Bridges between Different Traditions and Cultures
Soren Liborius, Head, Department of Press and Information, at European Union Delegation to Russia gave a special interview to HSE portal.
— The long-term goal of the EU funded mobility programmes in higher education is to contribute to creating the European Higher Education Area by 2020 within the framework of the Bologna process. The European Higher Education Area is a geographic area that comprises 47 countries, including 27 EU countries and Russia, within which degrees delivered by universities in one country and the corresponding qualifications are comparable, compatible and recognisable in other countries belonging to the same area.
This is a long-term objective. Achieving it will take time. Within the EU there are 4,000 Universities and 27 different education traditions and systems. The challenge consists in that the EHEA does not aim at unifying the different education traditions. It aims at creating bridges between different traditions and systems. Through these bridges students and academic staff can move from home universities to host one and both universities can cooperate together.
A typical bridge that enables the mobility of students is the European Credit Transfer System, a mechanism through which one can understand how much a student needs to study and practice to learn a specific subject, be it in France or in Germany. A typical bridge between universities is the comparability of programmes/curricula from the point of view of what students will know and be able to do after completing a programme, no matter whether the student will be studying in France or in Germany.
EU funded programmes have greatly helped building these bridges by promoting university cooperation and academic mobility so far through Tempus and Erasmus Mundus. As of 2014 both programmes will become part of Erasmus For All programme.
— How could you evaluate the achievements of the programme?
— The European Commission carries out regularly evaluation studies of its programmes. This happens during the implementation phase, at the end of each phase and/or before commencing a new programme. According to the participants to the EU funded programmes the programmes have achieved positive results. A good evidence are the figures of students and academic staff that benefitted from mobility programmes, quality of the learning experience gained by students and academic staff on both side and the quality of new curricula developed together by partner universities. To prove this it is sufficient to mention two indicators. Nowadays in almost each university, international cooperation is not anymore an activity carried out by a division of the university; each faculty, department and institute develops programmes in English, invites foreign professors and attracts foreign students while offering to its own students opportunities of study periods abroad. The second evidence is the growing number of jointly developed programmes leading to a degree (bachelor, masters or PhD) between EU and Russian universities.
In 2009 the EU Delegation undertook a study on joint degree and identified 240 such programme; in 2013 it seems that we have reached almost 300 joint degrees. Of courses these figures need to be carefully reviewed. That is what we are currently doing at the EU Delegation.
In 2013 we initiated a study to complete the analysis of data collected in 2009 and to update the data with newly developed joint degrees. In 2014 we shall be able to produce a catalogue of joint programme thus offering students consolidated information about those programmes that offer them two diplomas, one delivered by a Russian HEI and a second one delivered by a European University.
— What are the lessons learned? What should be improved for better results?
— In each evaluation carried out by the European Commission there is always a section on lesson learnt. Regarding Tempus and Erasmus Mundus, the lessons learnt are taken on board in Erasmus for All. Under the new programme it has been decided to extend to countries not belonging to the EU the model of mobility developed under Erasmus. Thanks to this, students can spend study period abroad starting form 3 months instead of six, thus increasing the mobility opportunities to many more students than in the past. Under the new programme, the focus will be not only on modernising curricula like it is nowadays under Tempus, but also on developing joint degree programmes, thus ensuring more long-term impact of the cooperation between partner universities.
— What's your experience in cooperating with the HSE on the programme?
— Currently HSE takes part in two EU funded Erasmus Mundus Partnership – Triple and Aurora – and is member of the consortium running the Master’s programme “International Masters in Economy, State and Society (IMESS)”, previously funded by the EU within the framework of Erasmus Mundus.
The data about students and academic mobility show that HSE students and academic staff take active part in the EU funded mobility programmes.Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for HSE news service
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The Higher School of Economics has signed a cooperation agreement on exchange programmes for students and lecturers at the Faculty of Computer Science and the Faculty of Mathematics with the University of Groningen.
The Department of History at the Higher School of Economics – St. Petersburg and the University of Jyväskylä (Finland) will begin student and teacher international mobility cooperation for the 2015/2016 academic year.
Elena Omelchenko, Director of the Centre for Youth Studies and Head of the Department of Sociology at the HSE Campus in St. Petersburg, speaks about plans for postgraduate training at the Centre and international cooperation avenues.
Last year was designated the year of Russia in Italy and Italy in Russia. Nina Belyaeva, Head of the HSE Department of Public Policy, told us about the HSE’s cooperation with one of its key Italian partners – the University of Bologna, as well as about new academic mobility opportunities for HSE undergraduate and postgraduate students.
On September 21st the Russian Government Grant Council announced the names of the winners of the second open competition for Russian Government grants for state support of scientific research conducted under the supervision of leading scientists in Russian universities. Among the 39 winners were two applications from the Higher School of Economics.
On March 9th –12th a group of European analysts carried out some research on education and education quality improvement systems in the context of the Bologna process at the HSE. The preliminary results of the research were unveiled at two presentations.