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Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL)

Find out about international online student projects taking place with NTU and how you can get involved.

What is COIL?

Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) is a form of virtual student exchange between NTU and our partner universities. Students from different countries are able to collaborate on a meaningful project relevant to their studies, using digital technology. You’ll find all the details on this page, including advice on how to get involved in this exciting innovation.

The COIL project will be pre-determined by colleagues in the two (or more) partner institutions taking part in the project to ensure that this meets the learning outcomes required by each institution. This activity does not have to be woven into a curriculum but can often be more successful when it is and when it is run over several weeks or more.

NTU has been collaborating with international partners on COIL projects for many years now and are now working to expand this activity to integrate COIL activity across the curriculum to create international opportunities for all our students without them having to leave the classroom.

Project Showcase 1

University of Groningen COIL Project

During the period November 2022 - January 2023,18 students from the School of Arts and Humanities at NTU, and 12 from the University of Groningen, Netherlands, took part in a Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) project titled “The 'Other' in Shakespeare: Contemporary representations of racial difference in England and the Netherlands”.

The 6-week project was run by Prof. Pete Smith, School of Arts & Humanities, and Dr Coen Heijes, University of Groningen. Students from both institutions collaborated in groups and gave a 20-minute online presentation to the rest of the cohort. The assessment brief was wide, and presentations were about the traditional literary criticism, theatre history, cultural/geographical explorations and even a creative writing piece.

Highlights of the project involved the (live and online) contribution of seasoned theatre creatives - an experienced English actor and a Dutch translator/director. Pete Smith’s COIL collaborator was a pre-existing academic colleague who had collaborated on research in the past. Pete chose to collaborate with a partner with whom he had already had a track record of previous collaborations.

Project Showcase: International Design Studio (IDS)

International Design Studio (IDS) based within NTU’s Product Design department focuses on supporting international thinking through project-based learning activities using the principle of Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL). Delivered within a virtual setting, the IDS facilitates (COIL) learning spaces with students from partnered institutions around the world; the activities provide a vibrant international experience to the student cohort, promoting the reciprocal exchange of intellectual knowledge and design culture.

Students are set a specific brief to research and explore the marketplace for. They then work in cross-border teams to design an object, consult on production and finally manufacture it. Although the conceptualisation, consultation, design and development are important stages for the students, the main benefits come from international interaction with another peer group.

For more information on IDS, please contact

The IDS projects were not only a great opportunity to add new designs to my portfolio, but an opportunity to improve my ability to communicate on an international level. I learnt to bridge language barriers through visual communication and better understand the design and consumer behaviour in other cultures.

Sohan Devabhai - BA Product Design

Showcase 2: Nottingham Business School and O.P. Jindal Global University COIL Project

During January 2021, 50 students from Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University (NTU) in the UK, and O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU) in India took part in a Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) Project within the field of business sustainability in India and the UK. The 5-day virtual programme, funded by UKIERI (UK-India Education and Research Initiative), provided the participants with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the Indian and UK contexts. The mixed student groups, comprising 5 NTU and 5 JGU participants per group, gave them first-hand experience to collaborate across cultures in a virtual environment. Five distinguished business partners were enlisted to provide opportunities for the groups to develop innovative solutions to real business challenges.

Read the full story here.

NTU partner universities (COIL)

Logo compilation COIL

We are collaborating with the following university partners on COIL projects:

  • The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, China
  • Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, China
  • Hanbat National University, South Korea
  • University of Alberta, Canada
  • Pearl Academy, India
  • O.P. Jindal Global University, India

Benefits of COIL projects

There are lots of benefits to this kind of collaboration, for our students and for us, as partner institutions.

Benefits for students include:

  • introducing COIL into a course is an excellent way to allow a more diverse group of students to achieve an international and intercultural experience from within their classroom;
  • COIL develops international thinking and cultural awareness, creates understanding of differences in cultural norms and practices, improves verbal and visual communication skills and provides an opportunity for students to exhibit work at an international level within physical and digital formats for use in a curriculum vitae.

Benefits for us, as partners, include:

  • opportunities to further internationalise and invigorate our curriculums;
  • the development of new, meaningful international partnerships;
  • bringing new perspectives to individual subject areas from participants across the globe.

We would like to expand our network of COIL partners across all subject areas and we would love to hear from you.

Global Conversations

De Paul University

One of the NTU partner institutions, DePaul University, established a new series of events for students to connect and discuss world issues.

To read the article please click here.

COIL Connect

NTU is a member of the COIL Connect network, a project of the COIL Virtual Exchange Foundation Inc, a not-for-profit corporation organised in the State of New York, USA. Their mission is to support the international growth of COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning) Virtual Exchange at the institutional level by identifying and connecting institutions undertaking this activity and linking teachers and classes with peers at partner institutions.

Do you have any proposals?

NTU is seeking to expand our network of COIL partners across all disciplines. We have 8 academic schools and around 35,000 students studying hundreds of courses. We are confident that we can build a project with you in any subject area.

Please contact us at to discuss how we can build new and exciting COIL projects to benefit our students, build our relationship as partners and develop our pedagogy together.

If you are an NTU colleague interested in COIL, please click here to access further resources and support.