Transfer of Good practices & Reinforcement of Internationalisation Strategies in Kurdistan

The TIGRIS Project has been awarded for EU co-funding within the framework of the Erasmus+ programme “Capacity Building in the Field of Higher Education”. Capacity building projects in the field of higher education support the modernisation, accessibility, and internationalisation of higher education in Partner Countries, in this case Kurdistan.

The TIGRIS Project, which will run for 3 years from 2017 – 2020, is coordinated by the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany. The project consortium is further composed of 4 European partners and 10 Kurdish partners, including the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MHESR), as well as 2 associate partners.

The TIGRIS Project will aim to work on three different levels in order to support the modernisation, accessibility, and internationalisation of higher education in Kurdistan. At an institutional level, the project will capitalise upon internationalisation as a process with the potential to further develop Kurdish HEIs. In this way, the project will seek to contribute to the modernisation of the partner universities involved within the Kurdistan region by strengthening management structures and services for international relations, and building advanced strategic policies related to the internationalisation of education, research, mobility and student services which will bring the Kurdish partner HEIS more in line with the EHEA.

At national level, the project supports the MHESR’s objective to modernise its Higher Education system and to align it more concretely with European models of practice and the Bologna process. This includes introducing a flexible curriculum design, shifting from a teacher-centred to a student-centred approach, and developing Bachelor and Master programmes that both prepare students for the labour market and lay the foundations for the recognition of studies conducted abroad.

At an international level, it is hoped that aliging the Kurdish Higher Education system with the EHEA, and developing the participating universities such that they are able to devise and implement internationalisation strategies and modernise the services on offer as well as their capacity and capabilites to promote international relations, will both facilitate further academic international cooperation with the Kurdistan region and similarly position Kurdish HEIs more successfully in regional and global rankings. Having attained international standards of education, or at the very least comparable to those found in Europe, it is expected that participation in the project will enable the Kurdish HEIs to increase their visibility and attractiveness within the EHEA, and to increase their academic and scientific cooperation with HEIs and research institutes both within Europe and worldwide.

Higher education plays a crucial role in economic and social development and as a catalyst for sustainable development by producing high quality human resources and disseminating the results of scientific and technical research. Through mobility, institutional cooperation is amplified since the HEIs involved in building partnerships and networks can cast a critical eye on the global challenges affecting them. International cooperation in the field of Higher Education also ensures that knowledge grows through sharing, and that capacity and excellence are built on both sides.

In light of this, the following objectives have been determined for the TIGRIS Project, which the partners will seek to address throughout the project’s lifespan and within the activities undertaken:

  • Improve the quality of Higher Education in Kurdistan;
  • Develop new and innovative education programmes;
  • Modernise the Higher Education system in Kurdistan through policy reform;
  • Create and implement national legislation which will facilitate the accreditation of joint and double degrees, the recognition of studies abroad, and the ECTS;
  • Foster cooperation across different regions of the world via joint initiatives and collaborative action;
  • Strengthen management structures and services geared towards international relations;
  • Develop advanced strategic polices regarding the internationalisation of education, collaborative research, academic mobility, and international student services within Kurdistan which will bring Kurdish HEIs closer to their European counterparts;
  • Transfer best practices and disseminate knowledge so as to understand how to cooperate within the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and European Research Area (ERA).

The project is envisaged to operate at three distinct levels. Firstly, at government and ministry level, policies will be created and developed which underpin the process of internationalising the Higher Education system and research within Kurdistan, and likewise will simultaneously facilitate the recognition of studies conducted in Europe as well as the elaboration of joint diplomas and joint research activities. Secondly, at institutional level, internal bylaws will be generated and institutional policies will be developed aimed at internationalising education, research, staff and student mobility, and student services. Thirdly, at departmental level, the project will seek to reinforce the capacity of International Relations departments, both in terms of their infrastructure and human resources.

The project's main target groups are students, researchers, academics, and administrative staff who currently participate, or wish to participate, in international collaborations. Training programmes will be organised for International Relations manager and administrative staff in Europe and Kurdistan in order to provide the opportunity to exchange knowledge and share best-practices first-hand, and to learn more about the European educational system directly and see how some European International Relations Offices and internationalisation strategies function, for example. Participation in summer schools is also foreseen for members of the participating HEIs. Additionally, the project proposes to establish a European-Kurdish network to enhance the development of joint initiatives and raise awareness on internationalisation issues through a dedicated journal.

Structured and targeted activities will be organised to modernise, or develop, individual strategies on internationalisation and academic mobility, along with coherent institutional measures capable of steering internationalisation at the participating Kurdish HEIs. The TIGRIS Project will hereby underpin institutional efforts to improve the Kurdish partners’ rankings within the Higher Education system. Moreover, the reinforced capacities and skills of Internatinal Relations personnel at the Kurdish HEIs resulting from the mentoring offered by the European partners and the knowledge gained on developing international relations policies, divisions, and services will boost their participation in international projects and strengthen the competitiveness of Kurdish HEIs.

The TIGRIS Project is anticipated to exert the following short-term and long-term academic and social impacts:

  • Increased interest and recognition of the importance of internationalisation in stutdent and staff development;
  • The creation of a framework for the recognition of studies conducted abroad;
  • The establishment of joint ventures/programmes (both national and international);
  • The creation of a group of experts tasked with disseminating knowledge about the EHEA system and transferring knowledge to other HEIs and the wider academic community;
  • The internationalisation of the HE system in Kurdistan;
  • The development of a benchmarking tool for mapping the quality of internationalisation in Kurdish HEIs;
  • Lifelong learning skills for senior managers and International Relations Officers;
  • The integration of internationalisation strategies within HEIs;
  • An increased quality of education in Kurdistan;
  • Increased cooperation between Kurdistan and the EHEA;
  • Increased awareness of the internationalisation of Kurdistan in the EHEA and other countries worldwide.

In addition to the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen as Coordinator of the Project, there are 14 other project partners (of which 4 are EU institutions, and 10 are Kurdish institutions, including the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MHESR)), and 2 associate partners. Each partner is actively involved in the implementation of all project activities, the dissemination of the project results, and adherence to the overall project objectives. Several partners will also take the lead on managing the specific work packages designed to achieve the overall project objectives.

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Past Events

TIGRIS Annual Dissemination Conference 2020: 13th October 2020, hosted as virtual event by Erbil Polytechnic University, Erbil.

Peer Review Visits of EU Partners to Kurdish Partner HEIs: due to the Covid-19 pandemic implemented as virtual meetings throughout July and August 2020.

3rd TIGRIS Project Symposium: 17th June 2020, hosted as virtual event by the University of Halabja.

Internships for selected International Relations Managers & Officers at TIGRIS EU Partner HEIs: 9th – 13th March 2020 at Masaryk University, Czech Republic, University of Groningen, the Netherlands & KU Leuven, Belgium.

Workshop for Kurdish International Relations Managers & Officers: 2nd – 6th March 2020 at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany.

Workshop for Kurdish Bologna practitioners by the TUNING ACADEMY: 2nd – 6th March 2020 at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands.

TIGRIS Annual Dissemination Conference: 6th October 2019, hosted by the Kurdistan Institution for Strategic Studies and Scientific Research at Ramada Hotel, Sulaymaniyah.

Workshop on Strategy Development, Change Management and Internationalisation of Doctoral Training & TIGRIS Consortium Meeting: 24th – 26th June 2019, at Masaryk University, Czech Republic.

2nd TIGRIS Project Symposium:
13th June 2019, at Duhok Polytechnic University.

TIGRIS Dual-Workshop on the Development of Strategies for Internationalisation, Mobility and Research Cooperation & Curricular Reforms for Internationalisation and the International Classroom: 19th – 21st February 2019, at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany.

TIGRIS Workshop on Project Writing, International Marketing & the Use of Management Information Systems for Smart Administration of Internationalisation:
4th – 6th February 2019, at Charmo University.

TIGRIS Workshop on the Bologna Process & the Implementation of ECTS in Kurdish HEIs:
11th – 13th December 2018, at University of Raparin.

TIGRIS Annual Dissemination Conference 2018:
27th September 2018, at Salahaddin University - Erbil.

TIGRIS Work Package 1 Concluding Workshop:
24th – 26th September 2018, at University of Sulaimani.

TIGRIS Project Symposium:
14th May 2018, at Sulaimani Polytechnic University.

TIGRIS Study Visits:
4th – 17th March 2018, to Masaryk University, Global Impact Institute, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen & Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

TIGRIS Kick-Off Meeting:
9th – 10th November 2017, at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany.

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