Declaration on Erasmus+ University policy of the Necmettin Erbakan University (NEU):
The Erasmus Policy Statement given below sets out Necmettin Erbakan University’s strategy as a University being awarded the Erasmus Charter for Higher Education for the Erasmus+ programme 2021-2027.
The vision of NEU, as officially stated in its strategic plan, is to achieve international impeccability in education as well in research. In order to fulfil this vision, there are some key issues regarding internationalization given as: i) increasing international components in education and research activities, ii) improving the students’ international experiences, iii) increasing international mobility of the staff, iv) increasing the number of institutional collaborations with international universities, research centres, research networks, and the industry v) ensuring the comparability of academic and administrative procedures with international practices and their sustainability. By considering these issues, the University has been continuously expanding the number of its international partners in addition to its visibility and admissibility in the international arena. With Turkey’s increasing involvement in the Erasmus Programme, NEU has had a chance to expand its international mobility opportunities. By doing so, partnerships have been instigated not only at the departmental level, mainly initiated by the efforts of individual faculty members and the request of students, but also at the institutional level through agreements instigated at the Faculty-School-Institute level comprising multiple subject matters and programmes. Increasing mobility has caused a raise in the number of our Erasmus agreements. Moreover, persistent growth in the number of students and academic staff participating in Erasmus mobility brings us closer to the goal of building a European Education Area.
Despite NEU’s main policy to develop partnerships with institutions from all over the world, its priority is universities in Europe. NEU also aims to increase its relations in the Middle East, North African and South East Asian countries.
Mobility activities are primarily thought to encourage the participation of students in both study and traineeship programmes. There is no doubt that these activities offer great opportunities for students with an international perspective. On the other hand, students without much experience abroad, get a chance to test their social skills as well their academic performance compared to other international competitors. Traineeship activities increase the employability of students and play a significant role towards the first steps for their future jobs. One of the most important support provided is an opportunity for master and doctorate students to conduct various types of research for their theses and articles. A second one is the chance to meet professionals in their research fields. All these opportunities are important for the academic staff as well for students. Hence, the mobility of academic staff is also a priority for NEU.
NEU has been implementing the student and staff mobility programme under KA 103 for many years and has been increasing its capacity each year. Hereby, it sent out students for their studies and internship, and staff for teaching and training. We received many lecturers to teach in various departments; we further received applications from international students to come to NEU to study or to do their internship. To enhance mobility at NEU we have been carrying out a consortium (KA 108) with 12 universities and 4 public institutions. Thus we are able to send out more students for internships and staff for training. We were granted a new consortium in 2019 and applied for another one this year. Last year, we also started a KA 107 project with Uzbekistan and applied for new KA 107 projects with countries in Northern Africa and Asia. NEU further carried out projects under KA 2, the programme for cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices. As several Projects have been conducted since 2015, NEU aims to continue these activities for mutual benefits.
Increasing international components in education and research activities as well the number of institutional and industrial collaborations, research centres and research networks are mentioned as key components in the process of NEU’s internationalisation and modernisation. In this context, NEU aims to expand its list of cooperation with HEI’s and local and international enterprises to achieve all objectives of the Modernization Agenda.
Staff members who have actively participated in different international projects and have established international networks, are expected to increase research oriented alliances significantly from their experiences. Developing alliances afterwards into single units that will help with the planning and coordination of all kind of cooperational projects is another step towards internationalization and modernization. The International Relations Office provides support to these units if necessary.
The participation in the programme supports NEU in selected goals and measures of its internationalization strategy; for example bundling activities with selected strategic partners such as mobility, research, short-term programmes and future joint degree programmes that we plan to but have not started yet. It also increases the exchange numbers, especially of students, enables and expands the acquisition of intercultural competence and foreign language skills; contributes to the continuous improvement of the success of studies at the NEU; promotes the academic multilingualism of teachers and students as well as in the further development of institutional framework conditions, such as bilingualism of services and adequate instruments for quality assurance. All this is done by means of central and decentralized responsibility in administration and departments.
This statement finally proofs that NEU has performed and will perform all mentioned activities above by adhering to the principles given below:
1. Non-discrimination, transparency and the inclusion of students and staff from all backgrounds: As Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi stated:
“Whoever you are, come again”. There is no doubt that NEU is acting with this thought.
Diversities that increase the value of an institution are important as they contribute to innovation, cooperation and reform. Therefore NEU not only promotes cooperation and mobility with European countries, but also with different countries from all over the world. While doing so, it acts carefully in issues defined as its principles. In fact these principles are some of the most important policies of our International Office and our institution in general. Hence, exchange students and staff are treated no less favourably than locals, and their regulations and procedures relating to education and research activities are transparent and fair.
2. The European Student Card Initiative and Promotion the Erasmus+ Mobile App:
The digitalisation agenda of the European Union led to new implementations of the Erasmus programme. With the European Student Card Initiative it is aimed to ensure a more transparent and easy process of mobility. The Erasmus+ Mobile App will provide the support required within this context because it allows incoming and outgoing students an easy access to many aspects of the exchange procedures.
The European Student Card Initiative will enable NEU to exchange student information more quickly and provide students with the necessary information related to their courses and services provided at the receiving institutions. Thereby both real and blended mobility will be facilitated, and students will be provided with a greater choice and at the same time with greater access to activities in Europe. This initiative along with the Erasmus Without Paper project will also benefit the institutions because it will reduce the administrative burden at HEIs.
3. The Promotion of environmentally friendly practices:
The negative impact of human on the natural environment is excessive. As a consequence, the earth is facing ecological change that leads to different problems in the atmosphere and for the human being itself. Environmental problems are transnational by their nature. Thus, it is essential that the new generations become aware of the problems of other countries and of the actions taken. Recognizing this, NEU feels it important to raise the awareness of locals as well exchange students and staff by emphasizing this issue at every turn. Many projects have been carried out in this context at our institution. In one of such projects, local and international students met with citizens to discuss about the importance of nature. Another example is the planting project all around the city including national and internationals. Both projects promote the interaction with adults giving them new perspectives. Though not efficient enough, consumption and food waste education are also two main issues in which NEU is developing itself. In this way we aim to provide a healthier and greener environment.
4. The Promotion of civic engagement and active citizenship amongst outgoing and incoming students before, during and after the mobility: becoming an active citizen should involve not only increasing one’s understanding of others and one’s role in the society/community, but also developing self-perception, self-reflexivity, and self-criticality. Active citizenship education should embrace the development of values, attitudes, skills, knowledge, and critical understanding. Furthermore, in addition to the model of Competences for Democratic Culture, it should promote civic engagement and active participation in community activities at all levels: local, national and international.
To summarize, active citizenship – as the ultimate outcome of active citizenship education (both formal and informal) – cannot be viewed as simply social, civic or political participation; it should incorporate an interior process of personal growth that involves the development of democratic values; an appreciation of cultural diversity, human rights and responsibilities; attitudes of mutual respect and open-mindedness; openness to dialogue and to change; empathy; co-operation skills; knowledge of related issues; and critical thinking. Therefore, active citizenship education should be conceptualized as a lifelong learning process.