The chief executive of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities, which comprises 61 universities across 19 territories, spoke of the importance of internationalising online learning at the IFE Conference, held at the Tec de Monterrey Campus in Mexico in late January.
While joint degrees and partnerships are core to furthering international education, Thomas Schneider indicated the organisation’s aim was to work together internationally on a more granular level.
“One of our cornerstones is the design of online programs in collaboration with multiple universities, but we also deliver them collaboratively.
“We’re able to the connector of both faculty and students around specific topics,” Schneider noted.
In 2022/23, APRU’s universities offered more than 300 collaborative courses across a range of different academic disciplines.
The organisation also runs cross-institution competitions to bolster student collaboration on subjects like climate change and sustainability; one of its multiple tools to maximise its use of online education globally, Schneider added.
Diego Quiroga Ferri, rector of the Universidad De San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador, said that from the Latin American perspective, professors should be placed at the heart of the conversation about online global collaboration.
Being in a global university alliance, Ferri noted, professors will be front and centre – and so they need to be trained on how to maximise the use of those alliances.
“Alliances matter not only at the level of teaching but at the level of research. It’s important to remember that a lot of the research going on – for example, between an institution in the US and USFQ – is actually happening online.
“We need to give training to the professors conducting that research, not just to get them to participate in alliances like this, but also to help them in internationalising their overall experience,” said Ferri.
“We need to give [internationalisation] training to the professors conducting that research”
He also said that in Latin America, there is a sore need for more programs in English.
“[Here], they don’t emphasise English enough – it’s very difficult to do online experiences at an international level when you don’t have students that can participate because they are not fluent in English,” he noted.
Quito tries to make sure that by the second year, students are fluent in English so they are able to participate in more online international programs.