Four members of the EU-supported UoH Harmony Project on Internationalization participated in the 4th International Conference of the Erasmus+ CBHE Harmony Project on “Internationalization in Higher Education and Borderless Cooperation Between European and Asian Universities,” hosted by Daffodil International University, Dhaka, Bangladesh from November 1-3, 2023. The delegation included Prof. J. Prabhakara Rao (CALTS), Prof. Aparna Rayaprol (Sociology), Dr. S. Shaji (Political Science), and Prof. R. Siva Prasad (retired, Anthropology). Representatives of partner institutions from Spain, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and India took part in this conference.
The conference was flagged off with welcome speeches by Prof. S.M. Mahbub Ul Haque Majumder, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Prof. Md. Fokhray Hossain, Director, International Affairs. Mr. Syed Raihan-Ul-Islam, Deputy Director, International Affairs at Daffodil International University, welcomed all the partners to Dhaka and extended their invitation to the partners to be involved in future projects as well.
Prof. Rafael de Miguel González of University of Zaragoza, Spain gave an update of the Harmony project, which is on the verge of completion. He focused on the academic, intercultural, and financial challenges of internationalization, and explained the implications of the project, beyond the five-year period. The international project called, “Internationalization and Virtual Exchange: Borderless between EU and Asian Countries,” involves institutions in Bulgaria, Lithuania, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and India, apart from Spain and Slovenia. In India, apart from UoH, the other participants include Vellore Institute of Technology and the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies. Ms. Christina Armutlieva of Varna Institute of Management discussed the successful completion of the Digital Storytelling competition and the boot camp hosted by VUM in Bulgaria. She was especially appreciative of the work done by students of University of Hyderabad, who went on to win the international competition as well.
In the following session, all the partner members reported on the state of the project in their respective institutions. The first presentation from UoH by Dr. S. Shaji and Prof. Aparna Rayaprol summarized the work of UoH in the Harmony project. It included adding to the infrastructure of the Office of International Affairs, organizing a workshop on internationalization for the university community and the digital storytelling workshop for the Integrated Master’s Students followed by their Bulgaria boot camp. They said that UoH was represented in all the project meetings at Mumbai, Varna (Bulgaria), Vilnius (Lithuania), and Zaragoza (Spain), Danang (Vietnam), and in Mumbai and Vellore within India, and the final one at Dhaka. They also talked about the Friends Teahouse set up at UoH and how the project team has been able to involve the students in their journey towards internationalization.
The second presentation was on the Erasmus Projects and Linkages at UoH was made by Prof. R. Siva Prasad and Prof. J. Prabhakara Rao. They underlined the long experience of UoH faculty in partnering with and managing Erasmus and other large projects funded by the European Union. They discussed the administrative and financial management of the projects, both within the institution and with the partners.
The second day of the conference was spent on a discussion among project coordinators regarding the logistics and management of the completion of the project by January 2024. The UoH team participated in this discussion, with a focus on the sustainability plan, especially in the running of the Friends Teahouse. Daffodil University presented their own journey of internationalization by establishing excellent infrastructure for their Friends Teahouse and Erasmus spaces within the international building. The Daffodil University successfully integrated the Harmony goals into their own internationalization programmes.