Innovation Fund

Program Innovation Fund.

Due to COVID-19, the first phase of the Global Skills Opportunity program focused on innovation to help institutions test new tools and approaches, adapt mobility programming to COVID-19, and build the foundation for the launch of the full program.

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Favoriser la mobilité étudiante vers l’étranger grâce à une meilleure compréhension des obstacles et à la mise en place de projets innovants

Université du Québec en Abitibi-Temiscamingue

La mobilité vers l’étranger existe à l’UQAT, mais elle est peu connue de la population étudiante et manque de structure. Ce projet permettra de faire un état de situation globale pour connaître l’offre existante, l’état de la mobilité sortante, mais aussi de donner des pistes pour le développement, en permettant de mieux comprendre, organiser et développer l’offre de mobilité vers l’étranger tout en tenant compte des principes d’équité, de diversité et d’inclusion.

Le projet se décline en différentes étapes afin de mieux comprendre la mobilité vers l’étranger, de surmonter les obstacles liés aux études à l’extérieur des frontières du Canada et de développer des offres qui répondent aux attentes et aux besoins des étudiantes et des étudiants. Pour l’ensemble de ces activités, l’embauche d’une ressource professionnelle à temps complet pour une période d’un an est prévue. Les mandats de cette ressource seront de réaliser une veille informationnelle quant aux bonnes pratiques et aux tendances actuelles en matière de mobilité vers l’étranger dans le domaine de l’enseignement supérieur et de consulter les professeures et les professeurs des différents départements sur leurs expériences et l’offre existante. Cela nous permettra d’abord de prendre le pouls de ce qui se fait ailleurs, mais aussi chez nous, de connaître les différents contextes, en plus de définir les différents types de mobilité.

L’UQAT profitera de cette occasion pour répertorier l’ensemble des offres de mobilité vers l’étranger de son institution afin de sonder ensuite la population étudiante sur cette offre, sur leurs expériences à l’étranger qu’elle soit ou non dans le cadre de leur formation à l’UQAT, sur leurs besoins et leurs attentes afin de recueillir un certain nombre de données. Des groupes de discussion seront aussi coordonnés afin d’approfondir certains aspects. Une attention particulière sera portée sur les réalités vécues par les étudiantes et les étudiants à faibles revenus, handicapés et autochtones. Les questions sociodémographiques et l’analyse des données désagrégées permettront, notamment, de voir les variations dans les réponses selon le groupe d’appartenance et de dégager un portrait des obstacles à la mobilité vers l’étranger, mais aussi, des attentes et des besoins de nos étudiantes et de nos étudiants. L’UQAT pourra ensuite ajuster son offre, développer des projets de mobilité adaptés qui auront pour objectif d’augmenter l’accès ainsi que l’équité sur le plan de la participation des groupes ciblés en tenant compte des principes EDI et cette offre sera disponible pour toutes les personnes étudiantes.

Build it and More Will Come: Outbound Mobility Development Program for Faculty and Instructors

University of Saskatchewan

This Outbound Mobility Development Program for Faculty and Instructors project will be part of the current study abroad programming for our faculty. This project will assist faculty members in creating, facilitating, managing, and assessing taught abroad programs.

Faculty members are our students first point of contact in many cases and truly guide and assist students in making these decisions to go abroad. This program will be available to support faculty and provide training on course creation, risk management, student well-being, ethical engagements and logistics. These tools will help faculty develop and build on their ideas to create programs to give students an intercultural and global perspective that will enhance not only their student experience but their future career goals.

The more faculty-led programs the college has to offer, the more options there will be for students to go abroad. The majority of our students select taught abroad programs when participating in an international opportunity. On average 12-15 students (sometimes up to 25) will participate in a single program and if we offer 15 per year that could equate to 180-225 students going abroad, per year.

The project objective and outcomes we believe will be achieved are:

1. By creating Faculty Champions in the college, there will be greater exposure to students of the study abroad opportunities and faculty will be able to recommend specific discipline options available to students.

2. This program will provide faculty with planning, pre-departure, safety and risk management tools to help them develop innovative, new programs
3. Faculty and instructors will be able to apply their research towards these programs and share this with students to engage them in undergraduate research as well as developing research skills.

The funding prioritizes the creation of programs that may attract students who traditionally weren’t able to participate in study abroad, most specifically those from economically diverse backgrounds, have disabilities, or who are Indigenous.

All faculty will be encouraged to integrate the Future Skills Innovation Network (FUSION) program organized by Career Services into their courses. As well, they will be guided on how students will benefit by taking the intercultural communication course and competence assessments offered by the International Student and Study Abroad Centre (ISSAC), and the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning (GMCTL). We will work with GMCTL to provide course creation assistance to faculty on their experiential courses and assist on implementing this into the curriculum.

Increasing Student Engagement through Peer-to-Peer Pathway Program and Universal Design in Wraparound Programs

University of New Brunswick

The GSO project is making student mobility financially feasible to previously excluded student demographics.
UNB’s inaugural year of GSO funding for short-term, structured summer abroad opportunities were successful in engaging students from the GSO target groups and from all academic disciplines. This first post-COVID/GSO cohort returned home with heightened self-confidence in their ability to travel and live abroad.

Year 1 program feedback and our own observations and experiences confirmed that GSO target group students require encouragement and support beyond what was considered acceptable/adequate pre-COVID. It also became clear that our promotional campaigns fail to engage all GSO eligible students and persuade them that an international experience is attainable, beneficial, and manageable.

To address these challenges, we propose a restructuring of our overall mobility preparation to systematically apply universal design principles in recognition of the diversity of student characteristics (i.e. learning preferences, mental health, travel experience and socio-economic status). A universal design philosophy centers learning around principles of accessibility, useability, and inclusivity.

Activities / Project Components

• Research and design a student-centric model that creates a positive and flexible learning environment and makes learning goals achievable by students of diverse characteristics and abilities.
• Create a Peer-to-Peer Pathway Program with a team of salaried, well-trained Student Peers (GSO alumni/international students) who can draw on their own travel experiences in guidance of others. As trusted and relatable role models, Student Peers can play a critical role in engaging and empowering future GSO participants, in keeping them retained after application and in internationalizing our campuses through this process. Student Peers will work closely with future student participants, who can rely on knowledgeable and experienced Student Peers in a safe space for tailored support as needed.
• Enhance wraparound programs and upgrade to emphasize active learning in small group settings. Our approach will be scenario-based with fictitious students who run into relevant and commonly encountered situations abroad. Outbound students will learn to solve these challenges using analytical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Our innovation elements include:
• Re-design of our wraparound programming to incorporate universal design elements that are usable, accessible, and inclusive.
• Establishment of a Peer-to-Peer Pathway Program and training of Student Peers (international students/alumni) who are readily available to mentor, advise and act as a sounding board for GSO participants.
• Design and delivery of relevant and impactful promotional campaigns which are student-focused to inspire students to apply to study abroad.

Learner-Centered Global Learning Program Recruitment: Harnessing the power of peer engagement through an Access & Inclusion-focused co-op placement

University of Calgary

One best practice for introducing new student audiences to global learning opportunities is to meet them where they are: in residences, club and affinity group meeting spaces, rehearsal, practice, social event and other community building spaces. Data collected in a survey of 2,000 UCalgary students identify financial means, access to information and the need for human-to-human guidance as three of the main barriers to participating in experiential learning activities at the University of Calgary. These findings demonstrate that who conducts outreach to students and in student spaces matters. Study abroad programs have positive outcomes for all students and research finds that outcomes are particularly positive for student groups historically underrepresented in higher education (Finlel and McNair 2013).

Goal 2 of University of Calgary’s Global Engagement Plan (2020) is to improve intercultural capacity of the campus community. Since traditional study abroad is marked by structural privilege, we know that to provide access to global learning, we must increase outreach to and support of students who are historically excluded from study abroad. Our target is for 50% of UCalgary students to graduate with a global learning experience, abroad or at home. In order to meet this goal and develop more thorough marketing and individualized pre-departure support mechanisms, UCI proposes the development of a 12-month co-op placement focused on developing and implementing these access and inclusion initiatives (Program Assistant, Access & Inclusion).

By piloting a co-op role within UCalgary International, our team is testing a new approach to preparing students with individualized student needs by providing a dedicated resource to focus on increasing awareness and participation by targeted student groups as well as relatable peer-to-peer support during their pre-departure experience. This position (to our knowledge) doesn’t exist at any other institutions in Canada. Partnering internally with the Taylor Institute by actioning their research and externally with global partners renowned for their support services, we will address the funding gap for students using meaningful and sustainable (and already existing) resources.

The funding will be allocated for a co-op student position through the Faculty of Arts Co-operative Education Program over a 12-month period. It will also contribute to marketing materials, spaces and promotional strategies that are based on inclusive access practices.

Navigating identities abroad: Innovative EDI Resources to support diverse students abroad

University of Alberta

Increased participation of diverse equity-seeking students in international learning opportunities is the University of Alberta’s top priority for this innovation call. This diversity includes the following students: Indigenous, racialized, 2SLGBTQIA+, students with disabilities, and students of faith communities.

Diverse equity-seeking students were historically under-represented in education abroad due to many challenges. The University is committed to removing the barriers posed by these challenges and increasing participation in education abroad by undertaking the following initiatives: developing innovative online EDI resources to address the issues and challenges faced by the diverse students; enhancing pre-departure support and services; and engaging education abroad participants and alumni as mentors for other equity seeking students.

The project will expand our identity abroad resources through the production of video resources, the implementation of a social media strategy using student influencers from our equity seeking student body, and refreshing our pre-departure material to ensure it engages diverse audiences.

As a start, the U of A has developed an Identity Abroad website to highlight key considerations and online resources for diverse students when planning for an education abroad program. However, much of the resources available online were US – based, making it necessary and urgent for us to create Canadian or U of A based resources which are more relevant and meaningful to our students. To address this gap, we completed a pilot project on a series of U of A based videos for racialized students which effectively address the challenges and strategies for black students. We are proposing to expand the video resources for the other equity-seeking groups.

In the expanded video collection, diverse students will share experiences associated with their identities in Canada and abroad, and recommend strategies for navigating identities abroad. The videos will be valuable and engaging tools for increasing prospective students’ awareness of and interest in work/study opportunities, reflecting on the issues and challenges identified in the videos, utilizing the recommended strategies to ensure their successful participation in programs abroad, as well as gaining meaningful and positive intercultural and personal experiences abroad.

The project will recruit a cohort of equity seeking students who are going abroad to be engaged in social media posts during their time abroad. Content from these posts will be incorporated into resources and the refresh of our online pre-departure orientation. Students will also serve as mentors and education abroad ambassadors when they return to campus from their international experience.

Mise sur pied d’une formation pré-départ sur la sécurité et création d’un registre des déplacements à l’étranger

Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)

Notre projet vise deux objectifs : 1) mettre sur pied une formation pré-départ sur la sécurité et l’adaptation culturelle pour les personnes étudiantes de l’UQAM qui souhaitent réaliser un séjour d’études à l’étranger ; et 2) créer un registre des déplacements à l’étranger qui permettra à l’Université d’aviser les personnes étudiantes concernées en cas d’urgence.

Ce projet correspond en tout point à l’un des exemples d’activités qui peuvent être menées dans le cadre des projets d’innovation, à savoir : « Services et soutien intégrés enrichis visant à prioriser la sécurité des étudiants, avant, pendant et après leur expérience d’études ou de travail à l’étranger (p. ex. mettre de nouveaux services à l’essai pour mieux appuyer les étudiants) »

En ce qui concerne la mise sur pied de la formation pré-départ sur la sécurité, nous ferons appel à des experts-conseils de l’Observatoire canadien sur les crises et l’action humanitaire (OCCAH) afin de sensibiliser les personnes étudiantes sur les risques et les enjeux de sécurité à l’international. Il convient de signaler que le programme de formation « gestion intégrée des risques et de la sécurité » développé par l’OCCAH est issu de l’expérience pratique acquise par les travailleurs humanitaires œuvrant dans des contextes sécuritaires précaires et enrichi par la recherche sur les meilleures pratiques et les standards internationalement reconnus dans le domaine de la gestion des risques et de la sécurité. Le fondement de ce programme est basé sur l’obligation de diligence qui détermine les responsabilités des organisations envers tous les individus qu’elles mandatent pour les représenter à l’international (voir ce lien pour plus de détails : Nous ferons également appel à un.e conseiller.ère (un.e psychologue) des Services-conseils pour ajouter un volet « adaptation culturelle » à cette formation.

En ce qui a trait à la création du registre des déplacements à l’étranger, nous comptons élaborer son contenu avec l’aide de l’OCCAH et faire aussi appel à l’expertise des unités suivantes de l’Université : le Service de la prévention et de la sécurité, les Services à la vie étudiante ainsi que les Services informatiques pour nous aider à créer ce registre et rendre son utilisation simple pour les personnes étudiantes.