Stimulating virtual international collaboration in education, ‘the Dutch way’

Since last year, the Dutch Ministry of Science, Culture and Education is offering subsidy for Dutch higher education institutions to develop innovative virtual projects that foster collaboration amongst Dutch and international students.

The subsidy granted to institutions is intended as a contribution to freeing up the necessary hours for a lecturer and/or educationalist to design or revise and implement a virtual collaborative project. Any institution that has been granted this specific subsidy is also offered a range of activities to build capacity for designing effective and successful virtual projects; from facilitated intervision meetings, to various training courses, online information sessions, an in-person conference, an online helpdesk and a community platform. 

To be honest, we’re not only sharing this information here to show our enthusiasm for such an initiative – as it strengthens the mainstreaming of quality virtual intercultural collaboration and learning in higher education sector. But we can also announce that the Sharing Perspectives Foundation has joined forces with experts from CINOP, University of Groningen, University of Applied Sciences Utrecht and UNICollaboration as the implementing consortium of this pioneering initiative from the Dutch ministry!

Since the conception of this programme, we’ve been dedicating quite some time towards initiating activities, developing the VIS website, building relationships within the consortium and implementing the first rounds of training for educators. Our involvement in this programme is already proving to be a great learning experience on the current needs and challenges of educators and other HEI professionals in developing and facilitating international oriented virtual learning experiences. Working closely with VIS practitioners in our virtual trainings and following our quality assurance methods has already led to great improvements of our training materials and instructional approach.

So even if the activities under this support programme are only offered strictly to Higher Educational Institutions in the Netherlands, we certainly take everything we learn from this initiative on board to refine our methods in our other projects. Whether that is in our consulting activities, Virtual Exchange programme development for third parties, training organizations in virtual teaching or collaboration, or how to support partner organizations in our flagship VE programme. 

And off course, we hope to activate all higher education professionals in the Netherlands to learn more  and apply for the specific subsidy, to make this government funded programme a successful example for other countries to follow.

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