Enhancement of Internal Quality Assurance of Education in Teaching, Learning and Assessment in HEIs of Azerbaijan and Russia
Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences has been accorded the privilege of being the grant holder of its 3rd approved Erasmus+ project by the European Commission. The project, which is known as IQAinAR (Internal Quality Assurance in Azerbaijan and Russia), seeks to support enhancement and development of the internal quality assurance of Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) of the partner countries with EU quality standards as the benchmark, as well as strengthening the HEIs' local, regional and national policies and strategies implementation.
The project was officially launched in a virtual kick-off meeting on 16 February, hosted by Wittenborg's EU Project Coordinator and Junior Researcher, Aydan Ismayilova and its CEO, Maggie Feng. The meeting was attended by Erasmus+ National Agency representatives from the Netherlands, Russia and Azerbaijan and graced by the presence of a special guest from the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA), Danielle Picot. The meeting was packed with high spirits among all attendees from 5 countries and the support provided by Erasmus+ officers to the project team was acknowledged and warmly received.
Dream team composed of top universities in Russia & Azerbaijan
As grant holder, Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences is delighted to be able to work with excellent EU partners from Germany (IUBH Internationale Hochschule), Spain (Fundacion Universitaria San Antonio) and the Netherlands (456 International B.V.). However, the real stars of the project are the 4 partners from Russia and 2 partners from Azerbaijan: Financial University Under the Government of the Russian Federation, Russian Academy of Education, Tver State University, Federal State Autonomous Educational Institution of Higher Education Belgorod National Research University, Azerbaijan State Pedagogical University and Nakhchivan State University.
In addition to the main aims, this project also seeks to support further quality culture development within HEIs of partner countries. At a later stage, the project team will develop internal quality assurance (IQA) indicators and assessment scales based on EU standards and practice. After evaluation of implementation, further training programmes will be developed with full information and training packages. During the project lifetime, the partners will not only train the staff within their own institutions, but also reach out to all parties of the partner countries interested in IQA, and give the project after-life through its open online platform with full resources and experts in implementation of the IQA system.
Student-centred approach key to any IQA in HEI
Wittenborg was also represented by its Assurance of Learning Manager, Kriszta Kaspers-Rostás, and Head of School of Business, Dr Rauf Abdul. When asked how she felt about being included in the project, Kaspers-Rostás said that she is very glad to be involved in this project as a key researcher. She agrees that a vital aspect of any IQA in HEIs is the student-centered approach. She said that as Wittenborg is targeting AACSB accreditation IQA is, of course, vitally important. “This project will surely give us a broader perspective, relevant data and an in-depth understanding of how other top-ranked institutions are operating from within. Such an opportunity does not come by often. My colleagues and I are eager to get started”, said Kaspers-Rostás.
Lecturer should be a combination of educator, practitioner and researcher
One of the fundamental understandings of this project is that a lecturer should be a combination of educator, practitioner and researcher. Dr Rauf Abdul was delighted with the inclusion of these 3 pillars in the definition of a lecturer as he himself has been consistently applying such principles in the daily practice at Wittenborg in the past years. He said, “It is rare to find a lecturer who is perfect in all 3 aspects. However, if we are aware of it as managers and as an institution as a whole, we can provide personal development opportunities to colleagues to develop themselves. It is never too late, or too perfect to learn and improve ourselves. I always believe in life-long learning”.