Thanks to its strategic goal “internationally involved and networked” and engagement to cultivating global culture, the University of Stuttgart has attracted and will continue attracting international students from all over the world. The university has made significant progress by providing multiple English study programs in different disciplines. Nevertheless, language is still one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of international students’ orientation and integration into the communities both on the campus and in the city, not to mention the fact that potential applicants may be held back by such linguistic obstacle. On the other hand, due to the COVID-19, most of the lectures, seminars, and extracurricular activities have been moved to online and many international students are experiencing difficulties in traveling from their home countries to Germany. This will probably last in the near feature during pandemic and post-pandemic times, exacerbating the vulnerability of the group of international students.
VOIS is aimed at designing an orientation program to promote the integration of the group of students, who may be disadvantaged by their limitations in language and mobility of locations, utilizing immersive 360° videos and interactive VR orientation scenarios with useful information and resources, such as faculty facilities and academic advice. Extensive research will first be conducted on questions: (1) what are the major obstacles that international students have been faced with in their orientation; (2) how a non-verbal and immersive program could sustainably help them overcome barriers of language and locations. After understanding international students’ genuine interests and concerns, a VR-intensive orientation program for the first-year students will be designed to promote communication that is not language intensive, and to provide an interactive and immersive orientation environment. The project will address SDG 4, SDG 10 and SDG 17 and the specific targets achieved can be referred to in the first section “Goals addressed in VOIS”.