INTERNATIONALIZATION STRATEGY OF THE ACADEMY OF PROFESSIONAL STUDIES SOUTH SERBIA
The role of higher education in the age of knowledge is extremely important in terms of scientific, professional and technological advancement, development of human capital and development of society as a whole. Modern higher education institutions, faced with globalization issues in the field of higher education, teaching and administrative staff mobility and encouragement of research activities on an international level, need to make additional efforts in relation to internationalization and international competitiveness.
Internationalization of higher education institutions play a vital role in the development of both the system of higher education and society in general. Moreover, an increased globalization reinforces the need for educated individuals who can be successful on an international level. This makes the efforts of the Academy of Professional studies South Serbia (hereinafter: Academy) even more important. Since the early days of the implementation of Bologna process in the Republic of Serbia, the internationalization of higher education institutions has been one of the strategic aims of each institution. Having in mind that the Academy is one of the products of the reform process of higher schools of professional studies (one of the particularly important aims of the reform process being the prompting of internationalization), the newly formed higher education institution will take on this task with additional vigor and dedication.
The concept of Academy’s internationalization is based on the following principles:
- Larger network of partners in the field of education, public services and economy across the world, which sets a basis for internationally-oriented teaching and learning as well as for coordinated research and transfer of knowledge;
- Recognizable value of students’, teachers’ and non-teaching staffs’ skills and knowledge, not only on a national but on an international level of higher education.
Internationalization is not just an aim but an asset for achieving the desired aim; it represents a work approach that, we believe, will provide us with other tools for an efficient execution of Academy’s mission as well as for the advancement of the level of quality in all segments of education and cooperation with business entities and society in general. The realization of cooperation with teaching staff and students around the world will create an opportunity to significantly increase the quality of the teaching and learning process, research and transfer of knowledge.
Academy’s aims and tasks in the internationalization process
The Academy was formed by joining of five independent, accredited, state, higher education institutions. It inherits not only their several-decades long tradition and experience in education, but all that has been previously realized in the process of internationalization of higher education institutions now part of the Academy. Academy offers accredited study programs (first and second level of studies) in four scientific fields, humanities and social sciences, technical sciences, medical sciences and art. Study programs are in line with European standards in terms of enrollment policy, length of study, study manner and diploma acquiring.
Through the process of internationalization, Academy spurs the achievement of its educational and social mission as well as an equal participation of all Academy departments in this task.
Academy will continue its long-lasting cooperation with foreign educational institutions which has been initialized by higher education institutions that have been involved in its forming and it will continuously work on its expansion. Academy inherits the experience gained through the realization of numerous, important international projects whose aim was to increase the capacity of higher education, harmonize and modernize the study programs of both levels of study (first and second level), develop modern technical and spatial study conditions, etc.
The realization of the Academy’s Internationalization Strategy aims at achieving the following:
- Continuous modernization of teaching plans and study programs
- Monitoring of modern tendencies in the European education system
- Increase in the number of students as well as attracting students from neighboring countries
- Modernization of organization of practical training programs
- Development of international and intercultural students’ and teachers’ awareness
- Inclusion of different ethnical groups in the process of higher education
- Preparation and training of young experts who will take on an active role in local and European institutions in the process of regional and European integrations
- Active role in the programs of regional socio-economic development
- Strengthening of expansion of international reputation which is connected to a high level of teaching and learning quality and execution of the teaching process.
Academy continuously monitors the achievement of the established aims and analyzes the reports on the achieved results. Based on that, it re-examines its basic tasks and aims, assessing their expediency in the process of future planning.
In the process of internationalization, Academy works on eliminating all kinds of discrimination in terms of race, gender, religion, nationality and ethnicity. Furthermore, it works on raising students’ ecological awareness using modern technology (where and when possible) which should enable environmental protection (use of digital technology instead of paper, adequate transportation means which contaminate the environment to a lesser degree, etc.). It continuously work on providing conditions (access to the facility where classes are held, ramps, toilets, elevator, etc.) which will enable students with special needs to attend classes without any hindrance.
Academy inherits a rather successful cooperation with foreign higher education institutions from Greece, Germany, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Norway, Slovakia and Great Britain. One of Academy’s aims is further expansion and enhancement of international cooperation. This strategy is based on the selection of key partners both from EU member countries and non EU countries. Particularly important are partners from Western Balkans as well as partners from the Slavic-speaking countries i.e. higher education institutions which have study programs in fields similar to those which are realized at our higher education institution.
Academy will continue with the already established cooperation with foreign higher education institutions with a simultaneous effort invested in establishing new partnerships. It will strive to enhance the teaching and learning process in line with the best existing practices in Europe through participation in international cooperation projects. Additionally, it will strive to transfer its positive experience with the aim of enhancing the institution’s rating. It is expected that cooperation programs will enhance the teaching process and enable the adoption and use of new teaching methods.
Cooperation programs should enable enhancement of student culture and multiculturalism, through students’ participation in mobility programs. This way it will presents its own and it will be familiarized with other value systems and accomplishments. All this should contribute to the enhancement of quality of higher education. International cooperation and realization of projects are expected to bring about the development of financing opportunities for cooperation and exchange, as well as EPS realization.
Teaching and non-teaching mobility
In the initial period of strategy realization (two years), the focus will be on the mobility of teaching and non-teaching staff in order to achieve Academy capacity needed for participation in the Erasmus project. The realization of these activities will increase the capacity of teaching staff through the exchange of knowledge and experience from relevant fields of interest (academic aspects), new ideas and practical experience in the field of teaching and training execution.
The training of non-teaching staff through the mobility will enhance the work of this important segment and it will provide administrative support to the internationalization process. One of Academy’s strategic aims refers to expansion of international cooperation, establishment and enhancement of teaching and non-teaching staff mobility programs with higher educational institutions (EU member countries and non EU countries). In order to achieve this aim the Academy will provide all necessary conditions for successful realization of teaching staff mobility which will, ultimately contribute to betterment of the teaching process and professional competences.
Simultaneously with the enhancement of outgoing teaching mobility, it will work on stimulating incoming and outgoing student mobility from higher education institutions from the region, as well as outgoing and incoming student mobility with other partner higher education institutions. Initially, the focus will be on establishing outgoing and incoming student mobility with none (small) language barrier for class attendance (teaching realized in Serbian language) (Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Slovenia). Academy will organize free Serbian language courses for all interested incoming students. The realization of student mobility program as well as the promotion of international experience obtained in such exchange programs, will significantly increase the institution’s competitiveness.
Team for international cooperation
In order to enable the realization of Internationalization Strategy, Academy will form a Team for international cooperation. This Team will be responsible for the effective implementation of strategic decisions and implementation of operational activities related to internationalization. Team will be comprised of qualified professionals with experience in international cooperation, preparation and project implementation, execution of mobility programs and excellent knowledge of foreign languages. Team members will perform their activities on both Academy and Department level in order to provide adequate support to all Academy employees and students for equal participation in all aspects and programs of international cooperation. They will take on an active approach to promotion of all programs and presentation of program results within the Academy and beyond. Members of the Team will continuously work on enhancing their capacity related to international cooperation in line with modern practices and needs, as well as on exchanging their experience with foreign partners. Academy’s internationalization strategy enters into force on the day of its adoption and publication on the Academy’s website.