"Education Improvement" project
Component 2 Support for the Development of Competitive Innovation Fund
Description of the situation
The ongoing reforms of RA higher education include structure and content changes of higher education and changes in management system. In recent years the most important challenge facing RA has been the integration of RA in the European Higher Education Area (hereinafter referred to as EHEA), towards which significant steps have been taken in 2005-2015, the culmination of which was Ministerial Summit of the European Higher Education Area and the 4th political forum of Bologna process held in Yerevan in May, 2015.
Higher education financing system is an important axis, which despite the steps taken, needs continuous improvement. Along with reforms in higher education of Armenia, RA Government has initiated to modernize and improve the financing system of higher education, introducing effective principles and mechanisms of university funding. The formation and operation of Competitive Innovation Fund (hereinafter referred to as CIF) in Armenia stands out among the steps taken in this direction, which is a political mechanism promoting innovations in higher education sector.
By providing grants to universities on competitive basis, CIF is directed to the implementation of following objectives: (a) to support both state and non-state higher educational institutions to develop and implement innovative programs aimed at improving educational programs and pedagogical methods, (b) to develop capacity to attract other sources of financing, (c) to establish links with the economy, (d) to promote international cooperation, (e) to promote scientific research, (f) to develop a strategic plan for the university involving students, (g) to develop research infrastructure of higher educational institutions ensuring the availability of modern equipment.
CIF grant programs should be directed to the solution of one or more problems of higher education mentioned below:
1. Modernity and compliance promotion
Programs aimed at modernization of higher education contribute to the involvement of employers in the educational process (by means of participating in the development of educational programs and organizing educational practice), to the harmonization of programs with labour market requirements, to the development of research centre of labour market, which suggests the formation of career centers, etc.
2. Increase in efficiency
These programs promote structural reforms in institutions, improvement of management of higher educational institutions and of internal quality assurance systems, formation of information systems of management etc.
3. Increase in accessibility
These programs give an opportunity to involve broader society in higher education, in particular involving low socio-economic status groups (by introducing long-range and supporting programs etc.).
CIF was launched within the framework of ''Education Quality and Relevance'' Second Credit Project. Particularly, CIF conception, also CIF director manual were developed and approved by RA Government on 01.12.2011. 10 pilot projects have been carried out successfully, the results of which were widely covered.
Within the framework of this sub-component the representatives of higher educational institutions will be encouraged to participate in initiatives implemented within the framework of CIF and will be trained for the development competitive bids, management of grant programs, procurement, financial management, monitoring and evaluation.
The aim of the component is:
Enhance the quality of higher education, compliance and availability, improve and modernize educational and infrastructural capacities.
1. The objectives of the component are as follows:
▪ promoting compliance and increasing modernity in higher educational institutions,
▪ promoting efficiency and equity in higher education institutions,
▪ strengthen ties in priority sectors of economy for the purpose of economic development,
▪ increase in availability of new educational programs,
▪ promoting cooperation between universities, private sector and research institutions.
The following activities were carried out within the component in 2015:
▪ CIF Coordinating Council was formed by RA MoES Minister Order,
▪ bid evaluation committee of CIF first cycle was formed through the selection and engagement of individual consultants,
▪acceptance of applications, checking of their integrity and competence, as well as the evaluation of eligible and complete bids have been carried out,
▪With the results of evaluation, CIF Coordinating Council made a decision on the projects to be financed, according to which the implementation of six selected grant programs was launched in December, 2015. These programs are:
▪ Technological innovation platform (implementing university - National Polytechnic University of Armenia),
▪ Establishment of the Center for Excellence in Dental Education in YSMU (implementing university – Yerevan State Medical University),
▪ Development of the research and production component of wineries education (implementing university – Armenian National Agrarian University),
▪ Online Master’s Program with Joint Diplomas (implementing university – Public Administration Academy of the Republic of Armenia),
▪ The modernization of the curricula of architectural and construction professions with the establishment of educational-scientific-experimental laboratory equipped with the latest technologies (implementing university – National University of Architecture and Construction of Armenia),
▪ Innovative Center for Microbial Biotechnology and Biofuel (implementing university – Yerevan State University).
In later years of Credit Project the implementation of the following main actions is planned by this component:
▪ Staff training of six grant programs launched for the development, management, monitoring and evaluation of programs, as well as for procurement procedures.
▪ Continuous control and monitoring of grant programs implemented.
▪ Organization of the second cycle of providing grants to higher educational institutions and implementation in 2017,
▪ Monitoring of CIF implementation process, including surveys on the effectiveness of CIF among the implementers of CIF grant projects and among the potential applicants,
▪ Cooperation with private sector and potential donors for attracting additional funding to ensure the continuity of CIF.