Quality Assurance of Higher Ed: Competitiveness, Planning and Cooperation

International stakeholders of QuAsER project (Quality assurance of higher education - bridging the best EU practices and the Russian policies) initiated a seminar, which took place at ITMO U on June 10, 2016. Experts from Finland, France, the US and Russia shared their experience in organizing academic mobility and international educational programs.

Anita Bisi, International Relations Manager at Aalto University, opened the meeting. The expert compared university with a complicated mechanism, which cannot work correctly without a “team play” of all details and parts. Anita Bisi talked about making the right schedule. It includes curricula planning, making new educational programs, “hunting” for tutors who supervise summer schools and professors who will teach next academic year, writing annual reports, meeting planning etc. it is also very important to pay attention to newcomers, assist both staff members and students to adjust to a new university. Thanks to the scheduling it is easier to systematize tasks and add new ones so as to improve quality of education.

According to Ms. Bisi, making plans for the future is an integral part of education because one has to know what skills and competences will be required in several years. It helps students become competitive specialists. The expert also mentioned such significant aspects as interaction with students, tutors, researchers, partners as well as experience exchange with colleagues.

Anita Bisi talked about how Aalto University interacts with the Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland. Every year the University initiates some changes but few of them are fundamental. They are necessary because the system cannot be stable. Sometimes one should change educational programs or cancel them if nobody is interested in it as well as develop new disciplines.

Fatou Esteoule, presented academic mobility programs organized by Université Paris Diderot,  where she serves as head of International Relations Office.

“Our mission is to let our students to study abroad in order to receive unique knowledge and experience. That is why we appreciate those students who choose international courses that he didn`t follow or a university, which has specific teaching techniques, a far cry from methods of our university,” noted the expert.

However it is necessary not only send students, but also invite international young researchers. Usually the main problem, which complicates the mobility, is language barrier. Despite of the high position of a university, most of its programs will be taught in the official language of a country in which the university is located. Ms. Esteoule considers this approach as absolutely natural and reasonable.

On the one hand, it is very important to make programs in English, but on the other hand, a country has to save and develop its national language. That is why Université Paris Diderot offers all international students to follow French language courses free of charge.

Prof. Nikolai Mikhailov, Vice Retor for Education at ITMO U, made closing speech at the meeting. The expert talked about the drivers of higher education development and quality assesment. Mr.  Mikhailov supposes that quality assurance and accreditation are basic tools that improve higher ed. Moreover, positive competition makes educational programs, teachers and students better and better.

QuAsER session 2016 was the second meeting of international experts. Previously they discussed quality assurance and best educational practices at ITMO U`s rep office in Brussels in November 2015. According to Elena Shumeyko, manager of International Educational Programs Office, the wrap-up project meeting is scheduled for the fall 2016.

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