Below you can read about how the Humanities International Student Society came to be, about our predecessor, the QA Programme, and about some of the challenges we’ve faced along the way.
HIntSS was originally founded on 11th June 2013, as the QA Programme. This was the date of our inaugural General Assembly, at which the seven founding members signed the first version of the Assocation Charter. To this day, the charter provides the programme with both its objectives and its operational framework.
The establishment of the QA Programme followed the approval – by Associate Dean for Education, Jens Erik Mogensen, and the Humanities Student Council, on 22nd February 2013 – of an initatiative to reinvent the existing mentor programme. This initative had been proposed by international student guidance counselor Michael Hockenhull, who went on to serve as 1st Chair of the programme for several semesters, before becoming vice-president upon his graduation from the university. Michael’s initiative was allocated 250.000,00 kr. and was ultimately realised as the QA Programme.
For several years, the QA Programme operated in the interests of domestic and international students alike; the organisation’s prevailing philosophy asserted that the experience of an international student at the University of Copenhagen should not differ particularly from that of a Danish student. To this end, the QA Programme sought to integrate the international study environment within that which already existed at the Faculty of Humanities. In support of this ambition, social events were organised that celebrated the diversity of our international student community – a tradition that remains central to our operations.
The global spread of Covid-19 and the resulting public health crisis did not spare Denmark: as an organisation hosting primarily social events, many of our activities were rendered impossible under government restrictions and we, like many others, were forced to operate solely in the digital space. Although we were able to resume some in-person activities – albeit cautiously – towards the end of 2021, engagement had suffered in the intervening period. Not only were there fewer international students, but both the Board and our supply of mentors had been considerably depleted. This made offering the same level of support as before a challenge, as our diminished Board of volunteers was left increasingly fatigued trying to oversee operations.
At the same time, we faced additional challenges, learning that the funding that we received from the Faculty of Humanities was to be reduced from 2022 onwards and that the name “QA Programme” was no longer considered appropriate. It had originally been imagined as a pun on KUA – pronounced in Danish in a similar fashion to the letters QA – the title by which South Campus used to be known and which is preserved in cultural memory. The name had reflected the dual purpose of the organisation: the nod to KUA asserted the intergrity of the international student body to the social and academic life on campus, whilst the association with Questions and Answers (Q&A) referred to our role in offering guidance to international students. It was felt, however, that, as new generations of students attended the university, the meaning would become lost as the term KUA fell into disuse. After some considerable discussion between different stakeholders, it was agreed that the mentor programme would, in the future, be known as HIntSS; this name seemed less obscure, whilst retaining the reference to the guidance (or hints) that we provide to new international students. In addition, it was felt that the term “society” would be immediately recognisable to attendees of English-speaking universities globally.
Having settled on a new name, and facing considerable operational difficulties from inherited and obsolete systems, the Board took the opportunity to renew and revitalise the mentor programme – developing, amongst other things, a new website and filing system. This process began in the Spring of 2022, the year in which the QA Programme formally became HIntSS.