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Making Internationalisation a Reality for Occupational Therapy Students
Start date: Sep 1, 2016, End date: Aug 31, 2019 PROJECT  ONGOING 

To meet the needs of a new European landscape of patients and health requirments this project aims to bring occupational therapy to a new level of professional identity and intercultural skills by intensive training face to face and web-based learning cross European universities and other community partners. Students, teachers and researchers from different European countries will work together to shape a European perspective within the field of occupational therapy and health sciences. Therapy profession, expanding opportunities to interact with other universities and health care systems. The proposed projects will:1. Combine the expertise of three universities to explore and offer innovative ways of meeting the educational needs of occupational therapists and evaluate these outcomes to demonstrate how working with ‘real’ projects in a contextualised manner which engages students differently develops their understanding. 2. Use the international community to strengthen and deepen professional identity to encourage students to work confidently with an occupationally focused approach. This unique approach aims to bring about transformational change to small and isolated groups in society. 3. Further develop an intercultural skilled workforce who can support the increasingly diverse populations of all partner countries to meet the needs of global health concerns.4. Develop a future workforce with the confidence and skills to work within the European and global work market to address global health and societal issues.The project will impact directly on 420 students and 35 staff from the 3 participating institutions. Approximately 84 community projects impacting directly and indirectly on 21,000 participants will be undertaken with opportunities to further this number through links with new partners. This does not include the ongoing impact of the work or the long term impact on the practice of the students involved in the project once qualified. Four types of activity will be used to achieve the objectives:1. Physical exchange learning week - Students will participate in education, practice and research based activities with community partners, focusing on how occupational therapists may support socially isolated groups in society to improve their health and wellbeing. Students and staff will work in mixed groups to develop professional knowledge, skills, professional identity, and language and cultural competencies. 2. Development of web-exchange and digital technologies to internationalise the classroom - Over a 10 week period mixed groups of students from each University will form a web-exchange group. They will establish informal relationships with one another learning about their educational programmes, healthcare and other sector systems. Each country will draw on authentic project work with their community partners considering the occupational needs of particular individuals, groups and communities. They will discuss and debate the similarities and differences in OT practice and consider how occupational issues might be solved differently. 3. Extend web-exchange partners - During the 3 year project the participating institutions will share links with existing partners and develop further European partners to expose the students to greater diversity, intercultural aspects and worldwide occupationally focussed solutions. 4. Staff exchange - The project aims to develop a clear and coherent scoping of staff working within all participating institutions to identify where staff may contribute to one another’s curriculum offering research expertise, new knowledge and innovative educational approaches. The project will strengthen the professional identity of occupational therapists who assert that meaningful engagement in everyday meaningful activities can influence health and wellbeing of socially excluded and marginalised groups. The projects will offer marginalised groups opportunities to have their stories heard and acknowledged while preparing graduates to think creatively about complex situations. Students and staff will offer solutions that benefit not only the service users but also families and communities and the organisations they work with so that they may make choices, and take control of their lives and aspirations. The project will develop guidelines on how the classroom might be “internationalised” in a different way so that all students can be included and begin to develop cultural competencies that will impact on their future practice in increasingly internationalised practice within their own countries. These opportunities will increase students’ confidence in addressing issues of international communities and encourage them to interact with web-based technologies to discuss with other professionals how social exclusion might be solved differently with local, national and international impact.
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