The Virtual Mobility project of Una Europa: a proposal that looks at sustainability and inclusiveness

There is no doubt that mobility represents a crucial learning opportunity for university students. Studying abroad is essential to develop the personal, academic, professional, and intercultural skills and competencies required by a global knowledge-based economy.

However, the current Coronavirus crisis has confronted us with unprecedented obstacles that require creativity and innovation to be overcome. The universities of the Una Europa Alliance promptly moved their teaching and training activities online in response to the restrictive measures imposed by national authorities, but the experience gained wants to generate an impact even in the long term.

Consequently, mobility will have to be adapted and reorganized to meet the needs of a future that we have discovered to be uncertain. For example, by transforming "mobility" into "connectivity".

Mobility of the future: sustainable, inclusive and virtual

The first step towards the future will be to reinvent mobility models in a more sustainable and inclusive way, thus transforming this experience into an opportunity for growth and development for all. 

“Una Europe allows us to test new models of international mobility and connectivity that not only promote intercultural experiences, but are also more inclusive. This emergency offers us an even greater impetus towards the "virtual mobility" models that prove to be more sustainable and convenient," says Francesco Ubertini, Rector of the University of Bologna, the first partner of Una Europa hit by the emergency. "We want to experiment with new models that can make mobility a more intercultural and inclusive experience, while also involving those students who would generally be excluded from physical mobility programs for personal, financial or pandemic-related reasons."

The new mobility, developed together with the partners of Una Europa, explores three possible models. The first is based on a completely virtual mobility experience in which students will be able to attend lessons from other universities of Una Europa online and obtain the necessary credits.

In the second model, the goal is to develop joint teaching units, planned together by professors from the universities of Una Europa. Students will also have the opportunity to form groups, thus giving shape to a sort of international virtual community with multilingual teaching and learning.

Finally, the third model reflects the desire to restore normalcy, allowing students to spend a short period at their host university. Students will be considered in all respects in virtual mobility, but they will be able to carry out a period of mobility in presence at a chosen university of Una Europa, carrying out extracurricular activities in collaboration with public and private entities. Therefore, they will not attend classes at another university but will be involved in social engagement activities in another country.


The challenge: from the legacy of the crisis to the development of a new European society

To open the initiative to as many students as possible, it will be necessary to accompany them constantly and concretely on this path, paying particular attention to those who approach an international study experience for the first time. Also, it will be necessary to ensure that all students can actively participate in the lessons, even from a remote location, supporting the necessary technological transition.

"The planning and development of the first joint teaching activities of Una Europa will require us to embrace new themes and topics that go beyond the current areas of interest of the alliance," continues the Rector Ubertini. “Furthermore, we will not have to focus only on the courses already provided in English in our respective universities, but it will be our task to be able to offer the courses now taught in our original languages. This will be an important added value for international students and a concrete step forward in our commitment to multilingualism."


The future, by definition, constantly tests us. Our real challenge will consist in being able to capitalize on what has been done in response to an emergency, continuing to build on this basis an increasingly inclusive and sustainable university. A university capable of giving shape and voice to a better common future for Europe.