HIGHER EDUCATION SUPPORT
The OSI Higher Education Support Program mobilizes national and international resources to promote the advancement of higher education within the humanities and social sciences, to support fellowships, scholarships, policy and curricula development, summer schools and related activities that empower universities, scholars and students to improve the social and intellectual environments in the country within the following programs: the OSIAF-Armenia Higher Education Support Program, Academic Fellowship Program and External Education Program.
The OSIAF-Armenia Higher Education Support Program focuses on the following priority areas:
Policy initiatives in higher education through local capacity building in policy development that will ensure establishment of a transparent and comparable three-tire degree structure, introduction of a credit accumulation and transfer based educational system compatible with ECTS, improvement of education quality, efficiency and competitiveness, as well as provision of more equitable access to higher education for all layers of the society. This is achieved through development of better targeted public policies, financing, thus creating a more flexible and competitive higher education system through adjusting it to the Bologna process.
Upgrade of higher education quality and professional growth of facultythrough development of content, including electronic content; innovative courses and curricula in the sphere of humanities and social sciences as well as development of a critical mass of creatively and critically thinking people through participating in initiatives available through OSI External Education and Academic Fellowship Programs and in Summer Schools organized locally and internationally.
Reinforcement of collaboration between Higher Educational Institutions and Civil Society through creation of an environment where civic participation can be enhanced and practiced, provision of assistance to the program activities, particularly in policy development and research The Foundation envisions to expand its programs to the regions hence ensuring usage of the developed content and methodology at regional universities.
In 2007 the Foundation initiated discussions on higher education quality among universities and all stakeholders. With OSI support, four major Armenian universities joined to conduct self-assessment on internal quality assurance system within higher educational institutions according to European standards and guidelines for internal quality assurance with the help of international experts. In 2008-2009 the universities worked in consortium on development of Framework Model for internal quality assurance which could be replicated in other Armenian higher education institutions. The members of the consortium participated in study tours to Estonian and Czech Republic higher education institutions to study internal quality assurance mechanisms of Eastern-European countries.
In 2008, the Foundation supported organization of summer school entitled “Three-Tire Education within the Framework of Bologna Process” for university faculty and administration both from Armenia and abroad. The purpose of the summer school was to raise awareness of university representatives on Bologna Process and development of European Higher Education Area. Major issues such as Three Cycles, Quality Assurance, European Credit Transfer System, Diploma Supplement, ECTS label, etc. and Bologna implementation obstacles were discussed. Presentations of the summer school are available at: www.azgk.am.
The need for comprehensive reform in higher education, which until now was left out of major reform agenda, dictates thorough assessment of the state of affairs, and particularly the level of advancement on the road of the Bologna Process. In 2007, the Foundation supported “National Centre of Strategic Research in Higher Education” NGO to evaluate present state of higher and postgraduate professional education system of Armenia and to develop recommendations for updating the existing higher education strategy and providing legislative support to the reformation of the system coherent with the main principles and objectives of Bologna Process. The Report is available here.
In cooperation with the OSI East East Program, the Foundation supported organization of an international seminar entitled “Developing ECTS as a National Credit System: Experiences and Challenges at Institutional and National Levels”. The seminar promoted introduction and adoption of academic credit system in Post-Soviet and Eastern European countries. Specialists from nine countries - Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mongolia, Romania and Russia participated in the seminar. Presentations of the seminar are available at: www.seua.am .