The UGPN Collaborative Online International Learning project


The Universidade de Sao Paulo, North Carolina State University, the University of Wollongong and the University of Surrey are the four members of the University Global Partnership Network (UGPN). The mission of the UGPN is to develop sustainable world-class research, education and knowledge transfer through an active international network collaborating in research, learning and teaching to benefit our global society. 

To further progress this mission, our education project aimed to: 

  • Support students in developing a variety of transferable skills/ knowledge/ attributes such as resourcefulness and resilience, cultural and global awareness, teamwork and digital capabilities. 
  • Contribute to a learning community that is dedicated to the discovery and enrichment of the humanities and social sciences. 
  • Encourage networking and increase in student/ staff mobility and/ or joint research between the partners.  

Students worked asynchronously with international peers to create a poster presentation titled: Covid-19 & Worldwide Responses. They had the option of various themes such as: mental and physical health, finance, or media and communications. Each group had 1-2 students from each partner university and participants were expected to contribute to the poster, over the course of three months, in numerous ways e.g. research, design and fact-checking.  

The project concluded with a poster conference, where each group presented to a panel (consisting of UGPN staff representatives) and 1st, 2nd, 3rd prizes were awarded.  

We also ran two online events with guest speakers, Q&A and opportunities to network. Digital platforms (Zoom, Google Drive and Slack) were used to host the projects, live events and build a shared team spirit! 

We are currently analysing pre and post-participation survey results and will be discussing these in our case study submission to the Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice (JUTLP). Some headline findings show: 

  • 78% of participants strongly agreed that connecting with students in different countries helped them view the world differently.  
  • 70% of students (from 56%) said they are now considering a career that would allow them to travel internationally.  

In terms of some of the most valuable aspects of participating in the project: 

  • 70% said that developing their global and cultural awareness was one of the most valuable aspects of participating. Connected to this, 96% said learning about the experiences of students in other countries was most appreciated.  
  • 60% said forming a new online virtual community was helpful and 78% said networking with students and faculty members from other educational institutions was appreciated.  

Post-participation, they also felt more: 

  • Comfortable talking about and discussing ideas online with peers 
  • Confident socialising with people from other cultures 
  • Assured in their ability to adjust to new people, places, and situations. 

As a result of our work, we were delighted to be awarded second place under the category ‘most innovative approach to widening participation in the curriculum’ at this year’s Pearson HE Innovate Awards.  

If you have any questions about the project, feel free to contact Nayiri on