‘Virtual Internationalisation’ and the Undergraduate Curriculum in UK and Overseas Universities


  • Bridget M. Middlemas University of Roehampton, London
  • Joanna G. Peat University of Roehampton, London




virtual internationalisation, internationalisation at home, mobility, programme design, ICOMs


The challenge of offering an international university experience is proving to be an expensive and time-consuming business for many institutions of higher education, with less than 1% of students participating in a semester or year abroad. Some students are simply unable to commit to travelling abroad for reasons such as inadequate finance, family commitments or health/disability issues. The adoption of practices such as ‘internationalisation at home’ or ‘virtual internationalisation’ can therefore offer institutions a viable alternative to expensive and lengthy overseas visits. Roehampton’s Promoting Internationalisation through Cultural and Structural Adaptations (PICASA) project is currently investigating these alternative ways of working.

Our research indicates that there are some effective alternative ways of ensuring that a university is able to work collaboratively with international partners, in order to offer all its students the possibility of an international experience at the home institution. Through the setting up of Web 2.0 based virtual, co-run and co-validated modules on traditional taught programmes, students can gain an excellent understanding of their discipline from an international perspective. Such modules can be run with students studying in a range of related or unrelated subject areas, and students will gain an awareness of the challenges of learning and working internationally. For the staff involved, the modules offer an opportunity to work with international academic and research colleagues, which gives them an enhanced and up to date understanding of disciplinary developments in other countries.

The ‘virtual internationalisation’ model will be explored with a selection of recent case studies from UK and European universities who co-validate modules with universities in other countries. Implications for joint planning, quality assurance and institutional learningteaching policies will be reviewed. Case studies from the PICASA Project are due to be published in December 2016.

Author Biographies

Bridget M. Middlemas, University of Roehampton, London

Bridget Middlemas is a senior lecturer in learning and teaching in higher education at the University of Roehampton, London. She is based in the University’s Learning and Teaching Office, and runs a range of staff development programmes for staff at Roehampton as well as for Roehampton’s collaborative partners in the UK, Europe and India. Bridget is the lead academic for the EU funded PICASA Project, which will be completed in December 2016. The PICASA Project website can be seen at: http://www.roehampton.ac.uk/Services/Learning-and-Teaching/Research/PICASA/

Joanna G. Peat, University of Roehampton, London

Jo Peat is a senior lecturer in learning and teaching in higher education at the University of Roehampton, London. She is based in the University’s Learning and Teaching Office, and runs a range of staff development programmes for staff at Roehampton as well as for Roehampton’s collaborative partners in the UK, Europe and India.


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