Over the last few years, the rhetoric on student support services has generated a diversity of opinions in European countries. Newly independent states, involved in the Bologna Process emerged in the frontline of these discussions immediately after their succession to EHEA. It became apparent, that the mobility – one of the key objectives of the Bologna Process and a major prerequisite for the EHEA, accompanied by student-centered learning – one of the pillars of successful reform in higher education cannot be achieved without a substantial restructuring of student services. Although broad in scope, European universities unanimously agree on the significance of the strategy and quality assurance of such services. To this end, the urgency of introduction and development of student service systems has significantly increased in EU member states over the last period.
Countries in ENP and Central Asia, among them Azerbaijan, Georgia, Israel, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan have not had a substantial experience in developing strategies and action plans for student support. The choice of the present consortium was conditioned by a steady movement of EU beneficiaries to promote intercultural understanding by means of cooperation with third countries. While presence of student services and international student support is crucial for enhancing student mobility across the boundaries, the five countries will be in the vanguard to establish a foundation for long-term academic cooperation between the higher education institutions. Equally important is the fact, that the well-functioning, sophisticated student support system is sure to create a precondition for Erasmus Mundus programs and similar cross-institutional exchanges. EU HEIs have developed policies and strategies and they can prepare a track for AZ, GE, IL, KZ and KG to follow. However, one should also consider the need for a more extensive workload on HEIs to come up with a national or even institutional framework of student support system. Yet, before the dialogues are launched at a policy level, higher education institutions in these four countries can play a leading role in making big institutional strides ahead in their systems of governance.
Ongoing reforms in higher education have necessitated the need for students to adapt to a new environment, which seems quite fragmented and therefore, less prepared to answer all questions a freshmen or incoming foreign students may face in the college. Not less importantly, joining the EHEA will bring more exchanges and student mobility particularly as a number of proposals to participate in Erasmus Mundus mobility schemes increases ( for instance, ISU is actively targeting joint Master and PhD programs and student and staff exchanges). This will ultimately require provision of student services even to a larger scale – international students need housing, advising regarding academic and emotional life, social life, etc. Thus, restructuring student services is becoming unavoidable not only in Georgia, but in its neighborhood countries as well.
“Student Support and Development Services ”General and specific objectives
The general aim of the project proposal is to establish in Higher Education Institutions from GE/KZ/KG/AZ/IL advanced and up-dated services to students and alumni, based on specially designed methodologies and tools according to the best European practices, able to meet the needs of a globalised world and to develop a quality assurance culture among students and staff.
This general objective will be addressed through the achievement of the following specific objectives.
1) developing innovative Student and Alumni Services for : Academic support and Orientation, Student life Services: Mentoring and mobility counselling support, Career planning and Alumni Relations,
2) developing infrastructure for the new student and alumni services,
3) enhancing the human resource capacity in planning, administering, and evaluating student and alumni services, (retraining of staff in EU, and participation of students representatives),
4) organising the new services in the PC institutions,
5) developing and implementing appropriate quality assurance policies and procedures according to European Quality Standards,
6) establishing follow up actions in cooperation with EU universities by signing bilateral agreements.
The achievement of these objectives will be measured through suitable indicators for which easy measurement methods and tools are identified.
– Absence of an overall sustainable student service strategy at HEIs in beneficiary countries;
– Lack of coordination among the administrative staff, students and leadership;
– Lack of student academic mentoring and support services;
– Absence of the link between students and alumni – mentoring component
– Student Employability Issues
– Need for sustainable infrastructure for student services;
– Need for competitiveness;
– Necessity to support mobility across the EU and outside the region with adequate student services
Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Israel
The reason of the selected topic lays on the need to fully participate in the EHEA, the fast change of the society according to a wide democratization of institutions, the need to look at a globalised market and improve the competitiveness of students and graduates in a globalised job market . All the above requires:
1. Adequate human resources (skills, competences, number)
2. Student and alumni support infrastructure (physical and immaterial tools).