CHISINAU – Representatives of the European Students’ Union (ESU) organised a training session on quality assurance of higher education for around seventy students in the Republic of Moldova from 27 September to 1 October. This session was organised as part of a three year project on the Development of Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Moldova (QUAEM), which is run by the University of Leipzig in Germany in collaboration with several partners, including ESU, and financed by the TEMPUS programme of the European Union.
The training was held in the resort of Vadul lui Voda, near the capital Chisinau in Moldova. Anca Margineanu, Henni Saarela, Maroš Korman and Tanel Sits, members of ESU’s Students Experts’ Pool on Quality Assurance, organised the training session, which featured the basics of student participation in quality assurance, giving the participants an insight into the Bologna process and internal and external quality assurance procedures for higher education. This training resembled similar national sessions that have been organised as part of ESU’s project called Quest for Quality for Students (QUEST).
“The training was a wonderful experience for both the trainers and participants. We were also very happy with the high level of participation in the training. However, the trainers came to realise that the scope of the session had to be extended when we noticed that essential elements to support the involvement of students in decision-making processes still need to be developed at programme and university level, namely an organisation of student representative bodies. This became a cross-cutting theme that we had to return to at many points of the training and a crucial area for further improvement,” says Maroš Korman, who attended the session.
Working on student participation in Moldova
Several training modules were introduced, to identify key stakeholders, perceptions of quality from different points of view and classify areas that students consider to be problematic and ways to address them.
“Students in Moldova are keen learners and stayed motivated throughout the training and we were impressed by their level of insight in identifying and processing problems related to the quality of higher education. We also had one interpreter at our disposal and a trainer who could speak the local languages. We grew quite confident that Moldovan students can effectively apply the skills that they learnt to increase student participation in quality assurance and beyond,” says Korman.
Meetings with Moldovan government officials
ESU facilitated the creation of a follow-up group in order to stay in touch with Moldovan students and to provide the necessary expertise on the issue, which the participants in the training voted for in the spirit of democracy and accountability.
On the last day, the trainers from ESU attended a meeting with the Vice-Minister for Education in Moldova. The Minister has now invited ESU for a follow-up meeting in Moldova in early November to discuss a proposed amendment to the country’s bill of education and how the agency for quality assurance in Moldova can be re-established and re-invented.
“We are very much looking forward to that meeting and we hope that students will stay motivated and eager to participate and shape the educational system in Moldova. The training was an important step in the effort to bring a brighter future to Moldovan students. It is too early to predict if we will succeed. Everything depends on the motivation of the students and the openness and commitment of the Ministry for Education and Moldovan universities to this goal. Representative bodies, like the national students’ union, must also take the crucial initiatives and commitments in order to shape the higher education landscape in Moldova,” says Korman.
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