Tigris Project 3rd (Final) Dissemination Conference

posted Oct 16, 2020, 1:43 PM by Pshtiwan Faraj Mohammed   [ updated Oct 16, 2020, 1:55 PM ]

The 3rd (Final) concluding conference was arranged by EPU and it took place on Tuesday, October 13th, 2020. Eight partner Universities of Kurdistan and all the European Partner Universities in TIGRIS project and more than 184 participants participated in the virtual concluding conference. Prof. Salah Saeed President of Charmo University as well as the head of Charmo IRO Dr. Pshtiwan Faraj, The dean of Public Administration and Natural Resource Mananement Dr. Lajan Ameen and Mr. Shakhawan Hares Participated in this virtual conference. 

Contents and Agenda of the final conference

During the conference, we 

  • looked back on three years of TIGRIS,
  • presented key outcomes of the project in its third year, and
  • had a joint discussion (round table) on the regional (KRI) and global outlook of internationalisation.

Following-up our efforts in supporting the reforms for the implementation of the Bologna Process in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq,  Prof. Robert Wagenaar from the University of Groningen participated as a key speaker. Previously, Prof. Wagenaar conducted the TUNING training workshop in March 2020.

During his talk, Prof. Wagenaar gave his expert assessment of the ongoing modernisation of the Higher Education sector in the Kurdistan Region, outlining requirements and potential future steps, as well as present on latest developments in regard to the Bologna Process.

Considering that Bologna-related reforms will be a key focus of Kurdish partners in the coming years, this would be of great interest to all. Therefore, Prof. Wagenaar’s inputs also includes some time for Q&A sessions where kurdish partner universities actively succeeded the current and future themes. 

Dr. Pshtiwan Faraj from Charmo University and head of IRO also commented on the future of internationalization in the light of current Covid-19 pandemic.

Panelists held round table discussion

 Dr. Ranj Abdullah head of EPU arranged the meeting and Q and A sessions with both university presidents and focal points of Tigris project at each partner university.

For further details of this virtual conference please scroll down:

3 rd TIGRIS annual CONFERENCE OF THE EARSMUS+ TIGRIS Project Concluding the TIGRIS Project

 – Past Achievements and Future Outlook for Higher Education in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Modernisation of the Higher Education Sector of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq in an International Context: Requirements and Next Steps

Prof. dr. Robert Wagenaar Director International Tuning Academy Member NL Bologna Expert Team University of Groningen, The Netherlands


1. Why do we want to reform our HE programmes ? What is needed? 

2. Role of the Bologna Process / European Higher Education Area 

3. Ambitions versus reality: the International Strategy of the Kurdistan Regional Government 

4. Bologna Process / EHEA next steps: Rome Communiqué and beyond

 5. Implications for the HE sector of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

1. Why do we want to reform our HE programmes ? What is needed? 

Offer perspective and prosperity to ones population 

This requires a sound and competitive economy and a sustainble society

 Conditions an educational system and degree programmes which are aligned to the needs of society in the 21st century

 Degree programmes need to be relevant; graduates knowledgeable and skilled + be able to take responsibility

Key Bologna Process Commitments Aim: Reinforcing and supporting quality and cooperation inside the EHEA: 

• a three-cycle system compatible with the overarching framework of qualifications of the EHEA and first and second cycle degrees scaled by ECTS 

• compliance with the Lisbon Recognition Convention 

• quality assurance in compliance with the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area

Regional Government has set very high ambitions

 These ambitions require a systematic / step-by-step approach which involves full commitment of all stakeholders 

It asks for consistent (financial) support, attention, evidencing and reviewing over a longer time

 The three action points identified in the Bologna Process are crucial, because these intend to build trust and confidence in a system … but take a lot of time to realize

Strategic objective1: 

Providing the preconditions for improving the internationalisation of higher education and science in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq Warning: Internationalisation might be a means, it is not a solution. 

Reforms are realized in a national context (in alignment with international standards) 

The Bologna Process have been / is used as a leverage for national reforms by most of the EHEA countries. 

Crucial for reform, however is not external pressure but real ownership of the reform / modernization process by all stakeholders involved.

Strategic objective 2: 

Internationalisation of teaching and administrative staff by increasing their capacity to engage in internationalisation activities and international mobility Warning: 

Internationalisation of staff and students requires a (sophisticated) infrastructure of procedures, processes, instruments, documentation, forms, etc. 

International mobility will help developing the infrastructure and instruments when implemented gradually by offering a learning process over time.

Strategic objective 3:

 Increasing the number of students involved in international student mobility Warning: large scale mobility depends on whether one has its own house in order. 

Reciprocity plays an important role in this respect. Mobility requires that one is an attractive partner. 

This means offering courses in a widely spoken language; transparency regarding procedures; course catalogue according to ECTS standards; recognition mechanisms (e.g. learning agreements, transcript of records, DS)

Strategic objective 4:

 Internationalisation of study programmes by internationalisation of curriculum and the development of joint international programmes

 Warning: International / joint programmes are the most ambitious and complicated level of internationalization. 

Developing and agreeing international joint programmes require agreement on the level of the aims and objectives, learning outcomes, student work load and learning, teaching and assessment approaches.

Strategic objective 5: 

Facilitating the internationalisation of research Warning: Research has its own dynamics.

 It requires priority setting. Focus on national strengths for international cooperation before widening.

 Building international research networks is time consuming and costly. 

Transfer of knowledge and technology requires trust and confidence and development of personal relationships between researchers.

Strategic objective 6: 

Strengthening society through internationalisation of higher education in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq Warning:

 Internationalisation will contribute to building international relationships and development of a better understanding of the other, but this requires time and effort. 

Student and staff mobility is relevant here, but it should be assured that after return they contribute to society building.

Strategic objective 7: 

Implementation of the Bologna Process and ECTS at Kurdish HEIs supported by international experts Warning: Implementation of educational reforms are a condition for international cooperation. 

This modernization is a world wide process and not limited to Bologna or ECTS.

 The Bologna Process and ECTS (as other related initiatives) can serve as tools for making the paradigm change a reality. Anyway, this reality conditions further internationalisation. See objective 3.

4. Bologna Process / EHEA next steps: 

Rome Communiqué Rome Ministerial Communiqué 19 Nov. 2020 and beyond (work in progress) (1)

The structure: 


Our vision

 Fundamental Values 

Building the Future: An inclusive EHEA An innovative EHEA An interconnected EHEA


The EHEA in a global setting

The Annexes: 

1. Statement of Academic Freedom 

2. Principles and Guidelines to Strengthen the Social Dimension of Higher Education in the EHEA 

3. Recommendations for national/governmental support/action for the enhancement of Higher Education Learning and Teaching in the EHEA

The vision An EHEA

 - in which students, staff and students can move freely

 - fully respects the fundamental values of higher education and democracy and the rule of law 

- which is inclusive, innovative and interconnected 

- prepares learners to become active, critical and responsible citizens

 - meets the United Nations’ Sustainability development Goals (SDGs) by 2030

 - which assures a robust culture of academic and scientific integrity

Building the Future: An innovative EHEA Ministers support Higher Education institutions to:

  Search for solutions to the challenges our societies face. (Special emphasis on social, human and creative sciences and arts) 

 Up-dating of knowledge, skills and competences 

 Flexible and open learning paths / Student-centred learning / smaller (and flexible) units of learning

  Development of digital skills and competences for all (sharing materials)

Annex 3: Recommendations for national/governmental support/action for the enhancement of Higher Education Learning and Teaching in the EHEA Three recommendations: 

Making student-centred learning a reality: innovative education; prepare students for the future society; student-centred – active learning; flexible learning paths; open education strategies 

Fostering future teaching : make teaching and research mutually supportive; support professional development and create attractive career pathways

Strengthening higher education institutional and systems’ capacity to support learning and teaching: develop strong and effective strategies for learning and teaching in a digital world; foster national and European cooperation

5. Implications for the HE sector of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (1) 

Bologna / EHEA Process is agenda setting (but not revolutionary) 

Rome Communiqué offers further guidance / incentives for reform

 Necessary reforms are of global significance (not limited to Bologna Process members) 

Intend to boost economic and societal welfare (national interest) in an international setting

 Requires aligned action of governments and HE institutions (staff and students)

Policy recommendations: 

Focus primary on the Kurdistan Region HE needs and requirements to contribute to the welfare of society 

Take international initiatives such as the Bologna Process as a reference for reform

 Accommodate legislation to facilitate reforms

 Offer financial incentives to stimulate reform

Recommendation to Higher Education institutions: 

Change the paradigm of teaching and learning

 Promote staff development 

Make use of the many examples of good practice available such as the ECTS Users’ Guide, the materials and tools developed by the Tuning and CALOHEE and other initiatives. 

Introduce Work-based learning in all HE institutions to strengthen the relation with the potential labour market: see WEXHE project tools

Main recommendations for all:

 Create an infrastructure on regional level and the level of individual HE institutions to allow for reform: 

 = Align the Kurdistan Regional HE system to the Bologna / Global cycle system (Bachelor-Master) 

= (invest in efficiency and quality not length of studies) 

= Create a reliable Quality Assurance System (follow ESG recommendations) o Implement the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS): 

=  Define programme and course unit learning outcomes (make use of CALOHEE Project outcomes) 

=Allocate credits to course units / calculate fair workload o Move from staff / expert driven education to student-centred education and active learning

=  Accommodate learning, teaching and assessment to this (new) paradigm





Edited  and revised by

Dr. Pshtiwan Faraj

Director of International Relations Office

Charmo University