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Aurora universities team up for diversity

The Aurora Network, an international group of nine universities that want to match “academic excellence with societal relevance” has launched a project to make internationalisation more inclusive.

Image: Aurora Network

Diversity has always been high on the Network’s agenda, which was founded in late 2016

The project will see two groups of experts from diversity policy and internationalisation practice come together to work on a toolkit of activities addressing specific obstacles for inclusive internationalisation, including training for academics and administrators in the participating universities.

The toolkit will be also freely available for other universities.

“Six of the nine Aurora universities have teamed up with the central office to…improve the current low chances for students from disadvantaged backgrounds to benefit from an international experience as part of their university education,” Aurora Network coordinator Kees Kouwenaar told The PIE News.

“I would like everyone to [experience international education] because the benefits are quite dramatic”

Participants are the universities of East Anglia, Gothenburg, Duisburg-Essen, Antwerp, Aberdeen and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

The participants will submit a proposal for an Erasmus+ grant from September 2018, but they will carry out the project regardless of available funding.

“[The universities] face different challenges with different kinds of target groups,” explained Kouwenaar.

“But they have teamed up because they can learn from each other and tackle the obstacles to internationalisation for the target students from two ends: the home and the host university for student mobility.”

Diversity has always been high on the Network’s agenda, which was founded in late 2016.

“A lot of students who take advantage of internationalisation opportunities are from a privileged background,” Richard Harvey from the University of East Anglia told The PIE.

“I would like everyone to do it because the benefits are quite dramatic, so we are working on a program now to try and improve that.”

The first activity of the Network was a call for the Aurora Diversity and Equality Award, which was distributed within four months of the group’s creation.

Each member was invited to nominate three projects in diversity and equality which had stood out to be successful. The award was given to an inclusion project for students from a disadvantaged background by the University Duisburg-Essen, but the focus was on highlighting all 18 nominated projects rather than one single winner, Kouwenaar explained.

The call for nomination for the second round of the award will be launched later in spring 2018.

“For the future, we foresee that the call will be opened also to nominations from outside the Aurora membership,” Kouwenaar said.

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