Universiteit Leiden

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International universities sign agreement for virtual exchange

Following a pilot introduced earlier this year, today nine high-ranking universities from across the globe, have signed an international agreement for a virtual exchange whereby they offer their students the option of taking online elective courses and gain credits for their bachelor or master degrees.

This global agreement represents a major step in digital higher education. In a bold collaborative move to innovate education, this group of reputable institutions has taken audacious steps by agreeing to recognise each other’s online courses and formally credit them for their students.

In a similar way to a university regular exchange –,such as the Erasmus in Europe,  students can obtain credits from a partner university that count towards their ‘home’ education. The difference of course is that in this ‘virtual’ exchange the students don’t need to travel, they follow the course online and  take the relevant course exams at their own university.

Starting from January 2018, students can take an online course from their own university or a course from one of the partners. As a result, the number of elective courses at the participating universities increases considerably. This is a novel way to look at internationalisation – offering students a new way to expand their knowledge and enrich their portfolio by giving them access to more expertise from reputable institutions worldwide.

The top universities participating in this innovative programme and signatories of the pioneering agreement are: Leiden University, the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Wageningen University and Research, Rice University, the University of Queensland, the Australian National University, the University of Adelaide and the Hong Kong University of Science and the Delft University of Technology.

On the advantages of the initiatives, Hester Bijl, Vice-Rector Magnificus at Leiden University, remarks: 'With virtual exchange students can profit from the broad range of high quality online courses made by our own university and our partner institutions, hereby expanding the offer of elective courses for students and more in general, the flexibility for them to shape their learning paths to their interests, skills and ambitions.'