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Erasmus charter 3

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Institution's international (EU and non-EU) strategy

Following its tradition of openness, and mindful of its international reputation, geographical position and scientific and professional potentials, the University of Nis continues to invest efforts to promote the policy of establishing amicable and constructive academic relations with universities and scientific research institutions worldwide, as well as to promote international exchange of students, teaching and administrative staff. In view of these particular goals, our University first took measures to become compatible with other HEI harmonizing various aspects of its organization and function with the European higher education area (EHEA) in line with the Budapest-Vienna Declaration of March 2010.

We have implemented a three-cycle system (with these variations: 3+2+3 or 4+1+3 or 5+3); introduced diplomas stating the level of qualification, and diploma supplements defining professional competences; instituted the bachelor degree; launched the process of accreditation of the university, faculties within it, and degree programmes with the national Commission for Accreditation and Quality Assurance; launched the system of continuous self-evaluation, etc. Naturally, the process of internationalization was being developed along with all these supporting activities, and it will keep developing constantly.

The strategic goal of internationalization for the University now implies more intensive inclusion of the University into the mainstream of academic cooperation in the region, Europe and the world. In more recent times, after the inauguration of the Bologna Declaration and the activities to include Serbia in EHEA, especially through Education, Audiovisual & Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) programmes, the University of Nis participated in 86 Tempus projects and coordinated six of them. Besides great benefits springing from the realization of the goals for which the projects were granted, we actively used these established contacts and networks of HEI in the framework of the Tempus Program to initiate or participate in the Erasmus+ projects, thus widening the network of HEI we were involved with. Therefore, our partners are usually HEI we have already had contacts with either by collaborating in the realization of Tempus/Erasmus projects, or through other forms of academic activities: conferences, joint papers, visiting professorship, research projects, joint degrees, etc.

The choice of partners depends on the objective of the project so we look for a HEI in a particular field of expertise, with experience and know-how which will help us meet the required standards. Many EU HEI could meet these requirements so consortiums are never identical. New partners are invited and the network of contacts enriched. Our strategy is to have HEI from diverse parts of Europe in order to benefit from diverse experiences, so we usually have partners from the northern, central and western Europe. Our specific geographical position in the Balkans also makes it logical to collaborate with programme countries form southern and eastern Europe because their experiences, both academic and cultural, are similar to ours and we can benefit by following them on the road towards EHEA. Finally, we share our experiences with partners from non-EU Balkan neighbouring coountries in the interest of all parties.

In the context of mobility activities, most important objectives are to train students to operate equally well in other environments and cultures, by a) providing adequate study programs, b) exchange programs for students who wish to complete part of their studies abroad, c) joint programs of academic and professional studies (undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral) with universities abroad, d) greater engagement of prominent foreign professors and researchers, and e) increasing the number of foreign students at the University of Nis.

The University is particularly interested in developing and implementing programmes that will lead to the realization of joint and double/multiple diplomas. A joint programme developed on the basis of staff proposal has to be properly assessed with regard to its implementation and sustainability. During this process the following elements will be considered, such as the rationale behind the joint programme, the curriculum, the partner institution(s), student and academic standards, learning, faculty and courses, resources, financial support, administration and programme governance, degree requirements for the general announcements, the launch of the programme, academic support, potential liabilities and other risks, and measures of progress and success.

The Strategy for the internationalization of the University of Nis incorporates all these elements with the aim to determine the main guidelines for internationalization in the light of global trends, international affirmation, competition of institutions of higher education, and above all the need to pursue quality at all costs.

Institution's strategy for the organisation and implementation of international (EU and non-EU) cooperation projects within the framework of the Erasmus+ Programme

The University of Nis (UNI) is committed to enhancing its modernization and internationalization agenda, as evidenced by its Strategy for the Internationalisation and Academic Mobility Strategy.
UNI and all its constituent faculties accept responsibility to: 1. Promote and sustain relations with foreign universities; 2. Cooperate in initiating, formulation, implementation and representation of the international projects; 3. Identify, analyze and promote information concerning international cooperation; 4. Coordinate and monitor the participation in academic and other networks, consortia, associations and institutions; 5. Support the services in charge of international mobility; 6. Organize international conferences as well as visits by representatives of foreign universities; 7. The faculties of the University carry out their individual international cooperation programs and provide participation in international projects in close coordination with the University.

Erasmus+ programme provides ample opportunities for improving all aspects of international cooperation at the University. Fully aware that the quality of academic programmes and student satisfaction correlate with personal mobility experience and participation in projects, the University management actively supports all initiatives coming from individual members of academic/administrative staff or from research teams or from student organisations.

The University of Nis embraces all objectives of the EU Agenda and through international cooperation projects strives to improve governance and funding, the quality and relevance of HE, the attainment levels of its graduates, the knowledge triangle, and the overall quality through mobility and cross-border cooperation. Our University is dedicated to participating in all the three Key Actions and works towards intensifying activities and mobilizing a greater number of the staff and students to take part in related projects.

To foster mobility and cooperation as the focus of our institutional policy, all support services at the university and the departmental level are made available to such applicants in order to facilitate the process of writing a proposal and later submitting it. The staff at the International Relations Office, at the Legal Department, at the Accountant’s Office including the Rector’s secretarial office are constantly at the service of the applicants. Likewise, the vice-rectors for international cooperation, for finances, and for quality assurance are actively involved in sorting out issues within their domains. The University has also introduced the institution of the University Erasmus+ Project Officer whose duty is to help with very specific problems related to lack of experience or delicate issues. There is likewise the University Mobility Coordinator who together with IRO and faculty mobility coordinators takes care of the realization of mobilities at the University of Nis. Recently, participation in international capacity building projects has been recognized at the University of Nis as one of the promotion criteria.

The Rector on his part has initiated the creation of various bylaws and rulebooks which regulate different aspects of Erasmus+ activities within KA1 and KA2. (e.g. Rulebook about the participation of the University of Nis in Erasmus+ credit mobility, or the Contract between the university and the faculty involved in a project, etc.). These documents help all involved to avoid mistakes and pitfalls during applying or implementing the project, to be allowed adequate time for project realization, and additional resources if necessary. The use of university web services is mandatory for the purpose of dissemination and exploitation of project results, and project sustainability. In this way, both administratively and academically the participants of cooperation projects are institutionally encouraged and supported for better partaking in the modernization of higher education across Europe, but also making better connections with universities in other parts of the world.

Participating in Erasmus+ Programme has been an integral part of UNI strategy of internationalization which encourages student and staff mobility, promotes transnational teaching activities, recognizes the significance of visibility of the results of these activities, and above all provides for non-discrimination practice by ensuring that all participants be treated equally in a fair, transparent, coherent and documented way. Non-discrimination policies will be further developed through blended mobility and different kinds of supplementary support to both inbound and outbound students and staff afflicted by disabilities, part-time jobs, family responsibilities or lower socio-economic status.

It proves that Erasmus+ has really helped to enhance the mobility of staff and students at UNI, as well as the participation in European and international cooperation projects, with excellent results.

Expected impact of our participation in the Erasmus+ Programme on the modernisation of our institution

The University’s future is oriented towards developing international activities and cooperation and consequent integration into the common EHEA. The modernisation dimension of higher education should be reflected in the harmonization of study programs in Serbia with the universities in the EU, credit system (ECTS), student and staff mobility, European cooperation in quality assurance, lifelong learning, student participation in education, and generally promotion of EHEA, which should lead to internationally valid diplomas.

The University of Nis is therefore dedicated to promoting goals currently encouraged by the renewed EU Agenda for HE:

  • tackling future skills mismatches and promoting excellence in skills development to the benefit of society
  • building inclusive and connected higher education systems within EHEA
  • ensuring higher education institutions contribute to innovation
  • supporting effective and efficient higher education systems
  • addressing inequality in education systems
  • enhancing internationalisation in HE
  • developing competences which will be needed for the decades to come.

This is being realized, besides other activities, through implementation of Erasmus projects. The names of the projects the University of Nis was granted so far indicate the areas of modernization we intend to pursue further, and at the same time reflect our awareness of the priorities of the EU Agenda for higher education.

In 2006 when Serbia joined the Erasmus programme, the University was granted three projects dealing with improving education capacities in the field of electronic engineering, recognizing the increased need in EHEA for qualified work force in that area: System on chip design (JEP 41107), Development of master study programmes in telecommunications and control (JEP 41112), and Continuous education for informatics teachers in elementary and secondary schools in Serbia (JEP 41148). They complied with the goal of promoting excellence in skills development which was also the objective of the project Improvement of product development studies in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (530577-TEMPUS) granted in 2012. Likewise, in view of what competences will be needed for the decades to come the project Strengthening higher education for social policy making and social services delivery (544006-TEMPUS) was implemented starting from 2013. Further steps towards modernization via developing competences and promoting skills were made through two more projects granted in 2016: ICT Networking for Overcoming Technical and Social Barriers in Instrumental Analytical Chemistry Education (573885-EPP) and Development of Master Curricula for Natural Disasters Risk Management in Western Balkan Countries (573806-EPP).

Then, in 2008 the University of Nis was granted the project Internal quality assurance at Serbian universities (145677-TEMPUS) whose implementation provided conditions for supporting effective and efficient higher education system at all state universities in Serbia. Measures taken during the project lifetime are constantly being further developed and the modernisation of the University of Nis is now backed up by strong quality assurance procedures.

National platform for knowledge triangle in Serbia (158881-JPHES), a project granted in 2009, targeted the goal of moving towards EHEA by allowing citizens to benefit from a future European Education Area ensuring that higher education institutions combine education, research and innovation.

A Tempus project granted in 2011, Equal access for all: strengthening the social dimension for a stronger European higher education area (SM 516851) was especially important for Serbian HE because it helped towards building an inclusive and connected higher education system, which is one of the priorities of the renewed EU Agenda for higher education. So was the project Fostering university support services and procedures for full participation in the European higher education area (544246-TEMPUS) which significantly boosted the process of internationalization in the WB Countries. The last granted project so far, Enhancement of HE research potential contributing to further growth of the WB region (561586-EPP) has been actively enhancing the quality of human research potential in WBC by modernising procedures and improving skills of young researchers.

All these projects are the outcome of needs analysis, strategic partnerships, geographical and subject area priorities, informed decisions, and pro-active attitudes of the University of Nis management and its faculty staff. Our institutional capacity has been proven by the positive and sustainable impact on all entities involved, by successful implementation of the outcomes, and exploitation of results. These projects encourage peer learning and balanced development in the future. This will strengthen international, intellectual, scientific, technological and cultural relations of the University of Nis.