In January 2023, 36 Academic staff members from Kurdish universities have participated in a circular field visit in Rome and Murcia in the framework of the APPRAIS project. The Kurdish colleagues were Directors of International Relations, Quality Assurance Directors, Vice Presidents for Scientific Affairs, Deans of Colleges and Responsible for implementing the Bologna process, as well as representatives of the KRG Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.
The visit at UNIMED, focused on internationalisation and mobility, was hosted by UNINT – Università degli studi internazionali di Roma, and aimed at facilitating the smooth implementation of the Bologna process at each partner HEIs by strengthening the internationalisation process of institutions and by strengthening strategic cooperation, partnerships and networking, with particular focus to improve the recognition of credits, learning mobility and quality assurance.
The first part of the circular field visit allowed Kurdish staff to know more about UNIMED and the role that regional organisations can play in facilitating internationalisation. Then, the visit was an occasion to meet colleagues of Italian universities such as UNINT – International University of Rome, the Internatinal Telematic University UNINETTUNO and Sapienza University of Rome. The Italian colleagues shared their experince in the management of international mobilities in the Italian Higher Eduation system, especially regarding the digitalization and automation of the procedures, as well as the daily management of internationalisation activities. Moreover, they had the opportunity to discover a different way of implementing teaching and mobility, thanks to the experience of UNINETTUNO, the first Italian Telematic University. Despite online learning is not still fully recognized in Kurdistan, the experience of UNINETTUNO offered food for toughts for the future of teaching and learning in Kurdish universities.
On the first day, the field visit hosted also INDIRE, the National Institute for Documentation, Innovation and Educational Research, and the National Agency for the programme Erasmus+. The presentation focused on the opportunities for mobility between Italian and foreign universities, giving to the Kurdish universities a number of tips and suggestions on how to take the best advantages of these opportunities and strenghten the cooperation with Italian universities.
On the second day in Rome, the field visit focused on credit recognition and quality assurance, with the participation of Italian institutions such as CIMEA, the Information Centre on Academic Mobility and Equivalence and ANVUR, the Italian National Agency for the Evaluation of Universities and Research Institutes. Participants learned about recognition in the framework of international mobility, the different Qualification Framework and Accreditation international references, the procedures for recognition and the challenges of international mobility, quality assurance and external evaluation, hearing about the work of the External Agency for Evaluation of universities in Italy.
The field visit continued in Spain at the University of Murcia, one of the European APPRAIS partners, where the participants had the chance to discover more about the organisation of the International Services of the university, the mobility programmes, the recognition on credits, learning agreements, and more. The visit also hosted an intervation on behalf of the Internationalisation of the Spanish Higher Education Unit (SEPIE), from the Spanish Ministry of Education, on the opportunities of the Erasmus+ Programme for the Kurdish Higher Education Institutions. The second day of the field visit in Murcia focused on Quality Assurance at internal and external levels, knowing how the QA Unit at the University of Murcia operates and how it deals with teaching, research and internationalisation, besides the implementation of QA in the design of programs. Two working groups were also organised: one for QA Directors and Bologna Process responsibles of Kurdish universities, to work on the definition of QA for study programs, how they are structured at the university, as well as how to monitor and evaluate programs. The second working group was designed for International relations officers (Directors and key office staff) and for the Vice-presidents for students affairs and scientific affairs and deans of Kurdish universities, who worked practically on a series of problems and challenges that IRO offices usually have in the communication with students and in managing mobilities.
The circular field visit was another key result of the APPRAIS project after the field visit at the University of Pisa and the University of Evora organised in October 2022. The experience allowed Kurdish universities to further work on internationalisation, learning mobility and credits recognition and will certainly be another concrete step to establish future and solid cooperation with the EU universities.
The experience is also beneficial for Kurdish staff members to complement the skills and knowledge addressed by the APPRAIS MOOC on governance, quality assurance and Bologna process implementation.
To know more about the project, please visit www.appraisproject.eu.