Based on the article 55 of the Law on Higher Education (The Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia no. 76/2005 and 97/2008, 44/2010 and 93/2012, 89/2013, 99/2014, 45/2015, 68/2015 and 87/2016), article 63 of the Statute of Educons University, on 29/12/2016, the Senate has reached a unanimous decison:
THE STRATEGY OF INTERNATIONALIZATION OF EDUCONS UNIVERSITY (2016-2020)
Towards the goal of one of its key strategic goals, Educons University cooperates with higher education institutions abroad that contribute to the development of science and academic education both regionally and internationally. Since its founding in 2008, Educons University is completely dedicated to the establishment, advancement and improvement of international cooperation with its partner institutions. Bearing in mind its potential, Educons University plans in the next five years from 2016 to 2020 to continue the tradition of openness toward the world, to intensify its activities and to realize the set objectives that would result in further development in an international arena, especially in terms of exchange of students, academic and administrative staff.
Educons University comprises 11 faculties, 8 of which are integrated, and 3 of which have the status of legal persons. The integrated section of the university has 3500 students, 134 employees, a centre for scientific research, a student hall of residence with a capacity of 100, a modern biotechnological lab authorized for the analysis of food, agricultural produces and animal food (GMO analysis), as well as for the chemical testing of soil, sediments and mud.
The mission of Educons University is to provide functional synthesis of traditinal and innovative education, enabling its students to acquire applicable knowledge and degrees for a future marked by a global and multidisciplinary approach to social processes. We aim to foster in our students creativity and independence, entrepreneurial abilities, innovative thinking, a new approach to problem-solving and a research-oriented mindset.
The vision of our future is based on the fact that the societies in the region of southeastern and eastern Europe are amidst changes, and in a process of reform and transition toward a democratic civil society grounded in the rule of law and market economy dominated by private property.
2. DEVELOPMENTAL CYCLE 2008-2015
Since its founding in 2015, Educons University is consistent in developing activities within international cooperation with educational and scientific institutions, primarily with regional universities. During 2018, we have outlined a plan of international academic cooperation with the following guidelines:
- Providing conditions for student exchange,
- Academic and non-academic staff exchange,
- International scientific research projects,
- International publishing operations,
- Organization of international scientific conferences, round tables and similar events.
Recognizing the need for full implementation of the Bologna process, Educons University founded in 2008 the office for international cooperation and has set in motion bilateral and multilateral initiatives with the aim of establishing cooperation with regional higher education institutions. The result of this in 2009 came in the form of establishing an international university organization named “Alliance of Central Eastern European Universities” with Educons University in Sremska Kamenica as the seat. ACEU comprises 13 universities presently from central and eastern Europe. Apart from founding this regional organization, Educons University has signed around 20 bilateral agreements with universities across Europe’s academic area.
In terms of completing the objectives of this cycle, Educons has succeeded in realizing the set goals.
- Educons had organized for the period of 2008-2015 several conferences, round tables, congresses, etc.
- The research staff of Educons has led a large number of international scientific projects such as Tempus, IPA-CBC, etc.
- In cooperation with Hong Kong University, we introduced Blended Learning concept into our classrooms.
- A regular student and staff mobility scheme has been implemented within the programme Erasmus+.
- We have founded a joint master programme Green Economy within the ACEU.
- We have accredited nine study programmes in English at the Faculty of business Economics, Faculty of Ecologic Agriculture and Faculty of Environmental Protection.
- We have organized the first summer school in finance in cooperation with Henley Business School from Reading University, Great Britain.
- The 2016 summer school has successfully been organized in cooperation with I-SHOU, University of Taiwan.
- We have established procedures to train the staff for student, academic and non-academic staff mobility.
- We have built an international university campus, completed with accompanying facilities, which can accommodate 100 students.
3. DEVELOPMENTAL CYCLE 2016-2020
As general goals for further development, Educons University underlines:
- Reaching a leadership position in Serbia’s and regional internationalization activities.
- Spreading the concept of “student centered system“.
- Application of modern technologies and improvement of the transfer of knowledge.
- Further efforts in promoting science and education internationally.
In order for the goals to be realized, the University defines the tasks in the function of their realization.
- Further internationalization of study programmes:
- Further accreditation of study programmes in English.
- Creation of common study programmes with partner universities.
- Including an additional number of international lecturers in the modification of study programmes and their inclusion in the regular teaching processes.
- Fostering student, staff and non-staff mobility with international partners. The objective for the enrollment of international students in the period 2016-20120 will be minimum 5%, and 10% maximum, out of the total number of enrolled students.
- The building of a sport hall as part of the international university campus.
- Facilitation of the enrollment procedure for international students in cooperation with the respective authorities – study visas, insurance, etc.
- Cooperation with the relevant Serbian institutions that promote student mobility schemes.
- Setting quotas for student exchange, as well as for the mobility of academic and non-academic staff with members of ACEU.
- Creation and implementation of international marketing strategies.
- Strengthening the cooperation with the existing and prospective partners within the ERASMUS+ programme.
- Connecting with international companies:
- Inclusion of academic staff in commercial projects with international companies.
- Providing international internships for the highest achieving students.
- Further development of international scientific activities:
- Facilitated access to information about international projects for the academic staff at Educons.
- Inclusion of the University in a larger number of academic networks and organizations.
- Further promotion of the international publishing activity and organizing conferences, symposiums, round tables, congresses, etc.
- Founding the international agency for accreditation and quality audit with ACEU members.
- Connecting with new partner institutions with an additional focus on North America, the Middle East and the Asian-Pacific region.
4. EDUCONS UNIVERSITY OBJECTIVES
For the purpose of realizing its key objectives, there a several strategic programmes:
- Increasing the number of foreign exchange students on both bachelor and master programmes.
Educons has so far not had students which are foreign nationals studying in English. We intent to change this starting form 2015/16 by enrolling our first international students. With this in view, Educons has accredited English language programmes in three areas – humanities, natural sciences and technological sciences.
Currently, our study programmes in business economics, environmental protection and ecological agriculture are accredited in English at all three levels of study. To broaden its academic offer and attract more international students, Educons will strive to widen the scope of its English-language courses. On the other hand, there is a need to include elements of international participation in the existing curriculums, and to work on the professional development of lecturers and students.
Educons shows an unequivocal dedication to this objective with the building of an international university campus. The project of the student hall, besides investing in the student standard of living, is one of the prime contributors to the internationalization of Educons University. A university campus with a variety of activities and facilities provides a realistic basis for attracting international students.
Understanding the seriousness of this task, it is imperative to invest effort in the development of institutional and organizational frameworks. Further requirements include:
- Provide international students with complete study support at Educons.
- Training of administrative staff for work with international students
- Keeping record of international students
- Providing accommodation at the Educons student hall
- Providing study visas for foreign nationals
- Helping students get health insurance coverage in Serbia
- Realization of student mobility and the mobility of academic and administrative staff
The task of Educons in realizing this goal is to ensure better possibilities for student and staff exchange. Mobility schemes provide conditions for completing a study period abroad, both for incoming and outgoing students and staff. An increase in the number of these international mobility programmes is imperative. This can be achieved by aligning the study programmes of partner universities based on the ECTS system of credit accumulation and transfer. By 2020, the goal is to significantly increase the student mobility rates, and provide the necessary conditions for the advancement of international mobility schemes. Educons aims to develop and improve the process of academic exchange for the teaching staff, by taking steps to find adequate partner institutions and establish an active cooperation. A rise in mobility will add to the professional skills and quality of the teaching process and study modules.
Beginning with the strategic goal of Educons University to raise the level of internationalization, the EU programme ERASMUS + holds a significant place.
The terms for student and staff mobility are approved and in-place parts of inter-institutional contracts among Educons University and international partners, which enable both incoming and outgoing students and staff to apply for financial aid within credit-bearing Erasmus+ mobility schemes. Educons plans to take maximum advantage of the possibilities offered by the Erasmus+ schemes. Further steps include:
- To apply with the highest possible number of the signed bilateral inter-institutional agreements for student and staff exchange
- Extend the offer of study programmes in the English language, thereby increasing the number of incoming students and new potential institutional partners.
- Raise the competencies of the teaching staff in the English language proficiency.
- To value the participation of staff in exchange programmes and add this to the promotion criteria.
- Creation of new joint study programmes.
In the following period, Educons intends to research all possibilities of establishing new joint study programmes within the EU and beyond. The joint programmes are important as they contribute to the quality of study programmes, teaching methods and standards. Currently, there is one English language programme, called Green Economy, in cooperation with ACEU members.
Provided that conditions are met, Educons will participate in the creation of new joint study programmes in partnership with ACEU members and other potential partners. A role in Key Action 1 of the Erasmus+ programme is one of the crucial goals, as the EU provides a substantial support though financing the joint master degree progrmmes.
- Participation in international programmes
Key action 2 – Capacity-building projects in higher education
Over several years, Educons participates in various international programmes (Tempus, COST, IPA …) though which it strengthens cooperation with its European partners. The results achieved within Tempus have met all expectations and greatly contributed to the improvement of the professional practice and cooperation with academic partners. The established firm partnerships are continually growing.
As until now, Educons will invest in partnerships on international projects in the area of education and scientific research. A particular attention will be targeted toward the latest EU projects Horizon2020 i Erasmus+ (Key action 2), primarily with European institutions.
- To extend accredited doctoral programs in English.
As there is interest of foreign students for phd studies at Educons, the Accreditation committee of the Republic of Serbia should consider extending permits for these programmes.
- Further forms of successful cooperation with ACEU members, as well as admission of new members.
Further development of cooperation among ACEU members and Educons is planned through the exchange of information, creation of new joint programmes, continuation of joint conferences, journals, meetings and student and staff exchange, as well as joint applications for EU funded projects, and the projects of regional organizations and those funded by the governments of central-eastern European countries. Admission of new members is also a goal.
- To initiate action plans for internationalization at the annual level, in accordance with the Strategy.
In order to realize the objectives of this Strategy effectively, it is necessary to draw annual internationalization plans according to which Educons staff might synchronize its activities and programmes.
By defining the Strategy of internationalization with determination to work on a continual future progress, Educons University affirms its focus on programs of internationalization of its students and staff, to scientific cooperation and cooperation on joint study programmes. The University will be dedicated to its cooperation with both the existing and the prospective partners, so the impending activities would be in line with the strategy and the professional interests of the University and the society in the broadest sense.
Internationalization strategy comes into force on the day of its adoption and publication on the web pages of Educons University and will be distributed to all the member-faculties of the University.
President of the Senate
Dr Aleksandar Andrejević, PhD, Rector