Global and Intecultural Dimension in Curriculum Development
The number of Bulgarian HEIs involved in projects for development of bachelor and master degrees with universities from the European Higher Education Area and the EU neighbouring regions is rising. The main instruments are the Erasmus, Erasmus Mundus and Tempus programmes.
Under the provisions of art. 19 of the Higher Education Act (HEA) Higher schools enjoy academic autonomy and implement their overall activities based on it. This autonomy which includes academic freedoms, academic self-government. Academic freedom finds expression in the freedom of teaching, freedom of research, freedom of acts of creativity, and freedom of learning, freedom of cooperation for purposes of joint teaching together with other higher schools and academic organisations, education franchise with other higher schools, as well as joint research, creative work, projects and innovative work, in collaboration with other organisations and higher schools in the country and abroad. Based on these principles higher schools has the right of independent development and implementation of curricula and research projects.
The right of contracting for educational franchise and other forms of partnership with Bulgarian and foreign institutions was given to Bulgarian higher schools with amendments of the Higher Education Act in August 2011.
In accordance with art. 4 para. 2 of the HEA Bulgarian higher schools may open new units in their structure together with international higher schools pursuant to the provisions of this Higher Education Act in accordance with:
- international agreements;
- agreements with foreign higher schools.
Paragraph 3 states that Bulgarian higher schools may open overseas units under terms and conditions laid out herein, and in compliance with the legislation of the host country. Another provision is outlined in para. 4 which says that Bulgarian legislation applies in cases of agreements for joint teaching and research, as well as joint artistic, creative and innovative work and projects, including education franchise, except where the document certifying the teaching is issued only by the overseas higher school, parntering in the agreement.
In case of a contract for joint educational activities between Bulgarian and foreign institutions are issued the so-called dual (joint) diplomas. These diplomas are awarded after the student has completed their duties set in the academic plan developed and implemented in cooperation between the two higher education institutions.
At national level within the Operational Program “Human Resources Development” of the European Social Fund in 2008-2011, the project “Raising academic qualification of teachers” was implemented. It had the following specific objectives:
- increasing competence of lecturers in key areas such as foreign language and using of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the training;
- acquiring specific knowledge and skills related to modern training programs, mechanisms for monitoring, evaluation, forecasting and planning trainings to improve the qualifications of the university teachers in order to improve the quality of educational services.
Within the project 600 university teachers from accross the country attended classes in English, French and German (Level B1 – C1 of the Common European Framework).
Partnerships and Networks
Bulgarian HEIs are actively participating in European partneships and networks. In most cases these partnerships focuss on fostering the academic capacities of the partnering organisations.
Bulgarian higher schools' right to cooperate and enter into contracts with other universities is regulated in Art. 21, para. 1, item 12 of the Higher Education Act as part of the academic autonomy and self-government. In case of a contract for joint educational activities between Bulgarian and foreign institutions the so-called dual (joint) diplomas are issued. These diplomas are awarded after the student has completed their requirements set out in the academic plan developed and implemented in cooperation between the two higher education institutions.
Joint training programs (in most cases in foreign language) are offered in many higher schools. Based on such program the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy – Sofia offers training in German for two Master courses in cooperation with the Technical University – Vienna. There has been a long-term collaboration between the Technical University – Sofia and the Technical University of Braunschweig, the University of Karlsruhe – Germany, FOM Essen – Germany, Brunel University – the UK and Dublin University College – Ireland. The Technical University – Sofia also offers graduate programs in French created jointly with French polytechnics (INP) and universities for engineers (ESI, INSA), and a consortium of engineering schools and francophone universities: UST Lille1, ESIEE Marne-la-Vallee, Paris, INSA de Rennes, INP de Grenoble - ENSIEG, l’Universite de Mediterranee, Marseille, Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal, Canada. The University of Chemical Technology and Metallurgy – Sofia also offers programs in German and French in cooperation with the Technical University – Hamburg, Germany, and the Agency of Francophone Universities AUF. One of the German- language programs is funded by the Bulgarian and German state in the face of the DAAD and Stability Pact. The International Business School - Botevgrad offers in collaboration with the City University of Seattle, the USA, and the National School of Tourism, The Netherlands (NHTV – Breda University, the Netherlands) Bachelor programs in English.
An interesting example of cross-border cooperation is the Bulgarian-Romanian Interuniversity Europe Center (BRIE), established in 2002 by the Ruse University “Angel Kanchev”, the the Academy of Economic Studies Bucharest and five German partner universities (since 2005 and one Austrian) as a project within the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe. BRIE is based in Ruse and Giurgiu on the Bulgarian-Romanian border at the Danube Bridge. The German Rectors Conference is the coordinating organization.
The main objectives of BRIE are:
- supporting European integration and regional cross-border cooperation in Europe;
- supporting closer ties between the peoples of Southeastern Europe, particularly Bulgaria and Romania;
- fostering collaboration between European universities in the European Higher Education Area.