USM rector: Changes in curriculum cannot be made overnight

The changes in curriculum cannot be made overnight as there are a number of problems that should be solved first, starting from the changes in infrastructure, new technologies, international cooperation and ending with mobility, rector of the State University of Moldova Igor Sharov (USM), ex-minister of education, sated in a workshop entitled “Good practices in higher education in the European Union. Opportunities for the young people of the Republic of Moldova”. The event was organized by the Institute for European Policies and Reforms with support from the German Foundation “Hanns Seidel”, IPN reports

Igor Sharov said he would like the curriculum changes not to be formal, but to derive from the capacity of a teacher and the resuts that this can deliver. The human potential, infrastructure problems, mobility and international cooperation problems are a priority for the State University of Moldova. The research and innovative activity is inherent in educational activity. First of all, at the university courses the students should think innovatively, either at general theoretical lectures or special and application course.

The teachers are the key factor in the development of a student’s skills. These, by their intellectual quality, serve as a model of attitude to the way in which the problems should be addressed. The quality of the teacher who stands in front of the student in upper education cycles, bachelor’s, master’s and doctor’s, is essential for building the future researcher. In this regard, the teachers with appreciable academic standing are the goal that should be pursued by the university, including the USM, which has qualified personnel that he wants to also be committed.

Infrastructure is a problem of the university. “In parts, we probably cannot afford tools and equipment as the specialty research institutions can, which are costly and necessitate skills for operating them. But we can afford library stocks, specialized scientific teaching laboratories and, surely, we can look for possibilities for the students there where they exist already,” stated Igor Sharov. He believes the USM is an example to this effect as it possesses equipment for a number of disciplines. An example is also MEDIACOR – a center that is important for the whole education system, not only for USM, with an investment of US$3 million.

As to the improvement of the capacities of young people involved in research activities, all the types of mobility are welcome, especially those that help to train qualified staff that would remain in the country to transfer their knowledge to the future generations. The exchange of experience strengthens the capacities of the young Moldovans. Problems are encountered here. Often, the young people who return from mobility programs do not find an environment for applying the accumulated knowledge in the county. Greater flexibility and adjustment to the existing realities are needed here.

The involvement of students in research activities, social responsibility, volunteering is encouraged by the USM. The innovative activity should be implemented. The students should be encouraged to do more.

In another development, Igor Sharov said the number of students going to universities in Moldova declined from 92,000 in 2015 to 52,000 in 2020, while the number of public universities remained high. That’s why a higher education reform that is inevitable is needed as the money should follow the student. The first step taken in this regard last year was the introduction of a new financing method in higher education where the money follows the student. The universities can be concentrated around the large stakeholders existing in the Republic of Moldova.

According to the USM rector, the number of students admitted to Moldovan universities last year rose compared with the previous years and this jump was due to the fact that the Baccalaureate exams were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This way, many of the lyceum graduates who wanted to continue their studies in Romania or in other EU member states could not do this without a Baccalaureate diploma. At the USM, about 500 students were expelled the past two months, primarily last-year students.” We need fewer universities that would yet meet the requirements. The change is in your hands”.

Igor Sharov also said the opportunities offered to the students are taken depending on a number of factors. Regardless of the architecture of the reform in science and of the investments that do not include state funds, without major attention we cannot move on. The history, language, heritage studies in the Republic Moldova should remain one of the priorities of the state. Everyone should admit that science is a merciless competition between different stakeholders involved in projects. In this competition, the EU makes a generous offer and this should not be underestimated.

The doubling of investments for Erasmus+ is a proof of the fact that different opportunities are opened up and everyone has the right and can take them. The USM also has particular faculties where the competition is great. The places are filled, but there are segments where a lot of work is yet to be done owing to resistance-related reasons or the lack of linguistic skills.

Igor Sharov urged everyone to use the generous offer of the European Union. He believes indifference and lack of confidence in the own abilities affect daily life the most. There is also opposition on the part of some of the teachers, but the dose of confidence and the changes that are inevitable, investments in infrastructure, rapprochement with the labor market and offering of mobility are very important.

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