Internationalisation at Home: Practices to Support Building Bridges between International and National Students for Intercultural Competence Development

Louisa Hill (University of Leeds)

Wednesday, March 31, 2021 9:00 AM - 9:45 AM

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Session Outline

As businesses face growing cultural and global interconnections, there are increasing calls from employers for universities to equip students with intercultural competences (Gribble & Coelen, 2019) to enable them to cultivate trust with clients, work with diverse colleague and increase team efficiency (British Council, 2013). This fact is also recognised by numerous external stakeholders including leading accreditation bodies (e.g. AACSB, 2016; AMBA, 2016) and governmental agencies (e.g. Department of BIS, 2013; UNESCO, 2013).

Despite there still being an implicit assumption by universities that intercultural competencies are automatically developed when international and national students meet for long enough (Gregersen-Hermans, 2019; Mestenhauser, 2007), Allport (1954) in his Intergroup Contact Theory confirms that this is not the case. This view is endorsed by numerous studies (e.g. Yefanva, Mongomery, Woodruff, Johnstone & Kappler, 2017). Gregersen-Hermans (2014) advises that to address this, personal tutors and other academics should design experiential learning methods, which should be later reflected upon (Kolb, 1984), to develop meaningful interactions between international and national students.

The design of the workshop that will be the focus of this interactive workshop, was implemented by a Professional Development Tutor in the first few weeks of semester one to support all postgraduate taught business students in recognising the need to develop intercultural skills through group work to enhance their employability and also support them in working cohesively in multinational team assessments in their programme. The workshop that was designed included a mini lecture on intercultural competence, together with an icebreaker activity that introduced them to the importance of intercultural competence, particularly when working in a team. This led to the main activity, a building bridges experiment, with international and national students involved in a peer learning activity to raise their awareness of the Attitudes, Skills, Knowledge and Comprehension (Deardoff, 2006) required for intercultural group work. Finally, it culminated in students reflecting on the activity to promote a deeper understanding of different cultures and sociolinguistic awareness.

It should be noted that the building bridges workshop is an introductory session, which aims to form part of a series of sessions in the future and is therefore a case study in progress.


  • Recognise the need to support international and national students’ intercultural competence development.
  • Identify key intercultural competence theory.
  • Participate in excerpts of a real session used to develop international and national students’ intercultural competences.

Audience Interaction

The workshop will be delivered in three parts, comprising of a definition and overview of intercultural competence theory, as well as research from various stakeholder perspectives of the need for international and national students to possess intercultural competence. There will be an outline of the case study context and the workshop content when it was delivered to postgraduate taught students.

The majority of the workshop will encompass a hands-on task from the case study workshop, giving participants a flavour of intercultural competence development through a building bridges activity.

Finally, there will be a brief opportunity for question and answer.


Participants will gain an insight into intercultural competence and an appreciation of the need to develop these in both international student and national students. They will be provided with and given the opportunity to partake in interactive elements of an innovative workshop that is proven to develop students’ awareness of intercultural competence. This innovative workshop can be used in one session or as part of a number of curricular or co-curricular sessions. It can also serve as a means of stimulating further discussions and activities around intercultural competence development.

This session addresses the following competencies of the UKAT Professional Framework for Advising and Tutoring
R4 - Plan and conduct successful advising and tutoring interactions