The tool used in the INsPIRE project is an adaptation of the Diagnostic Tool developed by the coordinating institution, the University of Siena, for the project UNIGOV, Improving Governance Practices and Palestinian Higher Education Institutions. The tool has been developed by the DISAG Department of the University of Siena who was the leader of the WP1.
To cope with the current situation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevented Partners from travelling to Iraq, the Diagnostic Tool was adapted into an online questionnaire using a digital tool for data collection. The reason was to facilitate the filling of information on behalf of the Iraqi partners and ease the analysis of statistical data on behalf of the UNIMED team, responsible for the Work Package 1 Update of Needs Analysis.
The INsPIRE Diagnostic Tool is designed to allow an assessment of each governance dimension – AUTONOMY, ACCOUNTABILITY, MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES and PARTICIPATION – in relation to each university’s strategic activity – TEACHING, RESEARCH and the THIRD MISSION, also known in the Iraqi context as the UNIVERSITY SOCIAL ROLE.
A coordination meeting was held on March 18th 2021 by UNIMED with the contact persons at each Iraqi university to coordinate the self-assessment and clarify each step of the process. Then, a dedicated document complemented the preparation to the self-evaluation exercise, providing Partners with guidance in the process. UNIMED arranged 10 bilateral meetings with each institution, between March 23rd and April 1st 2021, to conduct the self-assessment with ongoing real-time support to immediately clarify doubts and ensure a correct interpretation of concepts and information.
More than 80 answers were collected from Iraqi HEIs, with a response rate ranging from 6 to 14 responses per each institution to the self-evaluation questionnaire. Participants were Rectors, Vice-Rectors, Heads of departments (QA, International Relations, Finance), the project focal point, etc. The sessions reiterated the great commitment that Iraqi universities have towards the project and their willingness to contribute to results achievement. A few obstacles were encountered: sometimes translation was needed due to the difficulties with English knowledge and in some cases respondents showed reluctance in sharing perceptions about sensitive issues. It was therefore very beneficial to have arranged bilateral sessions to clarify the rationale behind the assessment, explain concepts, discuss indicators and confirm anonymity of answers. It was also a great occasion for UNIMED to get to know better the Partner universities and collect additional inputs for the WP1 Report and the analysis of the HE sector.