Erasmus Policy Statement
Institution’s international (EU and non-EU) strategy
Vilniaus kolegija/University’s of Applied Sciences (VIKO) international strategy is an integral part of newly developed “Integrated development strategy of Vilniaus kolegija/University of Applied Sciences until the year 2020”. The internationalisation development process at VIKO is determined by the development of EHEA.
Over ten years of its existence VIKO has achieved significant hights in the international dimension: has set up a stable network of foreign partners and is involved in several key international organisations, uniting higher education institutions and their boards; by itself organises these organizations’ and other international conferences; has signed a cooperation agreement with the European Union and other countries’ institutions of higher education; annually manages numerous international projects, and participates in students and teachers’ exchanges. While evaluating the VIKO international activities, along with the enumerated achievements, it is necessary to mention the existing gaps that impede the further development of internationalization, that is, the lack of programmes in a foreign language, insufficient choice of courses in foreign languages; insufficiency of teachers’ readiness to work in a multicultural environment and foreign language knowledge, as well as the lack of projects and programmes diversity and the infrastructure, being a subject of improvement.
A new phase in development of VIKO is associated with the emphasis on the importance of study internationalization and on all the departments’ closer cooperation in development of this activity sphere. Internationalisation development is one of six strategic objectives of the institution. It includes development of: international studies, internationalisation of the study process, a network of partners, students and staff mobility, as well as fostering dissemination of information about VIKO international activities.
To ensure the quality of international activities it is necessary to carry out a strategic partnership assessment. In the data of 2012, the College has signed 130 LLP/Erasmus bilateral agreements with foreign institutions of higher education in 28 European countries. In the following years VIKO aims at developing a system and methods to evaluate the partnership’s priorities and direction, durability and mutual benefit.
Besides EU, there are separate bilateral agreements with Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan and other countries universities signed also. In order to successfully develop international relations and also to attract foreign countries’ students to study the whole study course, VIKO is planning to develop further partnerships with Asian and African countries’ higher education institutions, enterprises, and various intermediary organizations. This development will be carried out, first of all, after assessing these organizations level and reliability. It is also intended to enter into relations with higher education institutions and enterprises of America, Australia and Oceania countries, to develop common academic, scientific – practical and project work.
In relation to the international organizations, VIKO is a member of the following international organizations and networks (data of 2012): EURASHE, UASNET, SPACE, ENPHE, ELIA, EAC, CDIO Initiative, COMENIUS ASSOCIATION, VETNNET, ILITE. It should be noted that the College staff occupy the most important posts in the boards of these organizations. In the future, VIKO is planning to continue to develop membership in professional associations and international networks. It is desirable that VIKO would be represented in all major European higher education associations, and each faculty would be actively involved in the international professional organisations, uniting its basic study programme specialists and fostering innovation processes.
Development of students and academic staff mobility is the other key objective of the internationalisation strategy. Students’ academic and internship mobility is one of the study quality indicators. It shows the willingness of students to compete in the international education and the labour market. VIKO will continue to consistently and strategically develop its students’ mobility paying equal attention to the study and traineeships mobility; and personnel mobility especially that of academic one, defining staff, destination countries and institutions mobility priorities.
The international studies organization is also related to flexible forms of education and international partnership. Currently, the most popular form of study becomes that of a joint study. In 2011 first agreement for joint degree development was signed. It is planned that the joint studies would be available to every faculty student at Vilniaus kolegija/University of Applied Sciences.
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
Teaching and training is under the supervision of the Faculty of Pedagogics which is one of 8 faculties of Vilniaus kolegija/University of Applied Sciences. It aims at preparing teachers to work in pre-school, primary and secondary schools and sign language interpreters. The strategy of the faculty co-relates with the overall VIKO strategy putting attention to international studies development, fostering mobility, enlarging partners’ network and visibility of international activities.
Since 2012 Faculty of Pedagogics is involved in the European network of teacher training institutions Comenius Association and in ILITE Network of International Learning and Innovation in Teacher Education which allow fostering participation in different EU projects. Immediately after joining the Comenius Association the Faculty was involved in the LLP/Erasmus IP “Early years: discovering, learning and creating with all the senses” coordinated by Haute Ecole de Namur – Département Pédagogique (Belgium) and joining the ILITE network leads to participation in LLP/Erasmus IP project “Teacher Identity in Europe“ coordinated by University College Zealand (Denmark). Both projects will continue in the next years supporting directly implementation of Faculty‘s strategic goals.
As a result of a fruitful cooperation with Leuven Univesity College (Belgium) a 6 ECTS elective course „Reflective pedagogy“ was introduced in 2008. Another example of good practice leading to joint educational activities implementation is cooperation project with Zuyd University (The Netherlands). Currently a new joint 15 ECTS course “Cultural Diversity” was developed which is in the pilot stage in 2012/2013 and will be offered in both institutions as an elective course since 2013/2014.
Based on the strategy and the examples given above the Faculty is striving to continue and foster international activities in teaching and training.
Expected impact of participation in the Programme on the modernisation of the Institution
Vilniaus kolegija/University of Applied Sciences being an integral part of EHEA is facing the same advantages and challenges as the other HEI. VIKO faces demographical, political, economical and cultural changes of the country, region and Europe. Therefore the expectations related to the new agenda for the modernisation of Europe’s higher education systems is at crucial importance for VIKO.
- In relation to increasing attainment levels to provide the graduates and researches Europe needs, VIKO is striving for and supporting further policy development for smooth transition for students from vocational education to the universities of applied sciences for first cycle studies and later on for UASs’ students further studies in the second cycle, which is available only in the universities of Lithuania currently. VIKO would continue developing cross-section programmes, looking for the new ways of delivering education including online courses and programmes, and further developing policy and tools for recognition of non-formal competences.
- In relation of improving the quality and relevance of higher education VIKO will continue with the constant curricula update in relation to the market needs. Social partners have a strong role in the study process participating in the curricula development, in the committees for final project evaluation, etc. Together with partners new study programmes are being developed (e.g. Creative Enterprise). VIKO graduates tracking and Alumni section creation will give further possibilities to be in alliance with the changing needs in wider economy.
- In relation to strengthening quality through mobility and cross-border cooperation VIKO intents to continuously enlarge number of mobile students’ to both EU and non-EU countries further improving mobility integration into curricula, and recognition of credits gained abroad.
- In relation to making the knowledge triangle work: Linking higher education, research and business for excellence and regional development VIKO intends to continue and foster partnerships with social partners and businesses as well as strengthen applied research and development, what correlates with VIKO strategic activities till 2020.
- In relation to governance and funding and facing increasing lack of investment in higher education, VIKO is looking for diversify and alternative funding sources, new possibilities and initiatives related to budget issues.
Dr. Gintautas Bražiūnas, Rector