On May 16th to 20th, staff members from 10 Iraqi universities together with the representatives of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in Iraq have been hosted by the University of Bologna, Italy, for an intensive Training Week “Design internationalisation plans for universities”  to jointly work on strategic planning for internationalisation activities, , in the framework of the project INsPIRE, Innovative Governance Practices for Higher Education Institutions in Iraq.

The Training Week saw the participation of 24 Iraqi colleagues, among the staff in charge of identifying policies and priorities dealing with internationalisation at the highest university level (Rectors and Vice-Rectors), Directors of Cultural or international relation Divisions, and staff at the MOHESR advising and supporting internationalisation activities of HEIs, dealing with national internationalisation policies frameworks, agreements, scholarships, etc.

The training aimed at strengthening the capacities of Iraqi universities in terms of internationalisation, and strategic planning of their future activities linked to international cooperation agreements. The training was also an opportunity for the partners to meet again, after a very long period of distance working, and carefully plan the remaining activities of the final INSPIRE year of work before the closure of the project, as well as to think together about future sustainability actions. Partners could finally enjoy sitting in the same room, exchange and discuss, as well as share some good laughs.

The programme of the days can be consulted here.

The main key message of the Training Week was to encourage universities to exploit their own strengths, being aware of the challenges and weaknesses, with the result of being successful – strategically – through the definition of objectives which are relevant but also manageable, ambitious but also feasible. The week included a set of presentations, but also practical activities and working groups to support theoretical learning as well as learning by doing.

The Bologna meeting was also an arena for the Iraqi universities to dialogue with the European colleagues, taking inspiration from their experiences, and to dialogue with the representatives of the Iraqi Ministry, to support a change at both institutional and national level and to drive a new Agenda for Higher Education in the country.

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