Undergraduate student mobility: are virtual experiences a realistic substitute?

03 August 2020 | Video editing X CON Films.


The number of undergraduate students travelling for part or all of their degrees has increased dramatically in the last few years. These international experiences can be rich, even life-changing: both the exposure to new ways of thinking, but also to new ways of living. But they come at a cost – both to the environment, and often to the student, meaning only the well-off can afford them. Using what we are learning from the global shift to emergency online teaching and learning, can we envisage a more sustainable, equitable model? What are the most valuable aspects of the international experience for students, and for which of those can we find creative virtual alternatives?


  • Mamokgethi Phakeng, vice-chancellor, UCT


  • Sue Harrison, professor and deputy vice-chancellor for research and internationalisation, University of Cape Town, South Africa


  • Ben Nelson, founder and CEO, Minerva Project
  • Andrew Gordon, founder and CEO, Diversity Abroad
  • Athenkosi Nzala, master’s student in online education, University of Cape Town, South Africa
  • Mokgadi Marishane, master’s student in psychology, University of Cape Town, South Africa
  • Vinicius Camilo, student in business-oriented computing, Technology College (FATEC), São Paulo, Brazil


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