COVID-19 pandemic as an „opportunity window“ for the transition towards new and more inclusive internationalisation through virtual mobility

Acronym: COVIMO

Competition title: Erasmus+ KA226 Partnerships for Digital Education Readiness

Funding: Erasmus+

AFZ role: partner

Total value: €299,071.00

Funded amount: €299,071.00

Contract No: 2020-1-CZ01-KA226-HE-094453

Start date: 2021/03/01

End date: 2023/02/28



The pandemic COVID-19 significantly influenced education all around the world. It is also the case of tertiary education. The established practices in education were challenged and were altered in many ways. The bans on international travel and internal pandemic restriction significantly impacted the international mobility of students and internationalization in general. Under such circumstances, COVID-19, however, opened the “opportunity window” for innovations (novelties) in higher education practices. Nevertheless, every novelty takes some time to become established practice, if it happens at all. To become a part of “business as usual” the innovations necessitate not only appropriate technologies but also social acceptance. The last means not to create new barriers. This project uses such “opportunity window”. Its main object is through setting up a forum of cooperating universities to use the synergy of such network to reflect the transition towards new forms of on-line learning among university staff and students. The project also aims at using such forum to support the inclusiveness students and university staff to cope with the transition to on-line education and to be ready for the future situation necessitating intensive use of on-line educational and on-line supportive activities. Such a goal also involves the issue of virtual mobility of students and staff within international space. It means the project finally aims at testing various elements of virtual mobility within the real international joint programme of participating universities. The cooperation of the universities operating within different national contexts is intended to make such transition easier. It will support students and staff from 9 universities in Central and Eastern Europe (incl. countries outside EU but with significant contribution to the task of the project due to their specificity) focusing on life sciences and related disciplines (incl. social sciences) to use on-line education and virtual mobility in the situation when it is appropriate and needed (when on-campus activities must be substituted by on-line activities). The project utilizes desktop research of higher education reactions to the pandemic in term of their education. Based on such research it will prepare a set of various scenarios implemented in different national contexts. These scenarios will be a sort of menu indicating what measures and activities might be implemented by a university under various contexts caused by restrictions towards pandemic (but it might happen also when facing other far-reaching natural disasters disabling physical face-to-face education). Similarly to the scenarios showing the ways how the universities should act under various circumstances disabling their normal activities (a sort of crisis management scenarios), the manual of the best practices of the transition towards on-line education during COVID-19 pandemic in tertiary education sector will be. Based on the menu of scenarios and compendium of best practices the universities will elaborate learning and training materials for the staff and students facilitating their involvement in on-line education. All these activities (scenarios, compendium and training) will result into preparing the virtual mobility tools (using virtual mobility) to be utilized inside participating universities but also outside because the network of the universities involved in this project manages joint degree programme (The DanubeAgriFood /DAFM/ master programme is embedded in the CASEE /Central and South Eastern European/ network of life science universities). This study programme will be a sort of laboratory to test virtual mobility and training practices. As such it will echo a concept of living labs coined by EU. Such result will be achieved through desktop research and inventory research (scenarios, manual); examples of good (and bad) practices (scenarios, manual); developing learning and training materials observing methodological principles of on-line materials, training the staff and students towards better acceptance of on-line education without compromising the requirements towards the knowledge, skills and competencies in higher education, and testing the new practices of on-line education through virtual mobility implemented in virtual reality, including the documentation of their impacts for staff and students. The project will generate the materials which might be used whenever the universities are faced by similar restrictions as it is in the case of COVID-19 pandemics. As such they do not only reflect the experience but will provide certain guidelines also in the future, especially in term of life sciences with a traditionally large focus on presence type of education.


Prof. Darko Vončina, PhD
University of Zagreb Faculty of Agriculture


University of Ljubljana (UL)

State Agrarian University of Moldova (UASM)

University of Sarajevo (UNSA)

University of Zagreb (UNIZG)

Hungarian University of Agriculture and Life Sciences (MATE)

Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra (SUA)

Warsaw University of Life Sciences (SGGW)

University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU)


Maja Veber Zgombić, MSc. agr.
University of Zagreb Faculty of Agriculture

Martina Šipek Penić, MSc. agr.
University of Zagreb Faculty of Agriculture

Assoc. Prof. Boris Lazarević, PhD
University of Zagreb Faculty of Agriculture


Czech University of Life Sciences Prague (CZU)

Please sign in to your account

This site uses cookies and other tracking technologies to assist with navigation and your ability to provide feedback, analyse your use of our products and services, assist with our promotional and marketing efforts, and provide content from third parties. Cookie Policy.