Study Abroad and Short Term Mobility within NATY

The aim of this project is to investigate how the New Academic Teaching Year (NATY) may facilitate the development of new mobility opportunities for Undergraduate (UG) students and their Faculty.

The project will investigate the possibilities of broadening types and duration of Study Abroad opportunities, such as one semester within a 3-year degree option. It will also support the design and develop of new faculty lead short-term (ST) opportunities of 1 to 7 weeks, for instance that may fit within NATY’s enrichments week, summer term, or other ‘mobility window’ embedded within Curriculum 2020.


November 2018 – August 2019

What we did

The Study Abroad & Exchanges team have been working collaboratively with departments and staff members across the university to look at how NATY may facilitate expansion of our current student mobility offer. 

Student mobility is core to the education agenda, as an enabler to our students becoming ‘engaged international citizens’. NATY provides new opportunities for Birmingham to internationalise the UG student experience.  The importance of providing an international experience is recognised in the UG mobility proposition 2026 strategy stating that by 2026, all undergraduate students will have the opportunity to have meaningful periods of mobility during their degree. 

NATY presents a significant opportunity to expand our current mobility offering by developing new types of student mobility, such as one semester abroad as part of a 3 year degree and new short-term opportunities.  This will not only provide UoB with a unique mobility proposition where potential applicants may choose from a semester or a year abroad, but our short-term opportunities portfolio also removes barriers attached to the full year mobility, making the programme more accessible and inclusive.

NATY also supports our mobility proposition to be more inclusive: WP students are a significantly under-represented group in mobility activities nationally and this is reflected at UoB. One way of ensuring that WP students are able to benefit from and have access to international opportunities is through funded short-term mobility, which is a more accessible and attractive offering for WP students than traditional year or semester mobility.  Funded short-term mobility overcomes many of the challenges faced by WP students, such as financial barriers, or the capacity to be away from home for too long. Simultaneously the positive experience of a short-term programme still has effect on students’ hard and soft skills such as enhanced confidence or team work skills. Having a positive short-term experience can often lead to students transitioning to a programme with a year or semester abroad upon their return, as we have seen following the recent HK Global Leadership programme.

Our Dubai campus also provides an excellent opportunity to develop innovative short and long-term semester mobility opportunities for our students.  A long-term mobility strategy in relation to Edgbaston-Dubai exchange and Dubai study abroad is under development, and opportunities to develop short-term mobility to Dubai are also being explored and progressed.

What we achieved

For the last two years we have created an innovative short-term programme dedicated to WP students and have provided a transformative experience to 49 A2B students who attended the Common Purpose Global Leadership Programme in Hong-Kong.

The following blog provides details and quotes from students who attended the GLE experience 2019

We have also achieved to carry out an audit of the short-term mobility trips already taking place at the university.

Finally, we have identified departments to join the pilot scheme to offer  semester mobility within a three year degree when NATY is implemented and we have held meetings with key stakeholders to discuss crucial aspects needed to help support this.

What we learnt

We’ve learnt that at least 1200 short term mobility instances happened in 18-19 alone, in additional to traditional long term mobility. This included curriculum-led opportunities such as medical and nursing electives, field trips, research projects and work placements. It also included opportunities outside of the curriculum, such as international internships,  international summer schools and global leadership programmes; and many more international experiences through student societies or volunteering abroad (orchestra, sports clubs etc).

The results of the audit determined that our overall mobility offer is far more diverse and innovative, and our volume of mobility is significantly greater, than our year-long study abroad figures only.

We’ve also learnt how to engage with academics about mobility and what academic colleagues may look for in mobility opportunity, such as links to research intensive teaching, employability and overall student experience at Top 3 reasons to develop additional field trips abroad. This demonstrates how mobility positively addresses student feedback and NSS.

Looking ahead…

We will continue to support the development of semester mobilities, and the creation of new short-term experiences by sharing field trips best practice and impact. We will encourage Academics to liaise with current international partners when developing field to facilitate logistics and enhance impact.  We will work with CN to support innovative treks abroad, and work with Alumni Office to provide sustainable funding for WP mobility.

Further links, resources, and communities of practice


UoB Study Abroad Website:
My Global Story:

Watch Claire Belkadi and Lucy Drummond from the Study Abroad & Exchanges team discuss the project


For more information, contact the projects office on, quoting reference CSLP236.