In the 2020 – 2021 academic year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Study Abroad Fair could not be held on campus physically. As the OIP team, we still wanted to continue our efforts to connect our students with partner universities. Therefore, the first Virtual Study Abroad Fair was organized on January 26, 2021. The aim was to connect Koç University students directly with the representatives of our partner institutions and to increase awareness of the diverse mobility opportunities with our esteemed partners all around the world. The fair was conducted with two separate sessions between 10:00 am – 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm for our partners in different time zones. The Virtual Study Abroad Fair was held through Microsoft Teams software, which enabled us to create “channels” (similar to virtual booths) for each partner institution as participants. Partner universities who participated in the fair were asked to submit several promotional materials, including the university logo, campus pictures, fact sheets, promotional videos (e.g. YouTube), and exchange brochures / flyers. The promotional materials submitted by the partner institutions were uploaded on the respective channel of each institution.
78 partner universities had participated in the fair (either in the morning – afternoon session or in both sessions). During the fair, representatives from some of the participant institutions joined the fair live and answered students’ questions through video calls or chat feature on Teams. The representatives who could not join the fair live shared promotional materials and KU students were able to visit their channels to examine their brochures, videos etc., as well.
After the Virtual Study Abroad Fair, the feedback we received from participants were very positive in general, and our partners expressed that the fair was very well-organized. Most partners highlighted that it is very important to organize virtual fairs, because we will most probably have more virtual events in the near future due to travel restrictions and COVID-19 measures. Moreover, our partners emphasized the importance of communicating with students and answering their questions directly, and they stated that MS Teams Software was highly effective for visiting each channel and connecting with other colleagues, as well.
Office of International Programs was present at APAIE Virtual Event on 23-24 March 2021 to meet with current and potential institutional partners. OIP’s Incoming and Outgoing Advisors had meetings with partner institutions and discussed various topics including how COVID-19 negatively affected exchange programs in 2020, the current situation and the foresight of the exchange activities in the upcoming academic year, exchange student numbers and balances, areas to expand the collaboration between institutions, scholarships, virtual exchange opportunities and the transition to the virtual exchange, student communication in light of COVID-19 updates and special summer programs.
At the scheduled meetings, partner university representatives received detailed information about KU’s incoming and outgoing activities, virtual exchange possibilities and the promotion activities for virtual exchange. Incoming and Outgoing Advisors at OIP also took notes on how partner universities managed their exchange programs in light of COVID-19 and how those institutions are preparing for the next academic year. The partner universities OIP had meetings with are as follows:
OIP representatives have been following up on the topics that were discussed in those meetings and they have also scheduled and will continue to schedule consecutive meetings following APAIE Virtual Event to strengthen and expand KU’s partnerships with institutional partners.
In coordination with the Office of International Programs, Koç University College of Engineering held two virtual scientific workshops with its prestigious partners in Iran. The first workshop was organized with Sharif University of Technology on February 9th, 2021. The main area of focus was Electrical and Electronics Engineering, and three sessions were designed for the following themes: Communication, Devices, and Signal Processing / Machine Learning. The workshop was open to KU & SUT communities. In the workshop, faculty members of both institutions presented their areas of research. As a result of the workshop, both institutions have identified areas, where faculty members of two institutions can collaborate.
The second workshop was held with the University of Tehran on April 7th, 2021. Similar to the structure and goals aimed at the first workshop, the main theme of the workshop was Electrical and Computer Engineering. The focus areas of the sessions were Microelectronics/Nano-electronics, AI and Data Science and Health Technologies.