Modernisation of Master Curriculum in ICT for Enhancing Student Employability / MaCICT.
Belarus has high potential with its human resources professionals in ICT for attracting international business to the country. Since 2005, the share of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) services in the structure of Belarusian exports increased more than sevenfold and has been listed as second in the total exports of services, following transport.
This situation has created a gap between the challenges of the global market and skills/competences belarusian ICT graduates have at entering the profession. The main task of MACICT is to make specialists adept at growing professionally to fit fastly developing global trends in the sector and international market of technologies.
Here are some examples of common needs for belarussian universities presented at Conference “Informational technologies and systems ITS-2017”:
- The existing MSc study programmes are mono-subject and do not provide graduates with soft skills required by the labour market;
- Insufficient pedagogical skills, methods used by teachers;
- Little orientation of methods to the labour market;
- Lack of labour market participation in curriculum updates;
- Not involving students in curricular changes;
- No students’ work in groups for conducting projects;
- No special classrooms for group work and tele-networking with similar groups outside.
To solve these issues five leading belarusian universities together with three EU partners, who have succeeded in updating their master-level curricula to match the demands of the global ICT market, united in this project to achieve the overall goal by pursuing the following specific objectives:
- To modernise the existing curriculum on the MSc study programme in ICT by updating the existing professional study courses through incorporating the EU partners’ best practices
- To modernise the existing master curriculum in ICT by incorporating new interdisciplinary courses to equip students with competitive knowledge
- To accredit the programme.
- To develop and apply the guidelines to enhance the modernised MSc study programme in ICT by attracting master students and the labour market to the evaluation and further enhancement of the MSc.
- To run the modernised MSc study programme at the pilot stage.
- To promote EU and BY students' cooperation by conducting real-life problems solving projects by international student groups.
The fulfilment of these objectives will lead to the change in pedagogical attitudes, approaches and methods of education in Belarus teachers, change in students' mindsets and their adaptability to society and market, get better possibilities of employment. Some of the graduates will be able to start their own business.
The project will achieve milestones:
5 upgraded professional and 5 new soft/transferable skills courses, about 1000 study materials and training MSc students in second and third years, Quality Assurance (QA) guidelines for the modernised MSc, 3 intakes of students, working with employers (up to 50 companies in BY), informing target groups and stakeholders, 8 international student projects, informing target groups and stakeholders, measurements of pedagogical approaches and methods applied, training trainers by EU partners,
The following proves the innovative character of the action:
- The modernised curriculum is new in Belarus higher education: it combines interdisciplinary society-oriented professional courses with soft/transferable skills development courses at the master level, which is a novel practice for Belarus.
- Teachers of professional courses on the modernised programme will learn and reflect, live through and use advanced pedagogical approaches, methods, and technologies of education.
- The modernised MSc study programme in ICT will be taught in English. To teach in a foreign language is not often practiced by the ICT faculties in Belarus at present.
- Arranging and holding international students’ groups to conduct joint projects for solving international enterprises’ real-life problems is new not only for Belarus but also for EU. International student short-term mobility will be organised for this purpose.
- Fostering soft skills of communicability and extravertising through inter-personal intensive communication will be in the centre of attention of the programme to enhance ICT master graduates’ performance in society. If this has been exercised by some universities in Europe, then by a tiny small number of institutions.
- PBL (problem based learning) as a method is not used at the ICT study programmes in the belarussian partner institutions. So, using widely this (and other) method for international students’ projects will be a new practice in BY.
The project seeks to produce an impact on different target groups and stakeholders at 3 different levels.
The direct beneficiaries are master students and teaching staff on a modernised MSc study programme in ICT as well as managerial staff responsible for QA and academic development at 5 belarussian partner universities.
There will be indirect beneficiaries of the project – other teaching staff at the BY partners – who after internal dissemination and EU partners’ workshops will adapt and use effective pedagogical approaches and teaching/learning methods developed in the project, and outline possibilities for modernising their master study programme in a similar way.
There is another group of indirect beneficiaries – ICT bachelor students at the 5 belarussian partners. They will be reached directly by the programme leaders by circulating e-versions of the project’s leaflets and brochures. They will also be invited to the 3 Information Days as potential students. The direct participation of the modernised MSc programme’s students and staff in project activities, and the strategy and activities of internal dissemination will be 2 tools for reaching the direct and indirect beneficiaries at the University level.
2. BY Society level
There are 3 types of beneficiaries at this level:
- any person fitting the master level study who may become a potential student of the modernised MSc programme in ICT including ICT bachelor students at the other belarussian universities;
- potential employers on the belarussian labour market;
- wider society who will be users of services of potential more successful SME businesses established by the MSc graduates in future.
3. European and global level
At this level, the impact will be produced on international enterprises in the ICT sector in BY by providing them with better-trained MSc graduates equipped with the learning outcomes that are highly demanded by international business at present.
After the lifetime of the project, the partners will continue the work they started in it. This means that the modernised MSc programme will be run and the Belarus and EU partners will continue their cooperation within it.
The project intervenes into interdisciplinarity of curricula in ICT for fostering soft/transferable skills & competences of students demanded by the internationalised labour market. Whilst this is widely exercised in EU, it is still at the initial stage in BY. Therefore, the EU best practices in interdisciplinary approach, pedagogical practices & methods are needed by BY colleagues. The mixture of partners with various but complementary expertise in the consortium will maximise the effect on the BY higher education in ICT. At present, international ICT companies entering the BY market require skills different from what BY universities train their students in. Alone, they won’t be able to modernise since international companies demand “internationalised” skills from graduates. Similarly, EU students also need to internationalise their skills. The project responds to these demands by establishing the practice of arranging international student groups’ projects for solving real-life problems of international ICT companies jointly run by EU & BY partners to simulate the future working conditions at an international ICT company or at self-employment & working with global clientele.