Title: HERE Annual Conference 2018 "Capacity building for higher education reform: The impact of collaborative international projects" with the support of the European Union – SPHERE, EACEA.
Date: December 12-13, 2018
Location: University of Rome (La Sapienza), Rome, Italy
Participants: HERE teams, representatives of National Erasmus + offices, experts from EU countries and partner countries, representatives of the host institution (University of Rome). In general, about 120 participants took part in the event.
Participants from Ukraine:
1. Andriy STAVYTSKYY, Associate Professor of the Department of Economic Cybernetics, Economic Faculty, the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, HERE Chairman;
2. Vadym ZAKHARCHENKO, Vice-Rector, the National University "Odessa Maritime Academy", Professor, HERE;
3. Volodymyr BAKHRUSHYN, Professor of Department of System Analysis and Computational Mathematics, the Zaporizhzhya National Technical University, HERE;
4. Svitlana SHYTIKOVA, Director, National Erasmus+ office – Ukraine.
Programme and materials: https://supporthere.org/rome2018
DESCRIPTION AND KEY INFORMATION
The purpose of the conference was to discuss different models of inter-university cooperation to build capacity for higher education reform, analysis of the impact and effectiveness of Erasmus + projects at institutional, national and international levels.
The conference began with speeches of "Sapienza" university rector, Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, Chairman of EACEA education sector. The last speaker informed that almost 600 projects were implemented already, 583 projects linked more than 2000 universities within Erasmus+ programme. Among them, 508 joint projects and 73 structural projects were implemented, for which 522 million euro were spent. In particular, in the countries of the Eastern Partnership, 11% of projects were implemented. Among all projects, 43% were aimed at curricula development, 23% - at improving the links between higher education institutions and other partners, and 21% - at modernization of higher education institutions. Among the main fields for the development of new courses are education, environment, fisheries, engineering, health care, forestry and VET. While monitoring projects, it was noted that more than 87% of projects were rated as "good" and "very good", and only 3.6% had poor results.
The above statistics shows that in recent years the emphasis has shifted from the individual approach to more institutional, which improves the dissemination of results. At the same time, it was noted the lack of structural projects with ministries. Thus, in the nearest future, we should expect a reduction of the average project funding, in order to attract more new universities for greater dissemination of results. It is also important to improve the links between universities and ministries, which will increase the number and quality of structural projects. The participants noted that the priorities of the countries should be specified for the formation of a new class of projects. In particular, it must be a greater emphasis on blended learning, synergies of research and innovation, cooperation with business. For these priorities, additional resources will be allocated.
The next stage of the conference was a panel discussion about the prospects of building the capacity of universities. It stated, in particular, that the goal of universities should be to ensure the proper level of education quality for each person. It requires a significant improvement in the quality of education in most of not leading institutions, which is a complex but achievable goal. Minister of Civil Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina stated that in order to achieve this goal the communication with employers should be substantially improved. Unfortunately, in most countries, this is a significant problem because not all companies are ready to spend their time and efforts to modify educational programmes. By this time, the discussions on the professional orientation of the short cycle of higher education are continuing in Europe.
Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy paid significant attention to ensuring of maximum inclusiveness of education in the broadest sense, the same level of quality for all, students security issues, limitations related to political, ideological and other differences.
Head of Strategic Planning in DAAD shared the vision for the participation of DAAD in projects of cooperation in higher education, and Professor at Cairo University and former Minister of Higher Education of Egypt focused on providing a systematic approach to the development and implementation of projects on the development of capable educational systems.
The first plenary session was devoted to capacity-building projects and Bologna process implementation. The Minister of Science and Education of Croatia, the Head of the Department of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research of the Republic of Moldova and rector of the University (Republic of Kazakhstan) shared their countries experience. Priorities and challenges included, among others, the following:
quality assurance of the teaching staff;
internationalization of higher education;
improvement of educational programmes and quality of academic and professional studies;
ensuring of student standards and all social aspects of higher education;
strengthening of the links between higher education and society;
development of effective and progress-oriented financing of higher education.
The next stage of the conference was devoted to work in thematic groups in the format of roundtables.
The first group discussed the implementation of qualifications frameworks and recognition of qualifications in countries – participants of Bologna Process. During the roundtable, the experience of developing and implementing of national qualifications frameworks in Lebanon, Armenia and Ukraine was discussed. The similar features and differences were analysed. There was also discussion about the effectiveness of national qualifications frameworks as tools for recognition of qualifications and support of academic and professional mobility.
In the second and third groups, there were discussions on the issues of ensuring the quality of education and mobility, respectively.
The fourth group discussed the teaching of scientific and pedagogical staff. This section included projects from Moldova, Lebanon, Armenia, Algeria, Ukraine, Georgia and other countries, where special seminars, summer schools, teaching and certification centres for teachers were organized, which allowed for 15 to 40 teachers to be trained, in the future, they will dissimilate the knowledge gained in practice. Participants exchanged views on how to implement similar projects in the future. It was noted that it is not necessary to study absolutely all methods of training, but it is necessary to move from teaching to facilitation in the educational process. At the same time, it should be noted that the completed projects are still observed, therefore, the analysis of the final result is still inappropriate.
The second plenary session was devoted to capacity building projects and reforms related to institutional autonomy and governance. The representative of the European Association of Universities provided a general description of the capacity building projects in the countries of the Eastern Partnership and Central Asia, as well as recommendations for their improvement. Professor of State University of Iliya (Georgia) and special adviser to the Minister of Education, Science and Technology of the Republic of Serbia shared their experience with the implementation of such projects.
The SPHERE spokesperson's report was devoted to the analysis of the implementation of long-term commitments and the new goals and challenges at the EHEA. In particular, based on the materials of this year's report on the implementation of the Bologna Process, he demonstrated the progress in achieving the goals set out in the Lisbon Convention of 1998, as well as the uneven implementation of them, both between individual policy areas and between member states. In particular, he drew attention to:
- ensuring inclusiveness in a broad sense at all levels from higher education institutions to the EHEA as a whole;
- taking into account the third mission of universities, in particular, their global responsibility, in accordance with the goals of sustainable development;
- risk assessment for educational systems;
- development of flexible educational trajectories and student support services;
- the risks of stigmatization and biased benefits or discrimination of individual groups;
- the balance between selection and open access to higher education;
- application of digital technologies, etc.
The second day of the conference began with a plenary meeting devoted to the role of partnership and common advantages in implementing university capacity building projects, which featured by representatives of Italy, Jordan and Uzbekistan. It was noted that both parts (implementing the project and the project donors) must benefit.
Further work was implemented in groups formed on a regional basis. The Eastern European group discussed the issue of social inclusion for the training of disabled people, people with special needs, veterans and other social groups who, because of various reasons, have limited access to higher education. It was noted that in most countries there are no specific strategies for such social inclusion, however, practically in all countries, the legislation provides the opportunity to implement such a policy.
At the final session, the results of the conference were summed up. In particular, it was noted that trust is a cross-cutting strip of cooperation. This concerns both the implementation of projects and works in a common educational area. An important feature should be the involvement of new universities in project activities, which will allow for the creation of powerful consortia for the carrying out of various tasks and the dissemination of best practices. To realize these opportunities, it has been suggested for the opportunity for universities to submit one project several times in different competitions, which will increase the probability of winning. It was noted that inclusion should be considered in a broad sense, and not only for people with special needs. Inclusion was also discussed at the institutional level (small universities, regions with limited capabilities, etc.). Finally, practical steps should be taken to synergy research and innovation at the practical level.
THE LEARNING OUTCOMES OF THE CONFERENCE ARE THE FOLLOWING:
1) Acquaintance with analytical information on the structure and efficiency of Erasmus + implementation of capacity building projects and their perspectives in the context of the development of European higher education;
2) Increased understanding of the Bologna Process progress and the new challenges at the European Higher Education Area;
3) Study of successful practices in the design and implementation of higher education capacity building projects;
4) Improved understanding of the processes of national qualifications frameworks implementation and their role in recognition of qualifications.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR UKRAINE
1. To take into account the information on the state of the Bologna Process progress and the further tasks for the European Higher Education Area development to formulate a Work Plan(s) for the National Team of Experts on Higher Education for the next 2 years. In particular, to pay attention to review of the National Qualifications Framework; implementation of ECTS provisions; recognition of qualifications; quality assurance in higher education, ensuring greater inclusiveness.
2. To pay special attention to the effectiveness of structural reforms as a result of the implementation of Erasmus + projects and their focus on the actual needs of national higher education reforms.
3. To implement at the national level the update and professional development programmes for Ukrainian academic staff.
4. To encourage employers to engage in educational programmes and create a new Classification of Occupations.
5. To clarify in the Law of Ukraine "On Higher Education" and other legislative documents the provisions concerning the short cycle of higher education in order to bring them into line with the new wording of the QF-EHEA.