European Policy Statement
Das European Policy Statement der Pädagogischen Hochschule Steiermark beschreibt in aller Kürze die Kooperationsstrategie der Pädagogischen Hochschule Steiermark im Rahmen des Erasmus+ Programms 2013 – 2021. Dargelegt werden die Strategie, die Ziele und die Prioritäten in Bezug auf europäische Aktivitäten und insbesondere das Erasmus+ Programm. Ebenso erläutert wird, wie die Qualität der Maßnahmen gewährleistet wird.
The University College of Teacher Education Styria is a national and international renowned public educational institution, which strives for professionalism in its teachers who are participating in teacher training fields of study. The University College of Teacher Education Styria offers academic studies on mainly bachelor degree level but also with a few master degree programs as in the terms stated in the Bologna Declaration of 1999, enabling a Europe-wide recognition of educational, continuing and further education training according to the Bologna Declaration. At the University College of Teacher Education Styria the internationalization of training, research and transfer of knowledge takes place in an institutionalized manner.
According to the principles of the Austrian´s government education reform programm for teacher education titled “Teacher Training - NEW”, the respective law will be passed in summer 2013, enhancement of internationalization and mobility is a core aspect of the new curricula for basic pedagogical competences. Focus is set on the following international competences:
- Cultural empathy: the ability to empathize with the feelings, thoughts and behaviour of individuals with a different cultural background.
- Open-mindedness: having an open and unbiased attitude towards diverse groups and their respective cultural standards and values.
- Social initiative: this is defined as ‘the tendency to introduce oneself from the point of view of another culture’, e.g. the ability to make contact with people from other cultures.
- Flexibility: the ability to switch from one pattern of behaviour to another taking into account the requirements of the (sub-) cultural context.
- Emotional stability: the ability to deal with mental stress, since in an intercultural context one is after all confronted with different cultural and interpersonal situations, which have to be addressed.
Our institution supports the development of a variety of courses held in English as a working language thus facilitating participation of international students to become an even more attractive partner for other institutions in the field.
Educational cooperation within the framework of the European Mobility Programs and active participation in European projects and networks has been the main focus throughout the recent years. This focus is now being extended to cooperation with non-EU countries.
Cooperation with partner institutions is based on inter-institutional agreements with institutions which are holders of the Erasmus Charter for Higher Education. Decisions about signing agreements are based on a comprehensive understanding of the partner institution, the compatibility of academic profiles and a relationship of trust between the institutions in making academic decisions. Agreements are evaluated according to their activity level and the balance between academic interests and factors like subject area (education; teacher training; research and transfer of knowledge) or geographical area (see below).
Currently the University College of Teacher Education in Styria cooperates with more than forty partner institutions within Europe and holds a Memorandum of Understanding with two universities in Asia (Indonesia, Thailand). Neighbouring countries such as the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland constitute one focus for decisions on geographical areas as well as a balanced variety of countries all over Europe. Extended focus is placed on cooperation with non-EU countries based on the same quality requirements as with EU countries.
The most important target groups of the mobility activities at the University College of Teacher Education in Styria are students in the first and second academic cycle and staff members (teachers and administrative staff). Their mobility is supported by a great number of measures such as enhanced information policy, language courses or academic tutoring for studies abroad.
The University College of Teacher Education Styria is partner in a number of international cooperation projects in a pro- active way, making sure to establish from the very beginning the objectives for the participation, the role it intends to play and the expected results. Besides these key factors, decisions about strategic partnerships are also based on geographical (see question 1) and subject area priorities (education; teacher training; research and transfer of knowledge) as well as the institutional capacity to participate actively and implement project outcomes.
International cooperation projects lead to future development of the institution’s international involvement provided that project results are sustainable and outcomes are implemented. Therefore, the University College of Teacher Education Styria recognizes the importance of the results achieved by their staff members in cooperation projects.
Participation of staff members (and students) in international projects or mobility programs is an important aspect of their professional development and considered a key component in staff evaluation. Participation in international projects or mobility programs can be documented in their institutional digital online curriculum vitae (https://www.ph-online.ac.at)
Another priority is the visibility of project activities and results by making use of the internet or dissemination activities such as presentations and meetings.
On a governance level, the rector of our University College is a member of the “European Network of Teacher Education Policies (ENTEP)” in which she acts as a representative of the Austrian Minister of Education.
Strategic partnerships are also based on long term cooperation with partner institutions. Two examples of best practice are the multilateral (ten countries) European network “VOICES – The Voice of the European TeacherS “(2012-2015) and the project “YEDAC - Young Entrepreneurship – Developing in Action” (2012-2015).
The ongoing reforms of the Austrian government in teacher education and further teacher training („Teacher Training – NEW“) enhance the quality of higher education because all teachers will be trained in a four-year academic cycle (Bachelor of Education) plus 1-2 years for the Master of Education. Taking into account the special regional context of our institution in Styria the “Teacher Training-NEW" programme will be set up in close cooperation between universities and Teacher Training Colleges, a process which will certainly enhance the quality of training for all teaching professions. This close cooperation with other regional tertiary educational institutions will extend the range and diversity of courses offered for future teachers beginning with the academic year of 2014/15.
Furthermore, the possibility of an academic “Upgrading” for in-service school teachers is provided. Internal research grants are awarded for the professional development of staff members.
At the University College of Teacher Education Styria, educational cooperation within the framework of the European Mobility Programs has been the main focus throughout the recent years. This focus is now being extended in cooperating with non-EU countries. To support the European target of 20% international student mobility, measures to enhance their credit mobility (study or training) are developed such as time-slots for mobility, short term school practice abroad, reinforced information policy, language courses, academic tutoring for studies abroad, ways of additional funding for socially underprivileged students. Cross border cooperation with neighbouring countries is another focus for student and staff mobility.
The University College of Teacher Education Styria shall support Knowledge Alliances, which bring together businesses and higher education institutions especially in the field of vocational training.
The University College of Teacher Education Styria expects increasing knowledge in government and funding through participating in international cooperation projects. This is accompanied by supporting measures from the institution.
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