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Virtual Exchange

The concept of Virtual Exchange (VE) is an innovative student education programme which is currently being explored at Bath.

What is Virtual Exchange?

Virtual Exchange connects students and academics with their peers across national borders.

Sometimes also called telecollaboration or Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL), Virtual Exchange utilises technology and the internet to connect students and academics with their peers across national borders.

No new technology is required, MS Teams or Zoom is sufficient. Developing a project doesn’t have to mean a dramatic rethink to curriculum – just working collaboratively with academic partners to plan, design and guide students on their virtual team project. Assessment is done by the home university, so it doesn’t require grade conversion from another university system.

Benefits of Virtual Exchange

Participants build:

  • intercultural knowledge
  • virtual teamwork skills
  • systems thinking mindsets
  • digital skills

All of these are key competencies for effective global citizenship and employment.

Virtual Exchange is a way to incorporate an international experience into the learning of all interested students. It also motivates many students to travel – to engage in person with the people, places, challenges, and opportunities they explore with their partners abroad.

Woman working with her laptop

How does it work?

What a Virtual Exchange project looks like in practice and what to take into consideration.

A Virtual Exchange project usually lasts for 6–12 weeks. This allows participants time to build relationships and deliver to the brief – much as in a class-based project.

The Virtual Exchange programme is co-designed and implemented by partnering academics and it is important to consider the following as part of these discussions:

  • Partnerships – who will your students work with?
  • Language – is there a common language between the student groups?
  • Technology – what online tools will they use to collaborate?
  • Tasks – what will the students do together online?
  • Support – how will lecturers help students to reflect and learn from their interactions?
  • Integration/Assessment – how will students receive credit for their work?

How to get involved

If you are a member of staff or international partner interested in getting involved, please get in touch.


We are seeking to develop Virtual Exchange projects across the University, either as co-curricular activities or built into new programmes. Please get in touch if you would like to find out about what’s involved and how you can participate in the initiative.

Several of our existing partners have experience running Virtual Exchange projects and you may wish to discuss with them your ideas for developing a new project. Please contact Tracey Stenson Jukes for more information.

International Partners

If you are interested in developing a VE project with the University of Bath, please contact the International Relations Office by emailing

The Experience

The University’s Foreign Language Centre (FLC) has been running language based Virtual Exchanges since 2020 with partners in China and Jordan among others. Students work together, practising their language skills and exchanging information about their culture and daily life.

In this blog post, Daisy Zhu shares her experience of setting up a VE.

Videos about Virtual Exchanges:

Read more about running Virtual Exchanges.

More about Virtual Exchanges on the Foreign Language Centre pages
Video call