International Relations Office (IRO) strategy According to
Gori Teaching University Strategy Planning

1. Introduction

The international dimension is today an integral part of the university in international academic life and an inevitable part of the university’s development, ensuring the quality and sustainability of research and higher education.
The university seeks the sustainability and regeneration of the academic community in Georgia, ensuring the competitiveness of Georgian higher education in the Georgia, European area and in and in the rest of the world. To ensure this, among other things, exchanges of students, guest lecturers will be arranged with foreign universities; a ‘visiting fellows’ system will be introduced; the integration of lecturers and students international professional networks will be facilitated; the development of new modules aimed at foreign students and delivered wholly or partly in English will be supported.
Gori Teaching University’s internationalisation strategy includes the main targets and directions for the activities of GTU in the area of internationalisation and to set specific development markers. As well as university's development programmes, the current document also follow the guidelines set out in the Georgian higher education internationalisation strategy.

2. Improving internationalisation in research and MA studies

2.1. International cooperation in research
The world of science is by nature international, making the exchange and transition of knowledge a primary condition for its development. Very often it is the initiative of individual researchers that drives this process. In order to support this kind of cooperation institutionally, the university needs a complete overview of foreign relations in the field of research, both at an institutional and individual level. This will create added value and synergy while planning and coordinating the internationalisation process of the university.
The strategic task of the university in making this scientific cooperation more efficient is to offer a favourable environment in the form of effective support structures, including facilitating an effective exchange of scientific information, creating favourable conditions for publishing, and generating suitable conditions for organising international research events.
The principal targets to improve the efficiency of international scientific collaboration are as follows:
developing a system for the continual updating of information about international scientific collaboration at the university and making this accessible to students and staff;
ensuring that the university is fulfilling the research and development programmes of the European Union in each area of its core activities;
developing at least one internationally recognised research and development centre in every specialist area (i.e. a centre where the traineeship of foreign lecturers and researchers and doctoral students takes place, and which participates in international collaborative projects);
facilitating international collaboration between researchers by:
- enhancing the efficiency of the collection, analysis and forwarding of information concerning international cooperation and financing to staff;
- developing the administrative capacity of the university to initiate and manage international research and development contracts;
- signing international cooperation contracts with research organisations and networks;
enhancing the international visibility of the university by means of organising international scientific events, and developing corresponding competence at the university;
creating the necessary conditions at the university publishing house for the publication of an internationally recognised series of publications.
There are two main development directions in this field. Firstly, it is necessary to increase the mobility of MA students and introduce the practice of completing a part of their studies at a university abroad. Secondly, active measures should be taken to enhance the attractiveness of the university's studies at international level and to open MA study programmes to international MA students.
2.2. The principal targets for internationalising the MA studies are as follows:
expanding international collaboration for the supervision of MA theses;
pursuing the goal that every MA study graduate spends at least one semester studying abroad and participates in the activities of the international scientific community in the relevant field;
helping MA study graduates to take up doctoral studies at leading international research centres; providing the conditions for their return to the university after completing their doctoral studies;
offering the possibility to study in English on all doctoral study programmes and announcing doctoral study opportunities internationally;
creating post-doctoral placements at the university which would be announced and filled internationally.

3. Improving internationalisation in studies

3.1. Development of the curriculum
Subjects, modules and curricula taught in foreign languages are the foundation for the internationalisation of studies and for facilitating student exchange at the university. Without offering the possibility to study in a foreign language it would be virtually impossible to participate in the common European higher educational area; it would also limit the opportunities for local students to participate in international student-exchange programmes.
Adding an international dimension to the curricula and offering the opportunity to study in English undoubtedly increases the attractiveness of the university among local student candidates. These students will be better prepared for a successful career in an integrated European labour market. Studying in a multinational study environment provides local students with an opportunity to obtain international experience without going far from home.
The principal targets for development of the curricula are as follows:
continuing to develop master's curricula with the support offered by the Internationalisation Fund; critically evaluating the present competences and making an in-depth analysis of the interests of target groups; pursuing the goal of providing at least one master’s programmes in each field of the university's activities;
developing and instituting an interdisciplinary bachelor's programmes in English. The curriculum must be developed according to the principle that it allows students to continue their studies on the master’s degree programmes offered in English at the university;
priority is to be given to developing joint curricula with foreign universities;
developing “tailor-made” study-modules for specific institutions based on an analysis of their interests (e.g. transition societies, e-society etc.); besides lectures and seminars held at the university, these would also include practical activities to illustrate and analyse the Georgian experience;
developing of the summer and winter school programmes –Gori Summer School, Gori Winter school - with locally and internationally recognised courses.
In developing study programmes the attention is to be paid to international and interdisciplinary issues; contributions from visiting lecturers will be used in order to offer the students the experience of studying in a foreign language.
3.2. International mobility of students
The most essential indicator of the formation of a common International higher educational area is ever-increasing student mobility. Participating in student exchange programmes prepares them for competition on the local and international labour market. The university seeks to support student exchange and to further develop conditions for accepting exchange students in Gori Teaching University by increasing the proportion of studies in foreign languages in all study programmes.
Increasing the number of study programmes taught in foreign languages is a prerequisite for increasing the number of international full-time students; this is essential for reducing the impact of the forthcoming drop in the local student population. In order to maintain the current capacity of studies, the university must find new “target markets” and be successful in competition.
It should, however, be considered that only a small percentage of all students participate in student exchange. Studying together with foreign students gives local students their first experience in working in an international environment.
The principal targets in the field of student mobility are as follows:
5% of students, including every MA student, should spend at least one semester in a foreign university (currently about 0.3% of our students participate in exchange programmes and it have to increase to 1%);
active measures should be taken to increase the number of the Erasmus scholarships allocated to the university, as the Erasmus-programmes remains the main form of student exchange;
opportunities should be sought to offer a university grant in addition to the Erasmus scholarship to every outgoing Erasmus exchange student and to every student participating in the university bilateral exchange;
the main academic units should have effective Erasmus agreements (the evaluation of the academic units will take into account the statistics of student exchange)
by 2016, 23 international exchange students of GSTU have already studied at different European universities;
opportunities should be found to offer at least one scholarship for foreign students within each study programmes taught in a foreign language;
virtual mobility (e-courses in foreign universities, the virtual professional community etc.) should be supported for students who, for different reasons, are unable to participate in traditional student exchanges.
3.3. Lecturer mobility
One of the indicators of the internationalisation of higher education is the increase in lecturer mobility. The university values work experience at partner universities and facilitates the mobility of its lecturers in every way. It is also essential to increase the engagement of international lecturers because this will contribute to the quality of studies, give the opportunity to offer studies in fields where local competence is inadequate, and increase the number of subjects taught in foreign languages. A good number of visiting lecturers could be one of the generally acknowledged strengths for our university and this could prove to be a magnet for new students.
The principal targets in the field of lecturer mobility are as follows:
advertising posts for lecturers and researchers internationally academic positions will be filled by foreign academics; regular recruitment of foreign colleagues in all fields of activity at the university will also be essential;
with the support of the Internationalisation Fund, continuing to invite internationally outstanding researchers from foreign countries and supporting cooperation with partner universities to share visiting academics;
creating hostel facilities to accommodate visiting lecturers and researchers;
supporting virtual lecturer mobility (teaching international e-courses, participating in virtual communities etc.).

4. International communication and partnership relations

The achievement of each of the university's internationalisation targets is dependent upon the international reputation and recognition of the university as a whole. Therefore, the university will take the following distinct measures to enhance its international visibility:
– participation in international academic organisations and networks (EADL, EDEN, BSUN etc.);
- active cooperation with partner universities and the creation of new partnerships;
- targeted information activities in the international academic media/space;
- organising reputable, international research and events at the university.
Principal targets:
the external communication of the university will aim at enhancing international recognition; a separate programmes is to be started to introduce the university internationally;
an analysis into international cooperation agreements will be carried out; partners are to be determined and specific interests set for these partners; specific activities will be planned to realise these interests – an electronic database will be introduced covering the actions within each agreement and self-assessment and analysis will be carried out annually to determine the principles for cooperation agreements for the university as a whole and for individual study programmes;
a strategic partnership will exist with Tallinn University, Swansea University and a IRO will develop and coordinate this cooperation; the university will be represented in the most important international and regional networks, and the university will play a leading role in the region;
in connection with Gori a specific action plan will be developed to introduce the university internationally, as a capital city education and research centre.

5. The internationalisation support system at the university

To increase the proportion of foreign students, lecturers and researchers, it will be essential that the university's support system is ready and capable of operating in an international environment. The working environment of the university must be open and supportive for such visitors, the norms concerning internationalisation must be clearly fixed and general services should be easily accessible for those who do not speak Georgian. Taking into consideration the special needs of foreign students and researchers is to be regarded as a regular part of the development of the university environment.
The principal targets in the field of internationalisation of the support system:
the study information system will be fully accessible to English speaking customers;
general university documents, including information about the organisation of studies and research and norms concerning the professional requirements of the staff will be made available in English as well;
the library and its information system will be accessible in English;
the organisation of information dissemination and internal communication at the university will take into account those on the university staff who do not speak Georgian;
internationalisation coordinators will be appointed and will be active in all academic units; the work of the coordinators will be paid for and regular training will be provided for them;
a survey will be carried out to assess the level of foreign language proficiency, according to the results of which suitable language studies will be offered. The entire support personnel must be capable of working in an international environment;
all foreign students, lecturers and researchers will have the opportunity to learn Georgian free of charge, participating in programmes that will vary according to ability, level and frequency;
a sufficient number of accommodation places for foreign lecturers and students will be provided by university;
tutoring services will be efficient. An International Club for foreign students and International Cafe for foreign lecturers and researchers will help to integrate foreigners into the university and into Georgia.

6. Implementing the strategy

In order to realise these strategic objectives, detailed development plans will be compiled each year and central resources will be allocated through the Internationalisation Fund. The Administration, Academic board and IRO of the University will arrange for the monitoring of the strategic actions, coordinate the compilation of the interim reports and monitor the budget. In order to achieve the objectives set out in the strategy. The development plans for the main academic units must foresee specific targets in the field of internationalisation; the dean of each department carries the overall responsibility for realising these targets.
Once a year internationalisation issues will be discussed in the University Academic Board.

7.TEMPUS and Erasmus Mundus Centre

In 2012 within the framework of the project Tempus IV, Agreement Number 2011-2532 /001-001
TEMPUS-SMGR 516663-TEMPUS-1-2011-ES-TEMPUS-SMGR for the purposes of education internationalisation there were established TEMPUS and Erasmus Mundus Centres at the International Relations Office of GSTU. It is equipped with all modern equipment and the areas of its operation are as follows:
• to serve students and academic/administrative staff in exchange programmes and research projects (provide them with information, detailed explanation of raised issues, etc.) by the contact persons;
• to support with electronic courses the persons with disability to participate in traditional exchange programmes for different purposes;
• to promote development of curricula directions according to the needs of mobility;
• to support drafting memorandums and analysis;
• to train candidates participating in competitions in order to improve teaching English;
• to initiate new projects and inform the administration for their further participation.

8. Education Centre of Warsaw University

Polish Language Learning Centre is established within the framework of relationship between Gori State Teaching University and the University of Warsaw (Poland). The two universities concluded agreement. Both parties agreed on establishing Polish Language Learning Centre at Gori State Teaching University for GSTU students for strengthening future collaboration, participating in exchanging programmes, co-operating on scientific work etc.

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