Collaborative online international learning (COIL) as a timely equity-sensitive strategy of higher education internationalisation@home in post-pandemic times: a case study from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa.
Declining budgets, human capital, and international student enrolment is one dimension of the post-pandemic terrain in higher education. The second dimension is the resounding success of agile leadership, emergency online learning and collaborative online international learning initiatives and the impact of throughput rates. This process of reimagining higher education extends to an increase in access to collaborative opportunities in research and staff and students exchanges between strategic foci such as North- South collaborations.
In the end of 2018, the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT)’s collaborative international online learning (COIL) facility was opened on one of the university’s six campuses (District Six- Cape Town city centre). It must be pointed out that COIL goes well beyond infrastructure in as much as it actually creates a new mind-set of expanded and solutions-oriented learning. Accordingly, it prepares students for collaborative and project-based learning with an interdisciplinary focus, which goes along with the 4IR, in order to deal with and act in an increasingly complex and globalised environment. To sum up, the CPUT COIL project is an excellent example of an activity within “internationalisation@home”, which becomes ever more important in 2021 where the pandemic continues to impact higher education institutions worldwide. Faculty member Jon Rubin, who developed the concept, characterises it as “a way to connect the students in your classroom to the world.” In brief, it provides for ‘virtual mobility’ experiences that are incorporated into the formal curriculum. By means of engaging staff and students in “broadening their worldview and perceptions” while bringing together expertise and experience from the different partners in Europe and South Africa, the initiative contributes to advance internationalisation in higher education. After the current process of institutional roll-out across the faculties and units, the initiative will be upscaled to other institutions in the region and prospectively beyond (see transferability section below).