Covid-19 “proof” Internationalization at home

International mobility experiences are a crucial means for students to develop highly valuable 21st century skills. In light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and limited physical mobility opportunities, internationalization at home has a stronger role than ever to play in helping students nurture their interpersonal and intercultural competencies.

  • 18/11/2020

Despite the current health situation, the University of Bordeaux remains strongly committed to delivering high quality education and promoting international opportunities. Here are some of the ways in which we are fostering proactive Internationalization at Home.  

Internationalization at home - inclusive undergraduate curricula

The NewDEAL project, selected within the framework of the “New University Curricula” (NCU - Nouveaux Cursus à l'Université) call for proposals, is supporting a university-wide student-centered curriculum reform at the University of Bordeaux. An important strand of NewDEAL is to explore new ways of embedding international and intercultural skills widely across undergraduate programs. This includes various internationalization at home initiatives that focus on integrating international learning outcomes into disciplinary learning as well as activities for acquiring the transversal skills we associate with international experience – autonomy, critical thinking, intercultural skills, etc.

In a first pilot, a small team of lecturers in mathematics and chemistry have integrated international characteristics to both course content and format. For example, students in mathematics work towards the linearization of the Covid-19 prediction model and reflect on the impact of such models on decision-making.

In parallel, activities for acquiring transversal skills are led by the department of Language, Literature and Communications, and include I@H (Internationalization at Home) virtual exchange projects with the universities of Stanford (USA) and Hull (England), a speaker’s club in English, intercultural projects, workshops by native speakers on the questions of international experiences at home, and more.

Thanks to NewDEAL, these initiatives are contributing to the development of inclusive opportunities for international education at the University of Bordeaux.

Erasmus + Virtual Exchange

Since 2018, the Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange (E+VE) program has allowed young people aged between 18 and 30 from all over Europe and the South Mediterranean region to engage in online intercultural experiences. The University of Bordeaux has been a key partner in this initiative, with students from the Colleges of Human sciences and Science and technology following the flagship Cultural Encounters program.

In collaboration with youth organizations and universities, E+VE proposes a range of activities involving technology-enabled discussions on the current challenges of a global and multicultural society, such as the fight against hate speech, sustainable food systems or peace and the role of youth in the resolution of conflicts. The program helps students develop their intercultural awareness and enhances their employability and language skills.

Over 200 students from across the disciplines have participated in E+VE. The experience has not only benefitted students but helped to seed our own in-house virtual exchange initiatives with interesting interdisciplinary projects between Bordeaux technology and Dallas students and also Bordeaux human sciences students and Dallas and New York psychology and sociology students. 

Virtual exchange stretches the scope of international exchange. By working together, towards common goals, students forge real and meaningful connections with peers across the globe and develop a wide set of transversal skills.

Laüra Hoskins — Associate professor of English, Manager of the Language center

“Science without borders”

The objective of this initiative is to strengthen international collaboration between the University of Bordeaux and the University of Cincinnati (USA), by providing blended mobility opportunities built around project-based learning to third year Bachelor students.

From each university, a group of ten to twenty science and technology students work online in mixed groups on a given theme (e.g. water resource sustainability, carbon nanotubes, virtual reality, etc.). Following virtual exchanges, participants take turns visiting the partner university to present the results of their joint efforts during a one-day seminar organized by the local students. During these visits, in addition to the feedback seminar, students partake in lectures, practical work, company visits and informal activities, and have the opportunity to interact with other students on the campus. The project thus radiates beyond the student cohort directly involved in the program and allows a large number of students to interact and share their knowledge.

Due to the ongoing Covid pandemic, the two short-term mobility periods scheduled within this program have been suspended in favor of remote restitution, allowing students to still benefit from an international experience while remaining on campus.

Such initiatives - blended mobility, virtual exchanges, etc. are excellent opportunities to consolidate our international partnerships and play an important part in engaging the community widely in ENLIGHT, our European university.

Joanne Pagèze — Vice-President for Internationalization

International Week

These initiatives were presented during the University of Bordeaux’s International Week. From the 14th until the 16th of October, the university celebrated its sixth annual edition, organized in a new hybrid format within the framework of the 2020 Erasmus Days. Under the banner of “Time to engage globally”, information sessions were held remotely while the language centers welcomed participants for face-to-face activities.


Lola Coly Layani
Project manager for internationalization


Consult the dedicated website for more information about our European University, ENLIGHT