International higher education for the development of students’ competencies
Coinciding with the 3rd Annual FRIENDS Day celebrations, Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) joined hands with its ERASMUS+ FRIENDS Project Malaysian partner to organise the FRIENDS project Internationalisation at Home (IaH) National Conference.
With talks by the host speakers and guest speakers on different enlightening topics, the agenda also included experience sharing by students who had earlier attended the student boot camp in Bulgaria, showcasing insights on intercultural awareness and cultural diversity in a university environment, as well as how beneficial these are in the workplace.
Introductions to the APU and BUC FRIENDS teams, Erasmus+, and the FRIENDS project kick-started the conference. The FRIENDS family consisting of 16 higher education institutions across Europe and Sout-East Asia highlighted the need for students to demonstrate an ability to work with people from different cultures during their internships and when they move into employment.
The host speakers for the show included Professor Dr. Andrew Seddon, Senior Director, Partnerships & Standards, APU; Associate Professor Dr. Jason Turner, Senior Head of School, School of Business, APU; Associate Professor Wong Bee Suan, Head of School, School of Computing, APU; Assistant Professor Ronald Willie Binati, Head of Programme, BUC.
Participants were updated on events and activities of the past years of the FRIENDS initiative, including the introduction of an intercultural passport module into the curriculum, and the setting up of the FRIENDS Teahouse on campus to provide a multicultural hub for students. The opening session then concluded with feedback from students to indicate what they thought of the intercultural passport module and the Teahouse activities.
The first guest speaker, Professor Dr. Mushtak Al-Atabi, Provost and CEO, Heriot-Watt University Malaysia, introduced the concept of soft skills through his ability to weave stories into his message, which saw participants were well engrossed in his session.
Following that, it was time for the APU student boot camp winners, who had recently returned from a one-month ERASMUS+ funded visit to Bulgaria with the winners from the other 11 South-East Asia institutions from Bhutan, Cambodia, Philippines and Thailand, to be interviewed about their experiences of the module and of the boot camp, as well as identifying the lessons learned and identifying how these lessons will assist in their future careers.
The second guest speaker, Ayse Deniz Ozkan, Vice-Director responsible for Global Education and Partnerships at Istanbul Aydin University, Turkey, provided a session on intercultural awareness and what this means for everybody no matter if they are a student, a lecturer, or a general member of the public.
The final guest speaker of the day was Associate Professor Dr Shankar Chelliah, Connor School of Management, Universiti Sains Malaysia, who spoke on the need to be globally minded to be competitive in the job market and to become a future entrepreneur.
Following the final presentation, it was time to reveal the winners of the September 2021 and November 2021 Intercultural Awareness and Cultural Diversity student digital stories. The winning stories were announced, and played, followed by interviews with two of the four winners who were available to join the event.
Winning contestants demonstrated a good understanding of culture and cultural awareness through their personal experiences.
The session concluded with a round-up from all the presenters with a clear message that Internationalisation at Home (IaH) is vital for students moving forward into their careers and should be considered a vital element for all institutes of higher learning.
The IaH is a network that promotes the development of international competencies amongst students through research and practice, and encourages sharing of ideas and experiences, focusing on students reaping the benefits of international higher education.
It echoes APU’s status of being ranked No. 1 for International Students in QS Asia University Rankings 2021 and rated No. 1 in Asia and Malaysia for the multicultural learning experience according to Student Barometer Wave 2019 (International Students) – studying with people from other cultures survey.
Established in 1987 by the European Community, ERASMUS is an acronym for the European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students. As part of ERASMUS+ key action for capacity building in higher education, FRIENDS projects aim to further international relations capacities and intercultural engagement to nurture campus diversity, hence developing students’ global competence through the integration of intercultural dimensions into the university’s formal and informal curriculum.
The recorded conference can be watched via youtube at –
Online Education Fair 线上教育展
Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU)