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Erasmus+ TIGRIS

Project Type

Capacity Building in higher education institutions


October 2016 to October 2019




Internationalization of nine Kurdish universities

Project type

capacity Buildings in the field of higher education institutions.


The experience of the European universities in the field of internationalization through the implementation of Bologna process and ECTS system.


Internationalization, Bologna process and ECTS system

This project was also Erasmus+ project, titled: Transfer Transfer of Good IR practices & Reinforcement of Internationalization Strategies in Kurdistan/ TIGRIS. It concerned with the internationalization of Kurdish Universities. The program Erasmus plus is funded by the European Union in the framework of the Capacity Building for Higher Education. The project was coordinated and directed by Georg - August Gottingen University, Gottingen-Germany.
Why this project:
This project proposal was a direct initiative of the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research of Kurdistan Region-Iraq (MHESR). The project thus focused on the requirements of universities in Kurdistan region of Iraq, especially those areas which need immense progress such as curriculum development and internationalization process. Some of the participating HEIs have previous international experience through their involvement in European projects such as Erasmus Mundus and Erasmus Plus which were mainly focusing on postgraduate study opportunities and student and staff exchange programs. However, no further work has been done since then to improve internationalization strategies. Therefore, this project is meant to provide a great opportunity for all HEIs in Kurdistan region and the MHESR to reach international standards - at least comparable to those found in European countries. It will also increase their visibility and attractiveness within the EHEA and enable them to increase their academic and scientific cooperation with EU countries HEIs and research institutes and worldwide.
The project planned to benefits from the experience of EU partner HEIs in developing internationalization strategies for their countries. They are in fact a national reference for internationalization. Kurdish HEIs will benefit undeniably from the rich experience EU role of higher education institutions (HEIs) in the process of nation-building in largely thought as indispensable. It is not a secret that the current system of higher education, which Kurdistan region (KRG) has inherited from Iraq, is dated and largely dysfunctional. The system was pyramid-style management structure concentrates decision-making authority at its summit. There was little transparency, democracy and accountability, and the role of staff and students in management were negligible. Internal audit, performance monitoring and quality assurance was virtually non-existing. In short, the inherited system has been a major barrier for progress, incapable of healthy evolution or modernization. Hence, raising standards in these institutions has long been a top priority for the people and Government of Kurdistan Region.
One of the answers for the modernization of Higher Education (HE) lays in the internationalization of its structure and its institutions. However, whereas student numbers are increasing exponentially, standards within HEIs remain below those of the neighboring countries. The key question is whether this stagnant system can be reformed, and the future of generations of students rescued. According to the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MHESR) in 2010, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG )launched the Human Capacity Development Program (HCDP) to promote student scholarships; this was a major investment in capacity building through sending young students abroad for studying masters and doctoral studies at centers of excellence abroad. Over 4000 scholarships in HCDP were awarded. Sources from the Ministry recognized that they need to develop a new form of partnership with European HEIs to continue student exchange and capacity building opportunities but this requires the recognition of studies among other things. In order to do so, not only money or government funds are the solution if there are no structural changes that support the intended reforms. Thus, after a workshop run by a delegation from Göttingen University (UGOE) on the development and potential reform in the HE sector, attended by numerous Rectors and Vice Rectors of the universities in the Autonomous Region Kurdistan, agreed to launch a proposal towards the EU in order to contribute more substantially to the reforms planned in the HE sector.
Herein, in the reviewed strategy (2014-2020) of the MHESR for the coming years one of the goals is approaching the EHEA through a better understanding of the Bologna process and convergence of the Kurdish studies. This will help to raise standards and to introduce structural reform in our learning processes and qualifications to promote accountability, comparability transparency and mobility, specifically in the following areas:
a. National Qualification Framework
b. European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)
c .Learning outcomes.
d. Three degree cycles
e. Diploma supplement
f. Quality assurance and European HE standards
In order to foster the modernization of HE through internationalization the project was operated at two distinctive levels:
At strategic level, the aspiring goals of the MHESR vision (which promotes convergence with key EU partners endow to this type of project. strategies in the field of education and training) can only be met if there are concrete national and institutional measures able to advance the international competitiveness, attractiveness and quality of Kurdish HE and put into use the full potential of HEIs in international partnerships and networks. The Projects brought together authorities in charge of HE and research, HE institutions and student associations and jointly developed and implementing strategies, policies and measures that will overcome existing obstacles and shortcomings clearly identified
2) At operational level, despite declarative commitment to internationalization on the part of MHESR and HEIs, expressed in the documents and the strategy, there is an evident lack of more binding recommendations and legal and administrative framework regulating the organization and implementation of internationalization activities (standardized elements, working protocols, administrative manuals, info guides, standardized documents for foreign exchange and degree students, etc), international offices.
My greatest appreciation is to Mr. Jakob Johannes Hedderich for his continuous unlimited support and cooperation throughout the life period of the project implementation and beyond.
For more information, please visit the project website:
With the compliments of:
Dr. Mohammed Azeez Saeed,
Salahaddin University-Erbil,
Kurdistan Region-Iraq.

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