Five members of the EU-supported UoH Harmony Project on Internationalisation participated actively in the international conference on “Internationalisation in Higher Education and Borderless Cooperation between European and Asian Universities” held at the Vellore Institute of Technology on April 12 and 13, 2023. Led by Prof. N. Siva Kumar, Dean, School of Life Sciences, 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 reported on their own institutional journeys with the Harmony project.

In his opening address, Prof. Rafael de Miguel González of University of Zaragoza, Spain gave an overview of the Harmony project and stressed on the fulfillment of the goals of the project in the last phase over the next year. He talked about the academic, intercultural and financial challenges, and implications of the project beyond the five years. He also hoped for continued collaborative work on internationalisation. Ms. Christina Armutlieva from the Varna Institute of Technology discussed the Digital Storytelling Project and the competition being held in the partner countries. The University of Hyderabad was one of the first to complete the competition and announce the results of the competition.

In her lecture on “Internationalisation of Higher Education,” Prof. Aparna Rayaprol focused on the challenges and learnings based on the long experiences of internationalization at University of Hyderabad. She pointed out that with a mix of smaller and larger institutions in the Harmony project, one must see their internationalisation goals as different, depending on their size and specialized mandates. She underlined that they need to use their strengths to forge global partnerships. A bottom-up approach where the faculty take leadership in initiating collaborations has been the most successful strategy. The next presentation from the UoH by Prof. N. Siva Kumar and Dr. S. Shaji summarized the involvement of UoH in the Harmony project. 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. The Harmony team at the UoH also held a one-day capacity building workshop on Internationalization for the officials of the university.

The first panel discussion focused on the concept of Friends Tea House and its goal for promoting intercultural understanding. A new facility called ‘Friends Tea House’ funded by the European Union-supported Harmony Project on Internationalisation at UoH was opened in the SIP Building on April 11, 2023, for international students by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. B. J. Rao. It was inaugurated in the presence of the international project coordinator of Harmony, Prof. Rafael de Miguel González, and Juan Antonio Vallés Brau of University of Zaragoza, Spain, and Slovenian partners of the project, Dr. Olesea Sirbu and Ms. Anastasia Strelnicova, who visited UoH on their way to the Vellore conference. The idea behind the Tea House is to create a social space on the campus for international and domestic students to interact and contribute to enhancing intercultural awareness.

The second panel discussion was on International Projects and Linkages in which Prof. R. Siva Prasad and Prof. J. Prabhakara Rao participated on behalf of UoH. They underlined the long experience of  UoH faculty in partnering with and managing Erasmus and other large projects with 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 planning for the future and discussion on the problems and hurdles that different partners have been facing. The conference ended with thanks to the generous hosts at VIT led by Prof. Seenivasan.

The final meeting of the project will be hosted by the Daffodil University in Bangladesh in November 2023.