According to its mission statement, the Theological Pentecostal Institute from Bucharest, Romania (hereafter ITPB) aims to achieve and sustain excellence in every area of teaching and research. To that extent, ITPB’s standing strategic plan of development takes into account the importance of collaborative links with EU and non-EU partners for the purpose of providing learning and traineeship opportunities for mobility students, mobility opportunities for staff members and opportunities for students and staff to participate in EU and international cooperation projects. Also, the possibility of developing joint post-graduate programs in areas and disciplines specific to ITPB’s educational profile is noted and welcomed. These objectives are at the heart of ITPB’s internationalization strategy.
ITPB’s internationalization strategy is developed in accordance with the Europe 2020 strategy, its Flagship Initiatives and the Integrated Guidelines in regard with the modernization and internationalization of HEIs across Europe. It emphasizes such principles as:
1. Reciprocity, in the form of initiating, cultivating and developing enduring, boundary-spanning relationships that are mutually beneficial, with academic and non-academic partners, including the possibility of forming knowledge alliances, with the purpose of helping students and staff to increase their knowledge and skills in order to meet the demands of the European job market.
2. Commitment, because addressing institutional modernization and internationalization is really an investment into the future that requires long term strategic planning and the fulfillment of all assumed obligations towards our students, our staff, and our partners.
3. Social responsibility, because knowledge, as a public good, should have as its aim the greater good of the society. As such ITPB shares in the responsibility of HEIs to promote and provide educational capacity development.
4. Quality, for in order to attain the objectives of the EU agenda for the modernization of higher education ITPB is committed to maintain and promote the highest academic standards as implemented and regulated through the Bologna process.
The key elements of ITPB’s internationalization strategy are:
1. Promotion of student mobility as an integral part of the academic programme.
2. Promotion of staff mobility as international teaching, research and administrative collaborations and exchanges.
3. Assurance of high quality support systems for both outgoing and incoming mobility staff and students.
4. Embedding of internationalization across ITPB’s corporate strategies and practices to the extent that the pursuit of, and commitment to, internationalization becomes an integral part of ITPB’s organizational culture and is reflected in the development of academic, learning, human resources and assessment strategies.
The ERASMUS programme is recognized by ITPB as essential in attaining the above aims and objectives. Therefore, in order to launch and subsequently expand ITPB’s provision of ERASMUS opportunities, ITPB seeks to establish long-term ERASMUS partnerships in all eligible participating countries under the programme and in all disciplines specific to ITPB’s educational profile. Possible partners, as identified by ITPB’s Erasmus Coordinator in collaboration with ITPB’s academic leadership, are assessed on the basis of their compatibility with ITPB’s mission statement and ensuing educational goals.
The initial focus of ITPB’s internationalization strategy is first cycle student mobility and staff mobility for teaching purposes within the ERASMUS geographical window. However, ITPB recognizes that establishing long-term mobility exchanges opens up the possibility of expanding the scope of cooperation with its partners into offering joint degrees and cooperation on larger projects. To that extent, ITPB seeks partners interested in structured long term cooperation and aiming to expand the scope of their educational activities along the lines of current EU strategies for the modernization and internationalization of higher education.
ITPB acknowledges that participation in international cooperation projects serves the purpose of global responsibility and provides the participating institutions with tools for quality assurance and better leadership. Consequently ITPB’s internationalization strategy also specifies the need to develop a limited number of strategic targets and alliances with international partners (HEIs and other organizations) in specific geographical lots, for the purpose of developing selected cooperation networks, in order to apply for cooperation projects under the ERASMUS program. Thus, although strategic targets within the internationalization agenda of ITPB focus on mobility activities for staff and students, which will be realized with the majority of partners, the specific objectives of ITPB under this rubric are to establish structured, intensive and long term cooperation with carefully selected partner institutions. Through these ITPB aims to develop additional course offerings (for example joint master degrees) and to undertake research projects addressing specific needs of its stakeholders. To this end, a center for research has been established in ITPB, (Research Centre for Faith and Society) which facilitates and coordinates planning, drafting and submitting applications for international projects in teaching and training. Also, through this center support for project management and reporting of teaching and training related projects is made available.
The objectives referring to the modernization and internationalization of ITPB are established within the framework of EU’s modernization and internationalization agenda, and are met by maintaining what has already been achieved (the implementation of the Bologna process and the ECTS system), by pursuing quality in all areas of activity and by intensifying and establishing links between education, research and stakeholders on an international level in order to increase the number of higher education graduates meeting the needs of the European job market. ITPB’s participation in the ERASMUS program is a proof of this commitment to modernization and internationalization. Concretely, regarding the priorities of the EU Modernization Agenda, the expected impact of ITPB’s participation in the ERASMUS program includes the following:
1. By engaging in mobility activities ITPB aims to provide opportunities for students and staff to gain additional skills, to encourage cross-border cooperation, to expand its educational programs to include joint postgraduate degrees and to establish strategic partnerships and knowledge alliances with selected partners. These will contribute to the education of graduates and researchers to have the necessary skills employees in Europe need.
2. ITPB has already undergone substantial curricular reforms and degree re-structuring according to the principles of the Bologna process. Also, the continuous evaluation of ITPB’s degree program ensures that the quality and relevance of this program is regularly updated and constantly improved, so that the curriculum meets the needs of the graduates within the existing labor market. In the framework of the ERASMUS Program, ITPB aims to develop the curriculum further, in terms of structure, content, and degree, in cooperation with EU and non-EU partners, as regulated by Romanian and EU higher education laws.
3. ITPB has strong ties to its stakeholders and has already established partnerships with social organizations and local governance. Under the ERASMUS program further expansion with international partners is planned. This will contribute towards strengthening the links of the knowledge triangle and will contribute to the improvement of the quality and relevance of teaching and research, to developing informal learning, to promoting excellence, and to innovation and regional development.
4. The modernization and internationalization agenda represents ITPB’s integrated strategy for reaching these targets. ITPB’s centralized International Relations office is in charge of applying effective governance and funding mechanisms for all activities. In applying for funding within the framework of the ERASMUS program the strategic goal of diversifying ITPB’s funding base is targeted.