On the 6 February 2021, King's Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences (FoDOCS) and Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) from Japan, conjointly hosted an inaugural online exchange event that focused on education and students’ wellbeing, providing a new opportunity for students and staff to directly engage in discussions with peers from TMDU.
The beginning of the close relationship between the two well-known and globally important academic centres for dental education and research goes back to 2008, when an academic exchange agreement was signed by previous Deans Prof. J. Tagami and Prof. N. Wilson. The success of the agreement has been evidenced by over 50 undergraduate student visits who have been able to observe the practice of dentistry in a new cultural environment, undertake research projects and meet fellow students in a foreign University. It has also offered a valuable platform for further collaborations, networking and friendships to evolve between the two institutions among both our students and staff.
At these unprecedented times, when travels and students’ electives have been suspended due to safety provisions, a ‘virtual’ exchange platform enabled us to continue preserving our important relationship and giving students and staff the opportunity to continue engaging and collaborating, remotely.
This ‘virtual’ exchange microsite, supported by the FoDOCS iTEL Hub and the live event supported by TMDU, gave King's the chance to host an external even seamlessly. The live event video conferencing took place on February 6, where students’ and staff’s break out online group discussion focussed on exchanging experiences and ideas on various responses to challenges and changes caused by COVID-19, as well as on views towards the future.
The event was supported by pre-recorded presentations contributed by both students and staff. There is now an opportunity to those who missed the event from FoDOCS and TMDU to view these videos, engage in online Padlet discussions and share your ideas using the below link to access the microsite on:
This event will be followed by a planned research-focussed event and the two institutions look forward welcoming their staff and students to join them in the next exciting opportunity to exchange experiences, views and ideas later on during the year.
Thanks to the FoDOCS Organising Committee: Dr. Ana Angelova Volponi, Dr. Richard Foxton, Dr. Maisa Seppala, Prof. Karen Liu and Dr. Jonathan San Diego
Reflections on the event:
Prof. Sachiko Iseki (TMDU):
“We are very happy that we were able to experience exchange of not only students but also faculties. We hope we can develop new aspects of an international exchange program together between our Dental Schools.”
Dr. Ana Angelova Volponi (FoDOCS):
“As Tokyo Medical and Dental University’s alumni and current FoDOCS staff, deepening the collaboration between our two dental schools have a special meaning for me. Having the opportunity to obtain my PhD at TMDU have not only been a profound professional, educational and research experience, but a life changing cultural experience. It opened new, broad views towards the world, building friendships and bonds for life!”
Jitesh Jassal (BDS student, FoDOCS):
“The online exchange event between FoDOCS and TMDU was an excellent opportunity for students and staff to discuss how we are coping with changes as dental students, whilst also appreciating the successes of the respective Faculties in dealing with the pandemic, to maintain the high level of education they are known for. It provided a way to let students network and be reflective in their discussions and emphasised the importance of ongoing collaboration between FoDOCS and TMDU. “
Catherine Cutler (BSc/DTH student, FoDOCS):
“Taking part in the exchange call between KCL and TMDU was a unique opportunity to meet fellow dental students from another country, and it was great to have the time to talk with each other in breakout sessions, to understand the differences and similarities of how our dental schools have adapted to COVID-19. Whilst both schools have moved to online learning, TMDU have more synchronous online teaching compared to KCL, however KCL have been able to hold more exams online. Another interesting point was that TMDU are supporting students by sending out a regular wellbeing questionnaire, which is used to highlight any students who may need additional support.
As a first year student, it was also very interesting to hear about the history and connections between the two dental schools and the broader opportunities that exist whilst studying at university, such as research exchanges and electives.”