Developing inter-cultural competencies without travelling

Internationalising the curriculum for healthcare students


  • Rachel Forsyth Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Claire Hamshire Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Deborah O'Connor Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Esa Barlund Turku AMK
  • Ursula Hyrkkanen


Healthcare professionals work with increasingly diverse groups of colleagues and patients in their practice, and it is essential that they develop intercultural competence. International experiences in healthcare curricula can help in this development, but healthcare students on courses tend to have limited opportunities for travel. This paper presents data on the use of an online classroom to provide an environment in which physiotherapy students from two countries could work together to review video case studies to enhance their knowledge and understanding of selected patient conditions and compare different approaches to diagnosis and treatment. These activities were integrated into the usual curriculum in both countries. Evaluation of students’ experiences showed that they valued the opportunity to engage with their peers in another country and were readily able to identify professional and academic benefit from participation. They commented on the impact on their professional identity formation, the benefits of widening their community of practice, and of becoming more interculturally competent. 


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Author Biography

Rachel Forsyth, Manchester Metropolitan University

Rachel Forsyth is Associate Head of the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at Manchester Metropolitan University. Rachel’s responsibilities include curriculum development and enhancement, assessment in HE, and staff development for link tutors and programme leaders. Her most recent projects include Transforming Assessment for Institutional Change (TRAFFIC), Students as Partners for the HEA, and Supporting Responsive Curricula. She was the recipient of MMU’s MMUnion Teaching Award for Outstanding Achievement in 2014.




How to Cite

Forsyth, R., Hamshire, C., O’Connor, D., Barland, E., & Hyrkkanen, U. (2020). Developing inter-cultural competencies without travelling: Internationalising the curriculum for healthcare students. Student Engagement in Higher Education Journal, 3(1), 167–189. Retrieved from