MicroCPD: Great new travel opportunities for your students via NATY

Claire Belkadi and Lucy Drummond from the Study Abroad & Exchanges team discuss working with departments and staff across the university to see how NATY may facilitate expansion of our current student mobility offer.

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 our students to internationalise their 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.

Through our project we have identified departments that will be piloting this scheme when NATY is implemented and we have held meetings with key stakeholders to discuss crucial aspects needed to help support this.

An audit undertaken as part of our EEF project has determined that in 18-19, over 1,200 short-term mobility opportunities were undertaken by our students, in addition to students undertaking a traditional year abroad placement.  This included curriculum-led opportunities such as medical and nursing electives, field trips, research projects and work placements (+800).  It also included opportunities outside of the curriculum: for instance 69 students participated in international internships organised through the careers service; 74 students participated in international summer school programmes; and many more students gained an international experience through their involvement in 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.

The study abroad team is therefore working collaboratively with Colleges and through the NATY committees to support the development of pilot semester abroad programmes for 20-21 and also to identify opportunities for short-term mobility with partner institutions that could be developed during the enrichment week in January or summer term.

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.

If you have any questions or comments about mobility within NATY, please do not hesitate to contact Claire Belkadi, Head of Study Abroad or email c.belkadi@bham.ac.uk.