The FRIENDS project is rooted in the notion of internationalisation at home (IaH) that switches the focus of HEIs’ internationalisation activities from outbound mobility to systematic institutional efforts for improving non-mobile students’ global skills in domestic environments. In doing so, the FRIENDS project creates a paradigm shift at the 12 Asian Partner Country (PC) HEIs involved and introduces an egalitarian community spirit where internationalisation is not a privilege of the few any more but an asset all students can benefit from. Furthermore, the FRIENDS project applies a holistic approach to IaH that is perceived as a combination of diverse but complementary measures for intervention into HEIs formal and informal curriculum.
The following activities and key outcomes are envisaged in the 36-month long project that started on 15th November 2019:
1. Institutional IaH Action Plans adopted to streamline PC HEIs’ initiatives for IaH and to improve PC HEIs IROs staff and faculty’s capacities for internationalisation (WP2 Task Force Action Plan).
2. Intercultural Passport virtual module designed and embedded into PC HEIs’ elective curriculum to build students intercultural knowledge and sensitivity to cultural diversity. The Intercultural Passport is an innovative tool that combines virtual mobility and methodologies for validation of prior experiential learning evidenced through the means of digital storytelling. At least 180 PC HEIs students will be awarded an Intercultural Passport at FRIENDS’ initial phase (WP3 Task Force Action Plan)
3. FRIENDS Teahouses social spaces established at the 12 PC HEIs to function as student-friendly multicultural hubs that welcome diversity and support the welfare of students with diverse cultural backgrounds. In addition, the 12 FRIENDS Teahouses will contribute to the improvement of the overall university experience of PC HEIs’ students across campus. The Home away from Home Programme will be induced at the 12 PC HEIs involved as a model for integrated international student care and services. In the long run, the programme will contribute to the gradual increase of international and inbound students at the 12 PC HEIs (WP4 Task Force Action Plan).