GlobaLinks Dec 2021

APRU Virtual Student Exchange programme highly commended at THE Awards Asia

The Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Virtual Student Exchange (VSE) programme, conceptualised and managed by CUHK, has been ‘Highly Commended’ for International Strategy of the Year at the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards Asia 2021. The awarded entries of the Award’s ten categories were announced at a ceremony on 14 December.

The VSE was launched in August 2020 under the auspices of APRU, a network of more than 60 leading universities across the Pacific Rim, under the management of CUHK. The programme was developed in response to the disruptions to global travel under the COVID-19 pandemic. CUHK conceptualised the VSE to be a holistic virtual student exchange experience that offers online courses in a wide variety of academic disciplines complemented by co-curricular programmes on cultural, social, leadership and career topics.

In just over a year since its launch, the VSE has offered more than 550 online academic courses and 75 co-curricular programmes to students of the APRU network. Thirty-seven APRU member universities in 16 countries/regions have participated in the VSE by contributing and offering online programmes to their students. As of December, there have been more than 1,200 individual enrolments in VSE academic courses and over 1,500 individual participations in co-curricular programmes.

In addition to being an alternative to physical student exchange during the pandemic, the ease of access to the VSE also allows students to preview future physical student exchange, and experience international education without the financial burden of traveling and living abroad. The VSE will continue to adapt and evolve with the ever-changing landscape of international education.

Prof. Rocky S. Tuan, Vice-Chancellor of CUHK expressed, ‘Global engagement has always been a top priority of CUHK. With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting student exchange in an unprecedented scale, there was urgency in finding ways to sustain international education under the constraints. Thanks to the support of APRU and its members, CUHK is able to leverage the Association’s extensive network, and is privileged to lead the APRU VSE programme to offer an encompassing and stimulating virtual exchange experience for our network students. The VSE opened a new door for CUHK and APRU’s 61 members across the Pacific Rim and inspired universities to reimagine how international education could be implemented. We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to THE for recognising our efforts with their high commendation of the VSE. This recognition will encourage CUHK and the partners of the VSE programme to continue its global learning endeavours.’

The THE Awards Asia is the Asian edition of THE’s UK-focused Awards, known as the ‘Oscars of higher education’. The 2021 Awards Asia is in its third edition and celebrates the region’s top performers in eight categories: Excellence and Innovation in the Arts, International Strategy of the Year, Student Recruitment Campaign of the Year, Teaching and Learning Strategy of the Year, Technological or Digital Innovation of the Year, Workplace of the Year, Outstanding Support for Students, and Leadership and Management Team of the Year. There are also two categories based on THE DataPoints data: the Improved Performance Award and the Social Impact Award. Nearly 500 entries were submitted for the 2021 Awards, and 66 institutions from 22 countries/regions were shortlisted.