#BeTheChange: Best Practices from EU Higher Education: Opportunities for Moldovan Youth
The Institute for European Policies and Reforms (IPRE), with the support of the Hanns Seidel Foundation and in partnership with Privesc.Eu and Realitatea TV, organized on Friday, May 14, 2021, the first online event within the #BeTheChange initiative, dedicated to best practices from EU higher education and opportunities for young people from the Republic of Moldova. This event was conceptualized by the participants of the #InternshipIPRE2021 and #YoungFellowsIPRE2021 programs.
The speakers of this event, moderated by Cătălina Ceban – Intern at IPRE’s Rule of Law and Justice program, spoke about the current policies and practices in the field of research and innovation in universities in the Republic of Moldova and the EU, and the main challenges for the educational system in the Republic of Moldova. The participants also discussed how is youth involved in promoting research and innovation measures, the existing needs, but also how the EU supports these policies in Moldova.
Please find bellow the main contributions of our speakers.
Igor Șarov, Rector of the Moldova State University: “We have many public universities, and a reform is inevitable. This is demonstrated by all the studies that have appeared in the last ten years in the Republic of Moldova, which show that the number of students is decreasing. On the one hand, we are talking about the need for a reform in the higher education system, and on the other hand – for a reform in terms of science-related issues, which, in my opinion, are inextricably linked. Certainly, the research and innovation activity are inherent to the educational one. Within university courses the student will think in an exploratory and innovative way, and of course the main factor in developing research skills is the professor who through his intellectual qualities serves as a model as to how to approach the problems of humanity in general. Therefore, the quality of the teacher who stands in front of the student in the higher education system is essential for the initiation of the researcher of tomorrow. In this sense, the professors of an intellectual authority, of an appreciable academic attire are the goal that a university must pursue. The second issue is related to infrastructure. For us, the intellectual and innovative quality of those engaged in the process of exploring the world around them needs to develop in specific conditions, conducive to different areas of knowledge. We are talking about qualitative infrastructure which is adequate to the level of research in the field, at least for teaching in the education system. I think we need more opportunities to implement research and innovation. Students need to be encouraged to go even further.”
Claudia Melinte, Coordinator of the National Erasmus+ Office in Moldova: “The support from the European Union in the formation of policies in the field of higher education system is very diverse. For example, the European Union’s Erasmus+ program, in its international dimension, i.e. in the application of projects on the territories of partner countries, such as the Republic of Moldova, allows both a top-down and a bottom-up change. The best known by students’ projects are the international credit mobility projects that involve the mobility of both Moldovan students and teachers in the EU universities, as well as vice versa. In this example, the change comes from below because those professors and students who left Moldovan universities are students who have studied wonderfully, who have had the highest GPA, and obtained more credits than the required number. The fact that we do not have too many mobility opportunities makes the competition for these students quite high, which saddens us, but on the other hand this offers the chance for the Republic of Moldova to at least show or send in these mobility projects the best ones. Students return to Moldova with other expectations, new visions, new experiences, and the universities in Moldova have to face this difference.”
Sabin Rufa, student at the University of Warwick, Great Britain: “I think that the most important thing in the case of the Republic of Moldova is to get rid of the elitist image, which, in my opinion, the field of research has. At the same time, we should encourage the collaboration of students with teachers and with the academic framework in general not only in writing of the bachelor’s thesis, doctoral thesis, or coursework. Moreover, we should ‘cultivate’ this process as a habit, outside these mandatory parameters. If we want an illustrious academic environment, which creates professionals, and which implies the involvement of new generations, then we must encourage this as a normality, and offer everyone the opportunity to understand what this authentic research process means in daily life. Of course, as the implementation force could be the students themselves, but the executive, legislative initiative, resources in general are in the hands of the Ministry and the educational departments. The creation of funds to sponsor the research process, the provision of academic research grants or research assistance scholarships, would be a welcome initiative, especially if these funds can be found in the state budget, at the Ministry or by identifying partners.”
Valeriu Țurcanu, student at the University of Aix-Marseille, France: “I believe that we should develop a national platform (…) that would constitute a real public service for the benefit of the academic world in the Republic of Moldova, which would allow the storage of research works, including those of students, in accordance with the principles of open access and self-archiving. In addition, I recommend establishing institutional partnerships with international or pan-European platforms, such as “The DART-Europe E-theses”, to ensure greater visibility of both the research work and the educational institution internationally, which would have a positive impact on its positioning in world rankings, such as Shanghai or ARWU. Furthermore, I would propose to improve the work of the competent structures in the field of research in public universities in the Republic of Moldova by creating a common database containing opportunities for funding and publishing research work. Finally, the last recommendation is to develop a mechanism to enable research projects to be carried out with the backing of companies and/or organizations interested in supporting research in a particular field. The development of this mechanism will allow attracting more students in research activities, to diversify research areas and to partially support research projects initiated by Moldovan students”.
Regina Mogorean, student at Babeș Bolyai University, Romania: “I believe that students need to be empowered, and empowerment in Moldova would intervene if a legislative framework that presupposes clear conditions for the development of the activity of student organizations and that ensures them a wide march of actions as well as a formal recognition from the educational institutions, will be developed. This can be done both by adopting a student status, which is done in most European countries as well as in Romania (we refer to Romania as a state with an educational system similar to that of the Republic of Moldova), or through a code of student rights and obligations which in fact in most countries is again the same as a student status. I believe that this would more clearly define the limits and possibilities available to students and would somehow promote the possibility of association for them, and the association in interest groups always creates, as output, projects and events on their part.”
Valeria Bobeică, former student at the University of Granada, Spain: “I totally agree with the idea that it is up to students to decide and create their future, but at the same time I think it would be very beneficial if through this platform (ESN) and in general if the university staff would ensure a better information of the students about the Erasmus programs, to somehow turn their fears into their… assets. For example, the fear of the language barrier should not be an impediment for students. On the contrary, they should be motivated that by going to another country they will have the opportunity and will be in a more conducive environment to improve the language and to practice it daily. Thus, I think that this would encourage more and more students from the Republic of Moldova to go to more countries, to discover this international environment and to come home with new methods of innovation.”
The event was organized within the project „BetheChange: Youth for the Europeanization process of the Republic of Moldova”, implemented by IPRE, in cooperation and with the support of the Hanns Seidel Foundation in the Republic of Moldova.