From 4th to 8th July delegates from 14 boards active in the seven Technical and Polytechnic Universities of Federal Iraq and of the Kurdish Autonomous Region met with UNIPI colleagues from a number of Departments and with representatives of the Quality structures of our University. The working meeting constituted a crucial phase in the “Higher Education ‘Bologna’ Strand” of the TVET2 Project (“Job creation through technical and vocational education system strengthening and labour market linkages”) led by UNESCO Baghdad, and funded by the European Commission.
In each of the seven Universities, two ‘Boards’ have been created, one to develop a new degree programme at Bachelor level, and the other to develop a ‘Quality Plan’ for the entire institution, as well as elaborating a strategy for building an internal ‘quality culture’ and ensuring the quality of the new degree programme. The overall objective is to provide a pilot example, a guide, for all Iraqi and Kurdish universities of how to develop degree programmes aligned with the key commitments of the European Higher Education Area, such as the correct use of ECTS, and using the tools developed by Tuning to create competence- and outcomes-based, student-centered degree programmes. The overarching purpose is to create a paradigm shift in the organization of higher education programmes in order to improve the competences of graduates making them more appropriate for entering the labour market and being effective in their future professions. In the next phase, the partner universities will also work on their internationalization strategies, using as a guide the materials produced by UNIPI and its partners in the DHIP Erasmus Capacity Building project.
The TVET2 project began more than a year ago; the higher education strand is guided by Prof. Ann Katherine Isaacs, as international expert. The participating universities are Al Furat Alawsat Technical University of Najaf; Duhok Polytechnic, Erbil Polytechnic; Middle Technical University (Baghdad); Northern Technical University (Mosul); Suleimania Polytechnic and Southern Technical (Basra). Four of the universities have chosen to create new degree programmes in ICT, one in Building and Construction, one in Tourism and one in Agrifood.
The first day the delegates, accompanied by Mr Timothy Mizen, the UNESCO Senior Project Officer, and the Project Officer Mr Adham Abdulwahhab, were welcomed in the Sala Cherubini by Rector Prof Paolo Maria Mancarella, Pro-rectors Profs Francesco Marcelloni and Marco Abate, and by the representatives of our international offices on Communication, Promotion and International Programmes.
Working visits were held during the week with colleagues of the Departments of Civil Engineering, Computer Sciences, Information Engineering and Veterinary Sciences. On Thursday 7 July the meeting moved to the Campus Foundation outside Lucca to share insights about programmes in Tourism Management. The ‘Quality Boards’ of the Iraqi and Kurdish universities met with the chairs and colleagues of the UNIPI ‘Quality Presidium’ and the UNIPI Quality Board (the ‘Nucleo di Valutazione’). Exchange of insights and ideas was frank and friendly, and created space for real dialogue, as well as helping the guests to perfect their new degree programmes and quality plans.
After the meetings the exchange of information has continued, contacts, and plans for further shared activities have been established. In the coming weeks the Iraqi and Kurdish institutions will be perfecting their degree programmes: implementation, it is foreseen, will begin in September or October.