From now on, Wageningen students can earn credits by following online courses that are taught abroad. Together with Delft University of Technology, Leiden University and six institutes abroad, the university has made exchange easier.
Delft University of Technology has offered massive open online courses (MOOCs) for years and started a pilot (link in Dutch) last year in collaboration with six other universities. Thanks to this initiative, their students could do ‘virtual exchanges’ and earn credits at all seven institutes. Before the programme, online courses could be followed, but one still had make a flight to take the exam.
The pilot was successful, and now the universities in Wageningen and Leiden are joining the programme, as was recently decided in Canada. According to Anka Mulder, Vice-President for Education & Operations at Delft University of Technology, the universities know each other well and trust that the courses are all of high quality and level. Starting from January 2018, students will have the possibility to follow an online course of their own university or one of the partner universities. This will dramatically increase the number of optional courses.
Beside the three Dutch universities, the institutes that joined the programme are Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, the American Rice University and three Australian universities: the National University and the universities of Queensland and Adelaide.
As students will no longer have to spend thousands of euros on flights and accommodation in a far-away country, the online lectures will drastically lower the threshold of exchanges, claim the universities. The students who cannot participate in a classic exchange due to time or financial constraints will now have the opportunity to study abroad after all. ‘If you really wanted to follow a lecture by a specific professor abroad, you needed to move to another country for three or six months. This has changed: now, all you need to do is turn on your laptop’, says WUR spokesperson Simon Vink.
The exams do not have a futuristic solution yet: students still must take the exams in a hall at their university, under supervision of an invigilator. The lecturer at the institute where the students follow the course assesses the exam and sends the grade to the students’ university.