On December 4th, the APPRAIS partners gathered in Erbil to attend the final conference of the project, hosted by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research Kurdistan region of Iraq and UNIMED, project coordinator. More than 100 attendees took part in the event, from both partner and non-partner institutions among university Presidents, Vice-Presidents for Scientific Affairs and Students Affairs, Deans and Vice-Deans, Directors of Quality Assurance and of International Relations Offices as well as students representatives.
“The end of the APPRAIS project marks a new beginning for the collaboration with Kurdish universities”. This has been the key message shared by Dr. Mohammed Hussein Ahmed, Director General, Head of the Apparatus of Supervision and Quality Assurance, Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in KRG during his welcoming speech. A message, on which the UNIMED Director, Dr. Marcello Scalisi, agreed by reiterating the UNIMED commitment as a network of universities to continue to support Kurdish universities beyond the project in their internationalisation process and in getting the international standards in the good governance reform phase. Finally, a message that was also shared by the Italian Consul, Dr. Michele Camerota, from the Italian consulate in Erbil, who strongly stressed the value of this 3-years project for the Kurdish institutions and not only, also for the EU partners, highlighting the willingness of the Italian consulate to continue the cooperation with the Kurdish higher education system.
This closing event represented the ultimate key milestone of the APPRAIS project, where the partners had the possibility to present all the results achieved and share the good achievements with the other Kurdish universities and institutions in the region.
The first part of the conference focused on the presentation of all the activities implemented and the results obtained, from both the perspective of the Kurdish and the European institutions. APPRAIS started with a thorough needs assessment, to generate a firm basis upon which the Capacity Building was built. Kurdish universities had the advantage of learning from the mistakes and accomplishments of the European universities, and reflecting on the adaptation of the Bologna Process in their own context. Then, the Capacity Building marathon started: many different locations (Oslo, Sulaimania, Pisa & Evora, Rome & Murcia) , a long journey, many trainees involved, all reaching the final line but at their own pace. The APPRAIS MOOC, collecting all training resources developed within the project, served as a bridge between the CB and the local training, where the pool of learners was increased. The APPRAIS software on Quality Assurance management in research, third mission and students services was another of the key results that the collaboration and hard work of the APPRAIS consortium brought for the benefits of the 8 KRG institutions with the ultimate goal to strengthen their capacity in ensuring a high quality standards in research, students engagement and outreach. Last but not least, Kurdish universities worked on their own Roadmap for Bologna Process implementation, as a guideline for the revision of their Institutional Strategic Plans and delivered a Training of Trainees towards their colleagues among academic and administrative staff on the several topics on which they have been at their turn trained by the European colleagues.
The Institutional Strategic Plans were presented. Among the long-term key objectives of Kurdish universities: pushing visibility at international level, being able to play a role in the international scenario; moving from quality assurance toward accreditation, as the backbone of the higher education system; implementing a participatory approach where students, teachers, stakeholders, leaders share decision-making; fostering employability and the connection with the labor market; incorporating SDGs in the long-term plans; strengthening pedagogic competences to adopt a learning-centered approach; focusing on research as a means to generate an effective impact on the society.
The second part of the conference focused on the presentation and sharing of all the opportunities for the non-partner universities to exploit the APPRAIS results. Partners introduced to the audience the possibilities offered by the MOOC, as a training tool open to all interested learners, to develop skills to advance in the implementation of good governance practices, Quality Assurance and Bologna process adoption. Then, the project Coordinator UNIMED together with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research KRG, presented the possibilities of the enlargement of the Training of Trainees, where project partners declared to be willing to deliver training to the staff at non-partner universities, sharing their experience and knowledge with other Kurdish universities during dedicated sessions of in-presence training.
Furthermore, in view of future adoption of the APPRAIS software for better QA management in research, third mission and students services by all the Kurdish universities, the Awrosoft company was invited to intervene during the afternoon and to present the great achievement together with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research KRG. Both of them highlighted the relevance of this tool for the Kurdish higher education system in improving the quality assurance management in these above-mentioned dimensions and reiterated their commitment in enlarging its use to other institutions after the current piloting phase by the 8 partners.The APPRAIS final event saw also the involvement of a number of students, from Salahaddin University – Erbil, who were asked to share their perspective on the pros and cons of the Bologna Process. Students were very active in the discussion, and asked several questions to the speakers.They stressed that the system improved notably with the implementation of the Bologna Process, but students still cover a marginal role. They underlined the importance of being heard, by the university administration as well as from the teachers, to become active part of the reform process and the learning experience. Finally, the APPRAIS Sustainability Plan has been presented by the UNIMED Project Coordinator, Ms. Silvia Marchionne, and each Partner signed the document with the aim to officially commit to adopt it and implement it in the following years.
The event has been a memorable moment to celebrate successes and achievements of each talented person who shared this 3-years adventure and put the basis of future cooperation!
To know more, follow us on Instagram.