Students from Asia addressed the question of ‘What is internationalisation for me at the UCPH?’ and explored what it means for Asian students to study in Denmark. In doing so, they created digital stories of intercultural experience.


What is the InterUCPH project?

InterUCPH is an abbreviated project name for ‘Developing UCPH towards further internationalisation, the Danish way: Empowering foreign students and staff with their intercultural experience via visual ethnography of UCPH students and staff from China, Japan and Korea’

It is a teaching innovation project funded by SAMF, the University of Copenhagen. This teaching based project is to work with students from East Asia and produce a visual ethnography exhibition featuring their experience of living and studying in Denmark.

The project is aimed at the creative use of digital technology for producing visual ethnography, whereby students capture the moment by moment transformation as they study at UCPH and travel around Denmark and to other parts of the Nordic Region. The exhibition will stimulate dialogues between students and staff from Asia and other UCPH community members as well as enlighten the Danish public by exposing an outsider’s perspective on Danish society, culture and Nordic values. The exhibition will showcase the East-Asian students’ ethnographic work in which dialogues between students and staff from Asia and other UCPH community members will be prompted. The exhibition will later travel to three partner universities in Asia, creating a platform for future research collaboration on internationalisation.

The dialogue produced in the exhibition will be a viable basis for creating a platform for future internationalisation and intercultural understanding.

Why this project?

What does it mean for students from East Asia to live in the new socio-cultural world of UCPH in Copenhagen, Denmark? Very little is known or has been made visible about what it is like to be a student or member of staff coming from Asia, living, studying and working at UCPH. Intercultural transitions from East Asia pose many challenges to both students and staff across the board. Globalization in general and of our own academic environment provides opportunities and challenges, often both at the same time. Recently, UCPH appeared in the top 100 in a well-known US league table. The ranking and external funding are interlinked, as is the internationalisation of the academic environment at our university. The quality of both teaching and academic output is improved through the internationalisation of the teaching staff as well as of the student population. To attract more of both, we have to improve the quality of our system on several levels in addressing the following questions:

  • how we become visible as an attractive host university (among 99 other elite universities); how we establish a safe and accommodating environment;
  • how to help students and staff to settle in our environment and to feel at home here;
  • how to avoid the incoming students and staff being perceived as a burden for the administrative staff (and the other way around).

These and other related issues deserve an increased attention. The proposed project is focused on the perspective of students and staff from East Asia. In order to improve our attractiveness to students and researchers from these three countries (China, Korea and Japan), bearing in mind that we are small and that we have to compete with 99 other elite universities around the globe, we have to be innovative, work smart, and identify niches, whereby what we can offer appeals to what East Asia is looking for. The first and necessary step in that direction is to map the existing environment based on the visual ethnography of East-Asian students at UCPH, and then use this insight to a) improve what we offer, and b) promote UCPH in China, Korea and Japan as the best “New Nordic” international academic environment.

Aims of the project

The project has two aims. It is aimed at

(1) Enhancing the East-Asian students’ learning of Danish culture and society, supporting the process of transition and acculturation and empowering them as critical reflective participants in UCPH and Danish society at large;

(2) To help raise the intercultural awareness amongst the UCPH community and actively engage with the student voice from East Asia toward internationalisation of UCPH.