Research Articles

Virtual exchange for internationalisation at home in China: staff perspectives




internationalisation at home, virtual exchange, Chinese higher education, intercultural competence (IC)


Despite the central role of internationalisation strategies in the agendas of universities all over the world – with BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) emerging as powerful regional stakeholders – very few studies have investigated how internationalisation is interpreted and operationalised in non-Western contexts. We offer an exploration of Internationalisation at Home (IaH) (Robson, Almeida, & Schartner, 2018) in the context of Chinese Higher Education (HE) with a focus on the perceptions of staff. This qualitative study investigates how 15 teachers and administrators understand the practice of Virtual Exchange (VE) within their institution’s IaH agenda. Findings show that participants think that VE could contribute to internationalisation and provide an inclusive way of accessing international and intercultural experiences. VE has the potential to enhance internationalisation and global engagement of Chinese HE Institutions (HEIs). At the same time, its implementation presents challenges that require careful consideration and planning. These include means for establishing partnerships with a mutual understanding of realities, unique power dynamics among learner groups, and techno-political challenges.

Author Biographies

Sara Ganassin, Newcastle University

Sara Ganassin is a Lecturer in Applied Linguistics and Communication at the School of Education Communication and Language Sciences, Newcastle University (UK). She holds a PhD in Education from Durham University. Sara’s research interests include internationalisation of higher education and mobility, migrant and refugee communities, and Chinese heritage language learning and teaching. She was involved in different projects on internationalisation and intercultural learning in Europe and China.

Müge Satar, Newcastle University

Dr Müge Satar is Lecturer in Applied Linguistics and TESOL at the School of Education Communication and Language Sciences, Newcastle University (UK). Her teaching and research focus on foreign language learning and teaching using technology and through online multimodal interaction. Dr Satar is the School director of internationalisation, executive board member of UNICollaboration, and co-editor of the Journal of Virtual Exchange.

Ashleigh Regan, Newcastle University

Ashleigh Regan is a postgraduate student in Cross-Cultural Communication and International Relations at the School of Education Communication and Language Sciences, Newcastle University (UK). Her research investigates Welsh as a heritage language particularly in relation to new speakers. She studied Mandarin in Hainan University and she has been involved in different projects about interculturality and language engagement.





Research Articles