creative thinking, and problem solving are part of our university’s core educational values and these align well with the virtual student exchange program,” associate vice-chancellor Global Engagement at Universiti Malaya, Yong Zulina Zubairi, said.

“At UM we strive to provide equal access to opportunities, and a program such as the Commonwealth Virtual Exchange, which is delivered online, helps to support this aim.”

Other institutions taking part in the program include the University of East London, The University of Edinburgh, and The University of Western Australia, alongside the support from five other ACU member universities: SVKM’s NMIMS, National Law University Delhi, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sheffield Hallam University, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

“We hope that these future changemakers will also be able to build the cultural understanding and connections which are essential to international collaboration in order to make progress towards the UN SDGs,” Newman added.

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