Nouvèl FOKAL

mercredi 1 juin 2011

Universities: Systemic Coordination to Facilitate Student Mobility

The State University of Haiti (UEH) and  Institut Infotronique d'Haiti (ESIH)  with financial support from the European Union organized a seminar on fund raising for higher education institutions.  FOKAL's coordinator of University Partnerships  participated in this seminar,  under the umbrella of FOKAL's reconstruction activities.   This workshop concentrated on the issue of the lack of mobility of  students between institutions in Haiti, and the inability of Haitian universities to receive exchange students.

EUCANET ( EU-Caribbean network finance by EuropAid, Edulink program) organized this workshop on how to obtain funding for higher education institutions in Haiti with the leadership of 4 trainers from 2 Spanish universities, Alicante and Leon.  The trainers presented the EDULINK program of the European Union which focuses on higher education. 

Ms. Hudicourt-Barnes joined the small group on student mobility.  The opening discussions brought up the issue of the movement of Haitian students towards overseas universities, but the rarity of student movement to Haiti from overseas.  One of the trainers, an expert in student mobility in his home university, made the point that transparency is the major factor permitting mobility.  For the last 15 years, all the major universities in Europe have agreed to a format to describe each university, its programs, its courses.  Based on each university's "catalogue" of courses, foreign students can find out about course offerings and obtain equivalency in their home universities.  Based on the transparency and availability of information, 500,000 students travel throughout Europe each year for student exchanges.  Their courses abroad are validated by their home universities.

The EUCANET workshop group on mobility,  whose members are mostly from EUH, has agreed to continue working together for a "capacity building" project so that Haitian Universities can learn to prepare the necessary tools for student mobility.  Although UEH staff receive many requests from foreign students, they are not yet able to offer a catalogue or on-line course descriptions that could be used for information and equivalency.  Furthermore, UEH staff  members are in the process of finding mechanisms to validate courses taken abroad by the many undergraduate Haitian students who were hosted by other countries after the earthquake of January 12th, 2010.  For example, 50 students went to attend courses at various campuses of the University of the West Indies.  UEH is considering how their time abroad can be counted towards their Haitian diploma.

If this project is successful, it would not only open Haiti's higher education institution to the world, but it would also generally improve transparency of Haitian higher education institutions.