In 2012 ALYTAUS KOLEGIJA University of Applied Sciences (AK) was internationally accredited as an institution of higher education for the period of 6 years. The institution seeks to integrate international, intercultural and global dimensions and demonstrate the commitment of its mission through: flexible and practically focused studies, internationalized curriculum; broad and rich range and content of courses; mobility of students and academic staff pursuing for international experience and understanding; international applied research cooperation and networking; professional integration and career prospects, being competitive in global market; trust of companies offering placements and jobs, know-how establishing own businesses.
The network of AK international partners is formed basing on participation in the activities and membership of international academic associations SPACE, EURASHE, EAIE, BMDA and international cooperation networks Baltic Sea Network, OUR Network, PHEENIX Network, as well as through expanding and increasing cooperation with the reliable partners. Bilateral agreements are signed with 36 HEIs in Europe. Cooperation agreements and Memorandums of Understanding are also signed in non-EU counties i.e. Georgia, Byelorussia, Kazakhstan, the USA, etc. Geographically all the areas of participating countries are covered in respect of cross-border neighbouring aspect of cooperation. Foreign partners are chosen basing on long term experience of collaboration, e.g. reliable partnership in the OUR Network, during International Weeks of partner HEIs, international education and study fairs, while new partners are chosen according to the recommendations of the reliable network partners, under the offers of sister cities committees, etc. In associations, partners are chosen according to institutional profiles, the fields of studies, applied research and innovation and implementation of European and international cooperation projects.
AK, being a partner in delivering the European Union’s strategy to drive forward and maintain growth, has set up its internationalisation activity trends and strategy to contribute to modernisation and internationalisation of higher education in EU by increasing student and staff mobility under Erasmus and other EU and national programmes, participating in European and international cooperation projects, improving the quality of studies and student experience, developing integrated, transnational teaching activities, implementing Double Diploma study programmes. The most important elements of institutional policy are cooperation with partner HEIs and other strategic partners (i.e. enterprises, etc.) in EU and non-EU counties and promotion and support of student and staff mobility. AK is aiming at further development of non-discrimination policies, thereby widening access to mobility of under-represented groups, promoting blended mobility through strategic partnership.
With the aim of promotion of internationalisation and modernization of higher education system, estimation of prospects for establishing joint study programs in Business studies, Management Science and Engineering, Technology areas, AK has implemented the project „Demand and Prospects of Higher Education Joint Study Programmes In Alytus, Gniezno and Porto Partner Institutions“(No.VP1-2.2-ŠMM-07-K-02-015) under the European Social Fund programme “Improving Study Quality, Increase of Internationalization”. The project partners signed the Memorandum of Feasibility Study and expressed their willingness and commitment to furthering the JSP idea and remain hopeful that the JSP programme will be fruitfully implemented in the near future. Recently Double Diploma programmes are under development for implementation together with the partners of Porto Institute of Polytechnics, Institute of Accounting and Administration of Porto ISCAP) and Institute of Engineering (ISEP), Portugal. The students will be provided with opportunities to study and gain experience in several EU higher education institutions, while the business community will receive specialists of international level. Involvement of employers and labour market institutions in further design and delivery of double degrees, support of staff exchanges and practical experience in courses will help to harmonise curricula to labour market demands and stimulate employability and entrepreneurship.
Strategic documents of AK highlight promotion of active participation in European and international (EU and non-EU) cooperation projects. While implementing the European Union and the Lithuanian higher education policy to ensure their coherence and responsiveness to the needs of the knowledge society, the AK management has focused the institution staff, students and strategic partners on the development of national, European and international projects. The gained experience in project implementation have created the prerequisites for ensuring professional development of the staff; guaranteeing the achievement of quality assurance and study internationalization; aiming for the quality of students practical skills by promoting synergetic cooperation with social partners; ensuring constructive cooperation with governmental, scientific and educational institutions and economic entities internationally. Participation in European and international cooperation projects is a large inspiration to seek for sustainable and balanced outcomes for all partners. International professional experience is important in providing public consultation and teaching; short-cycle studies; workshops and training courses; qualification upgrading and retraining courses. Taking into account geographical and subject area priorities and the institutional capacity to efficiently implement the projects outcomes sufficient time and additional resources to support the projects implementation are allocated. Participation in international projects is an important aspect of professional development of staff and institutional modernization, therefore is valued and considered as part of AK policy to continue to develop international cooperation. AK is committed to implement any outcomes which result from participation in projects and employ different visibility and dissemination activities to inform the academic community internationally.
AK aims to contribute to implementation of Europe 2020 strategy for achieving smart sustainable and inclusive growth of Europe in education, research and innovation and meet the challenges of the reforms in key issues of the agenda for the modernization of Europe’s higher education systems.
Increasing attainment levels to provide the graduates and researchers Europe needs:
AK intends to continuously support development of clear progression routes from vocational into higher education through national and European qualification frameworks, to inform study choices and ensure that financial support reaches potential students though a better targeting of recourses.
Improving the quality and relevance of higher education:
AK is committed to ensuring further development of teacher and researcher professional competence and motivation. The institution is working towards encouraging a greater variety of study modes, increasing the potential of ICT use, developing active labour market policies through promotion of graduate employment and fostering career guidance.
Strengthening quality through mobility and cross-border co-operation:
Major goal of the institutions strategy is to join European Research Area and integrate the institution’s applied research activities into it. AK intends to build learning mobility more systematically into curricula and foster cross-border co-operation and exchanges. AK intends to focus on efficient recognition of credits gained abroad through ECTS, Diploma Supplement and European Qualifications Framework. AK aims at attracting best students, academics and researchers from outside EU and developing new forms of cross border cooperation. International Studies Centre was established to attract citizens of foreign countries to study in AK; encourage participation of staff and students of the institution in joint research projects with foreign partners and promote learning mobility helping individuals increase their professional, social and intercultural skills and employability. The centre collaborates with corresponding institutions about visas and permits to live, legalization and assessment of diplomas, etc.
Making the knowledge triangle work: Linking higher education, research and business excellence and regional development:
AK will continue to promote close and effective links among education, research and business through strengthening the knowledge-transfer infrastructure and fostering its capacity develop entrepreneurial, creative and innovative skills through more interactive learning environment. Constructive cooperation of knowledge triangle will promote development of integrated local and regional support towards HEI – business cooperation.
Improving governance and funding:
Encouragement of better identification of the costs and spending, targeting funding mechanisms and facilitating access to alternative sources of funding are important for AK autonomy and its human resource management modernization.