During the Scientific Conference with international participation dedicated to the 28th anniversary of the founding of FIUM, organized between 19-20 October 2020, Dr.Sc., univ.prof. Larisa BUGAIAN, coordinator of the MHELM project, presented the purpose and objectives of the project, as well as the project activities.
In her presentation, Mrs. Bugaian mentioned that „Recent reforms in the field of education have focused on achieving the Education 2020 Strategy and the provisions of the Education Code approved in 2014. An important element of the strategy is to increase university autonomy and the right of each university to determine its mission, institutional strategy, structure, activities, organization and approach to human and financial resources. Progress has been made in the issue of governance structures, with major changes in the system of governing bodies of universities. Each university, in addition to the higher university body, the Senate, is also governed by a Council for Institutional Strategic Development which oversees the use of public money, changes in the university estate, the initiation of new study programmes, etc. The members of the Council include representatives of the university’s staff, business environment, Ministry of Education, Culture and Research (MECR), and Ministry of Finance. The Councils also oversee the appointment of the rectors who are now elected to their positions through a process that involves the participation of all teachers and student representatives.
In order to ensure the quality of higher education, in 2014 the National Agency for Quality Assurance in Education and Research (ANACEC) was created, which during the years 2015-2020 conducted the authorization for provisional operation and accreditation of a large number of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral study programmes.
To facilitate further reform progress, it was considered necessary to modify the university staff structures. At the end of 2018, some leadership and management structures of HEIs in Moldova were modified by introducing the positions of dean, vice dean, head of department as basic professional positions, previously being additional duties to the teaching position.
Recent reforms have highlighted the need to train university leaders and managers in order to achieve specific competences. Leaders and managers must be able to drive change and cope with the major complexity that comes with increasing the dimension of university autonomy. As part of this reform, leaders and managers must ensure that their institutions, at all levels, are focused on training graduates with the knowledge and skills necessary to stimulate the economy of the Republic of Moldova and to ensure the development of society in general. This will require the HEI to become more outward-oriented and focus on the needs of the labour market.
Research conducted in 2015 showed that the development of leadership and management in Moldovan universities was ad hoc and sporadic. A survey conducted by UOG in cooperation with TUM in January 2018 among 159 leaders and managers employed in 15 public universities in Moldova showed that 55% of respondents participated in workshops or short events, rarely offered programmes structured on the needs of increasing management capabilities. Only 16% of respondents confirmed that their institution offered them access to a managerial development programme, while 73% said they would take the opportunity to complete such a programme. It is also noteworthy that 35% of respondents reported that they did not receive any training and development for their leadership role. The surveys also identified that respondents perceived the need to train change management skills, finances, risks, staff performance, project management as imperative training needs for leaders and managers of Moldovan universities.
Namely these development directions in the field of management are addressed in the Erasmus + project „Moldova Higher Education Leadership and Management / MHELM” (609656-EPP-1-2019-1-MD-EPPKA2-CBHE-SP). The project is oriented to the development and implementation of a formal leadership and management development programme, adapted to the specific needs of the HEIs and their leadership and management staff.
The general objective of the program is:: Strengthen governance, strategic planning and management in Moldovan universities, in order to support reform of the sector through increases in leadership and management capacity and capability.; iar obiectivele specifice sunt:
- Establish where best practice in EU partner universities on the design and delivery of development programmes can be applied to increase the leadership and management capacity of Moldovan universities;
- Create a higher education leadership and management development programme focused on governance, strategic planning and management, that is appropriate for delivery in Moldovan universities;
- Train the staff of Moldovan universities in the delivery of the leadership and management development programme;
- Create an infrastructure to support and sustain the leadership and management development programme;
- Pilot and then implement the new leadership and management development programme in Moldovan universities;
- Disseminate the new programme and findings, after its implementation, for higher education across Moldovan universities, the EU, and internationally.
This need is currently also addressed at the government and MECR level. According to the government decision, this training is mandatory for university leaders and managers. This decision is already included in the Government Decision no. 636 of December 2019 „On the approval of the Government Action Plan for the years 2020-2023”, Chapter VII. Education, research, culture, youth and sports, p. 7.16. Increasing the autonomy of the university, consolidating accountability and transparency in higher education institutions, p. 7.16.4. Approval and implementation of the Training Programme for the development of higher education management, according to which 100% of managers must be trained by 2023.
So far, the partner universities of the MHELM project have studied the experience of European partners, developed the structure of the training programme, and are currently working on educational content. The training programme was coordinated by MECR and has to undertake the procedure of authorization for provisional operation conducted by ANACEC.”