European, global and intercultural dimension in curriculum development
As part of the European Higher Education Area project (EHEA) adopted by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia in the summer of 2016, the Strategy for the internationalisation of Slovenian higher education 2016–2020 (.pdf, en) included among the areas that are key to realising the vision of the development of the internationalised higher education area, the area of promoting the development of intercultural competences:
“The Slovenian higher education institutions are responsible for developing the intercultural and global competences of graduates, which will enable them to function effectively either in the local/national environment, in the global environment, or directly in an international environment. The Slovenian higher education institutions will therefore offer good implementation of the internationalised curriculum, in particular the systematic integration of the intercultural dimension in all curricula and disciplines at all degrees and disciplines. This will also be complemented by a quality offer of courses, modules and objects in a foreign language... Although mobility is the most effective way of internationalisation, account should be taken of the fact that only a small percentage of students and academic staff actually go on mobility. As a result, the expansion of the horizon of the majority of students and academic staff, their intercultural and global skills, and the development of soft competences are conditional (in particular) a high-quality, structured, integrated and systematically organised study experience, in the internationalised curriculum and the concept of internationalisation at home.”
The strategy has identified two objectives in the field of promoting the development of intercultural, social and citizenship competences of students and higher education staff:
- anchoring intercultural competences and internationalised learning outcomes into study programmes, and
- the removal of administrative barriers to the accreditation of international joint study programmes and courses leading to more diplomas.
The activities of the EHEA project, implemented by the Centre for Mobility and European Education and Training Programmes (CMEPIUS) in cooperation with the Ministry of education, aimed among others at the internationalisation of curricula or the integration of the international and intercultural dimension in the study process for all students in the domestic study environment. In this context, it is essential to properly record in terms of meaning and develop common as well as the so-called “internationalised learning outcomes”.
The CMEPIUS has trained national advisors for the internationalisation of curricula and in cooperation with them develop a programme and materials for continuous training and counselling primarily to higher education teaching staff and also to support staff in international offices. A handbook for higher education teachers and support staff entitled “Internationalisation of curriculum — Integrating the international and intercultural dimension in the study process” was released in September 2017.
Partnerships and networks
The international strategic partnerships emerging from the activities of the Erasmus+ programme under the Key Action 2 are one of the major tools of international networking of Slovenian higher education institutions. They are projects aimed at developing initiatives that address one or more fields in education, training and youth, as well as promote innovation, exchange of professional experience and knowledge among different types of organisations active in these fields. Activities may include: developing, testing and implementing innovative approaches and practices for study programmes, students, staff, and organisations; fostering the recognition and certification of skills and competences; training, teaching and learning activities such as intensive study programmes, combined mobility of students, joint training of staff, as well as teaching and training.
Slovenian higher education institutions are involved in over 125 projects in higher education, either as coordinators or as partners in the project. The Centre of the Republic of Slovenia for Mobility and European Programmes of Education and Training (CMEPIUS) implements the two decentralised key actions. Slovenian higher education institutions participate in the activities of the Key action 2 under the Erasmus+ programme that are coordinated by the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA), namely:
- knowledge alliances,
- sector skills alliances, and
- capacity building of institutions in the field of higher education and youth (Capacity Building projects).
Following the conclusions of the Gothenburg Social summit of 2017, the European Commission included in the Erasmus+ programme a new initiative — European universities aimed at networks of universities across the EU, namely to enable students to obtain a blended study in several EU countries and thereby contributing to the international competitiveness of European universities. Among the first 17 excellent “European Universities” under the centralised European call for proposals in 2019, the University of Ljubljana subscribed with partner higher education institutions from Sweden, United Kingdom, Spain and France as the coordinator of the European Universities Transforming to an Open, Inclusive Academy for 2050 project and acquired nearly €5 million to set up the European university project. The participation in international networks of higher education institutions is also facilitated by the Central European Exchange Programme for University Studies (CEEPUS), also implemented by the CMEPIUS. It is a regional programme that became operational in March 1995. The aim of the programme is to establish and promote the mobility of students and teachers among the participating countries and to make use of friendly links and opportunities for joint study programmes. The CEEPUS programme brings together over 700 higher education institutions from the following countries: Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Montenegro, Croatia, Kosovo, Hungary, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Serbia. The CEEPUS operates on the basis of networks set up by the university, the faculty or their field specific departments.