Partnerships in the pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on internationalisation activities across the Higher Education Sector. In the past year and a half we have seen international student and staff mobility programmes grounded, international research activities paused and many other in-person activities suspended. The pandemic has substantially altered the context for cross-border collaboration with our partners, and we have had to find new ways to engage that are both meaningful and effective.

The University of Kent launched its ‘Catch up with Kent’ series back in June 2020. The aim of the series was to keep in touch with our international partner institutions around the world during the Covid-19 pandemic, with regular video conferences taking place throughout the year.

Over a year on, this innovative series has proven highly successful, keeping us connected with our partners. Each session has explored in-depth topics, allowing the opportunity for partners to collaborate effectively, sharing experiences and informing practices as we navigate our way through the pandemic together. We have shared our different experiences and approaches to HE administration, crisis management, academic planning, green mobility, digital learning, virtual mobility opportunities and other ways to build collaboration despite the challenges we have faced and continue to face. As we have moved through the pandemic, we have had the opportunity to reflect on the series and on our varying responses to Covid-19. We have looked at how our relationships have evolved in this new digital space, and how they will continue to do so in order to meet the challenges of a post-Covid landscape.

Across the series, partners from Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe and North and South America have taken part.

We will continue to run the programme digitally throughout the next academic year. The accessibility of the series has allowed us to connect more regularly to a greater number of partners, and inspired a range of collaborative activity. We look forward to seeing what the next year will bring.