Virtual Internationalization in higher education. A conceptual model and the pandemic disruption to internationalization in Germany

Dr. Elisa Bruhn

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented disruption of international education and of higher education institutions’ international operations in general. Due to the massive constraints which the pandemic imposed on physical travel and on on-site delivery of higher education worldwide, the virtual transnational provision of education, online conferences, and virtual exchange moved from a niche to the internationalization mainstream.

Yet, the digital transformation started impacting the internationalization of higher education – abroad and at home – prior to the COVID-19 crisis, and global pandemics are not the only rationale for HEIs to employ virtual measures in international contexts. 

Elisa Bruhn-Zass proposes a model of Virtual Internationalization that systematizes the variety of ways in which the virtual and the international may intersect in higher education. In her talk, she presents the conceptual model, contextualizes it with measures taken by HEIs in Germany during the COVID-19 pandemic, and discusses the relevance of virtual forms of internationalization post-pandemic.

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