About the project

Throughout the world, there is widespread consensus on the need for a radical reappraisal of traditional approaches to higher education policies in order to make them relevant to the needs of today’s society in term of increased globalisation, labour mobility and modern approaches to work and living. Qualifications frameworks are emerging in many countries with a common reference system that supports globalisation, labour mobility and lifelong learning. Thus, in line with Bergen Communiqué (2005), post-soviet countries welcomed the idea of pursuing development of their own National Qualifications Frameworks to promote mobility of individuals across borders thus promoting qualifications across different Member States to provide for alignment of qualifications. According to ETF Country Plans for Russia, Ukraine, Armenia (2007), the countries have undertaken development of the NQFs, which were approved in 2011. However, two major impediments endanger success of the NQF implementation. First, the NQFs in the three countries were developed in isolation from the direct implementers and stakeholders with the aim to speed up the process of compliance with the requirements set at EU level, which questions success of its implementation. Second, the sectorial level is complicated with exhaustive lists of qualifications, which are either not accepted by the professionals or not provided by the higher education institutions leading to non-compliance between market demands and HE provisions. Therefore, to make the NQFs legitimate at implementation level a major elaboration on the expected learning outcomes and qualifications descriptors at sectorial and academic programme levels should be undertaken.

Overall there is strong national momentum in implementation of NQFs in the three countries and problems arise when it comes to the qualifications at sectorial and programme levels. Effective implementation of the NQF and therefore SQFs is not feasible without a strong networking of all stakeholders, including civil society and social partners. Increased involvement of employers, trade unions and educational institutions is seen as a precondition for successful implementation of the framework and eventually for ownership. Whether this momentum can be sustained and strengthened depends on the involvement of stakeholders and the extent to which they see the added value of the NQFs and SQFs.

Further, although being adopted the NQFs of Russia, Ukraine and Armenia, still have a long way to go to become legitimate and serve the mission they are supposed for. Presently, the current system of qualifications requires change and development and some aspects of the qualifications system require radical change. It is important that these changes in the education and training system that lead to a qualification continue to develop values that are part of the local cultures and heritage. On a short-term basis, procedures for the implementation and maintenance of the NQF are to be put in place. This should be paralleled by a focus on the implementation of the learning outcomes approach and the adjustment of the system of assessment of competences and awarding of qualifications. On a medium-term basis, learning outcomes based sectorial-occupational standards should be further developed and implemented.

Thus, the major objective of the project is to contribute to further improvement of Russian, Ukrainian and Armenian higher education by developing sectorial qualifications frameworks for informatics and management and promoting quality, coherence and relevance of the qualification awards. It will do so through achievement of its specific objectives, which evolve around establishing a platform for stakeholder active collaboration for identifying qualification requirements for bachelor and master students in the field of informatics and management; developing sectorial qualifications frameworks (SQF) in the field of informatics and management drawing on the National Qualifications Frameworks of the target countries and European Qualifications Framework; and last, but not least, operationalizing SQFs by introducing new learning outcomes for informatics and management in the participating countries.

The target sectors that are to be developed within the frames of the project include informatics and management, the sectors of strategic importance in the three countries. Further, the needs to develop SQFs and related learning outcomes have been raised by project partners and relate to already implemented or planned devices bridging learning outcomes based qualifications to occupational standards and introducing the new national standards/learning outcomes. With the involvement of the stakeholders the SQFs will be developed in the field of informatics and management with learning outcomes descriptors based on commonly agreed upon standards applicable to other sectors and mainly occupational sectors.
Another issue that should be tackled is human resource capacity building to initiate such developments. Yet another issue is developing strong ties between the labour market sector and HEIs through an active dialogue, which is actually one of the major impediments of the successful reforms in the three higher education systems.

By joining the project the governments of the three countries demonstrate the high level of urgency of SQF development and awareness of the impact that high quality education and training has on a country in terms of sustainable economic growth and social development. They are also aware that in order to realise these opportunities, they must lead and contribute to production of highly educated and skilled people with easy access to qualifications, transfer between qualifications and progression from the lowest the highest qualification.