WU: New international teaching programs starting in the fall


Starting in the fall, a new exchange program will be available: the European Common Online Learning Initiative (ECOL).

In addition to traditional exchange semesters that WU students can opt to spend at partner universities around the world, WU has long been interested in offering online courses in cooperation with international partner universities, e.g. as part of the SIGMA initiative, established in 2016, or the European University project Engage.EU. For WU’s Rector Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger, expanding the selection of international exchange options to include online courses and maintaining them even after the end of the pandemic is a matter of principle: “For a responsible university like WU, it’s important to offer exchange programs that are accessible to everyone interested in attending them, independent of socioeconomic background and possible barriers. Diversion and inclusion are important to WU, which is why we offer a wide range of international learning opportunities that go beyond physical mobility and provide opportunities for an international learning experience even for those students who either can’t or choose not to spend time abroad during their studies – for whatever reason.”

New initiative starting in the fall of 2021

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, online courses have often been the only way to gain any form of international experience. ECOL is an alliance of eight top business schools (Aalto University Business School [FIN]; Bocconi University [IT]; Copenhagen Business School [DK]; Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University [NL]; Esade Business School [ESP]; HEC Paris [F]; University of St. Gallen [CH], and WU), created to give bachelor's-level students the opportunity to gain international experience without having to travel to different countries, starting in the fall of 2021. “This program also gives students new international learning opportunities in addition to and beyond traditional mobility formats. At the same time, WU students are gaining access to highly relevant knowledge provided by renowned European business and economics universities, which is an excellent foundation for their future careers,” says the Rector.

High student mobility rates in spite of the pandemic

In addition to online course options, exchange programs are essential for an internationally oriented university like WU. Relative to the total number of students (WU is Austria’s 6th largest university), WU has more incoming and outgoing exchange students than any other Austrian university. Although the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in sharp decreases in the number of international exchange students worldwide, a total of 462 incoming exchange students came to WU from other countries to study for one or two semesters in the 2020/21 academic year. In spite of everything, 86% of these students were actually in Vienna in person. For the students who were not able to come to Vienna due to travel restrictions, all relevant courses were provided online. During the same time period, over 60% of the 409 WU students who attended international courses actually spent their time in the partner universities’ home countries.

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