Please describe your institution”s international (EU and non-EU) strategy. In your description please explain a) how you choose your partners, b) in which geographical area(s) and c) the most important objectives and target groups of your mobility activities (with regard to staff and students in first, second and third cycles, including study and training, and short cycles). If applicable, also explain how your institution participates in the development of double/multiple/joint degrees. (max. 5000 characters)
With Croatia approaching the EU and with the implementation of the EU development strategies, but also with the renewed establishment and redefining of the social value system, we expect that the value of education will increase through the push for improved competitiveness of local economy based, above all, on competitiveness of the society”s human potentials and hence quality of the educational systems. In such circumstances, we also expect that distinguished and established institutions founded upon true values and well-connected to the labour market and international partners stand to benefit the most from the positive changes. As a private HEI, funded mostly by our students’ tuition fees, we are quite aware of the importance of continuous development and we know that, in the dynamic market conditions, every halt or slowdown of growth and development really means a reversal in comparison with the constantly developing environment. We also know that our competitive advantage, the key of our survival as a private education supplier can only come from internationally comparable quality and the high values we give in return for the tuition.
For the above-mentioned reasons, one of the main goals of our development strategy (2009-2013) is to achieve the EU quality standards in HE and to approach the EHEA. Therefore in 2008 and 2009 we signed the first contracts on academic partnership with technology companies (Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, SUN, IBM) who made it possible for the teachers, students and the employees to access the official teaching materials and software licences for the companies” products. In order to build an internal quality assurance system as well as have more international experience which would increase the relevance of our institution, in Spring of 2009 we initiated an international project within the Flemish government programme, ” Co-operation programme between Flanders and Central and Eastern Europe – call 2009″. The project was approved for financing at the end of 2009 and was officially started in January of 2010. As the result of the project, University College received a positive Institutional Audit Report from the Dutch-Flemish accreditation agency NVAO. The formalisation of the activities conducted in order to establish a broad and meaningful international collaboration was additionally confirmed on 30. 11. 2011 by University College being awarded the Extended ERASMUS University Charter, which allowed for additional financial and organisational support to new and then already-signed bilateral agreements with education institutions throughout Europe and stimulate the exchange of teachers and students.
In respect to international cooperation, our first priority is mobility of students, both for study and work placement, and mobility of teaching and other staff. The mobility of students is aimed at raising their skills and knowledge level and offering them the experience of studying or skills training in other cultural and educational environments. Student placements are of great importance in professional education, especially in the education of computer professionals, whose study curriculum requires a large proportion of skills training in industrial environments. This experience would enhance their flexibility and competitiveness at the European labor market. The mobility of teaching and non-teaching staff is aimed at improving the quality of study and teaching processes, at exchange of good practices, and at improving the Institution’s organization. The second priority is a multilateral cooperation between HE institutions, specifically the curricula development projects and joined study programs. The aims are to constantly improve the existing study curricula to be recognized in other similar HEI’s, and to develop integrated study programs that would enable us to issue a recognized degree – both at bachelor”s and master”s levels or at shorter continuing education for professionals.
As a young and still internationally unestablished institution, we are not in the position to get best international HEI’s as our partners, although we try to cooperate with high class institutions relevant in IT and computing form European countries and USA. So far we managed to sign number of bilateral agreements (most of them supported by Erasmus), and have positive response due to the NVAO assessment as well as National Agency (ASHE) reaccreditation and internal quality assurance system, positioning us as the best professional HEI in Croatia. Since we offered our master program only last year, we are still more concentrated on mobility for our bachelor level students, although we are promoting mobility on 2nd level also. So far we did not achieve any results in developing dual degree / joint program, but provision of such degree to our students is one of our most significant short term strategic objectives.
If applicable, please describe your institution”s strategy for the organisation and implementation of international (EU and non-EU) cooperation projects in teaching and training in relation to projects implemented under the Programme. (max. 2000 characters)
The objectives we want to accomplish through international cooperation activities make a part of a broader set of objectives of the development of a relevant and successful educational institution, laid down in our Development Strategy 2009 -2013 and implicitly contained in our Vision. To make it specific, the University College described international cooperation within the Strategic objectives with specific focus on international cooperation projects. As a result, during the last 3 years we actively participated and still participate in number of international projects such as:
International Methods Database for Vocational Orientation in Group Settings, financed from Lifelong Learning programme – The Leonardo da Vinci – Transfer of innovation, the carrier being ABIF, Vienna, Austria with partners from Poland, Turkey, Croatia, France and Ireland. Career counselling methods, among other, for university career centres will be developed through the project.
We initiated and participated in the pilot project in quality assessment in HEI’s, financed through Flemish government funds within the programme “Co-operation programme between Flanders and Central and Eastern Europe – call 2009“ the carrier being NVAO, Den Haag, the Netherlands.
IPA mutual learning programme community of practice, financed by European Commission through European Training Foundation (ETF), Torino, Italy with the aim of analysing preconditions and possibilities of introducing short programmes in higher education at EQF 5 level (Short Cycle) in IPA countries. UCACE Dean participated in the project.
We applied for and obtained the status of the National Contact Point of the activity of the EU e-Skills week in 2012 and 2013.
A member of UCACE’s Managing Board, represented Croatia in the sessions of EURASHE Council and participated in work of all task forces and helped organize the 2013 annual conference of EURASHE in Split, Croatia together with other staff from our institution.
Please explain the expected impact of your participation in the Programme on the modernisation of your institution (for each of the 5 priorities of the Modernisation Agenda*) in terms of the policy objectives you intend to achieve. (max. 3000 characters)
Our participation in the Programme will have positive impact on some Modernisation Agenda (MA) priorities, while we plan to tackle others by other internal development activities and objectives. Expected modernisation results coherent to MA priorities that will be underpinned by the Programme are as follows:
1. Increasing attainment levels to provide the graduates and researchers Europe
needs – this MA priority is incorporated in our Development Strategy (DS) and will be mostly supported through proactive involvement of the career centre and teachers, as well as attracting better potential students. Our involvement in the Programme will certainly help better position our institution and attract better potential students, who will achieve better attainment levels.
2. Improving the quality and relevance of higher education – this MA priority is also part of our strategy and is strongly supported by our Economic Council populated by most important national employers relevant to our programs. Involvement in the Programme already helped attract international employers, increasing that way relevance of our institution and helping develop our programs. On the other hand, staff development, as part of this priority could be also closely linked with our involvement in the Programme due to the fact that international experience as well as foreign guest lecturers will underpin our internal staff development.
3. Strengthening quality through mobility and cross-border co-operation – this MA priority is fully supported with our involvement in the Program and is also stipulated by our DS through number of measures and set indicators. We believe that as a part of the Programme, we might attract good students, academics and researchers from abroad as a key drivers of quality. Furthermore through development of NQF and its link to EQF we expect to further develop mobility of our graduates. Activities aimed at implementation of NQF on the institutional level have been so far supported by EU funds and international projects.
4. Making the knowledge triangle work: Linking higher education, research and
Business for excellence and regional development – this MA priority is one of the most important parts of our development strategy due to the fact that as private HEI we need to provide incentives in terms of relevance and employability to our prospective students. Our partnership and cooperation with business might be supported through the Programme via work placement abroad for our students, increasing their employability potential and hence our institution’s relevance.
5. Improving governance and funding – this MA priority more applies to public HEI’s due to the fact that we already have governance model that is fully linked to the market and influenced by achieved results. Still, in respect to funding which is in case of private HEI in Croatia fully left to the market, Erasmus support to our students and staff would be valuable and helpful.