EU funded project “Euroentrepreneurship – university qualifications for the Europeanization of the Romanian society”

“Euroentrepreneurship – university qualifications for the Europeanization of the Romanian society” (POSDRU/156/1.2/G/140578) is a project implemented by the College of Communication and Public Relations (National University of Political Studies and Public Administration – NUPSPA, Bucharest) in partnership with the Institute for European Studies within Vrije Universitiet Brussels (VUB).

The main challenge addressed by the project was to increase the capacity of Romanian universities (as PHE representatives) to provide qualifications that meet the needs of the employers and the on-going dynamics of the labor market. Two specific objectives of the project were

  • to introduce and validate a new qualification in Romania: expert in European affairs
  • to improve the curricula of the three targeted MA programmes, in order to meet the labour market needs.

The project was co-financed by the European Social Fund, total eligible value: 2150473.19 lei, of which 2105313.25 lei is the value of the non-reimbursable financial assistance, via the Sectoral Operational Programme Human Resources Development 2007 – 2013, Priority Axis 1 – “Education and training in support for growth and development of knowledge based society”, Key Area of Intervention 1.2 – “Quality in higher education”.

  • The target groups were the MA students in the programs EU Communication & Governance, Project Management, and Brand Management & Corporate Communication, and the employees from the beneficiary (10 members from the university or college leadership/commissions, 10 people involved in the development and management of academic qualification at the university/college level, and 16 people involved in the development of higher education study programs).

The team conducted a two-fold research on the skills and expertise expected by employers from the future experts in communication, governance and entrepreneurship in the European context. The views of both national and European employers were taken into consideration.

From a methodological standpoint, two mirror studies were conducted in Romania and in Brussels, with the input of the partner- IES-VUB. From the student perspective, the studies aimed to identify strengths of Master programmes, the gaps and shortcomings of Master programmes, and the key elements to improve European Master’s programmes in relation to access to the job market. From the employer’s perspective, they aimed to inquire about professional qualifications needed/desired to enter the work field within various institutions related to European affairs, and to identify academic and knowledge gaps or barriers to access the job market.

The Romanian study employed qualitative methods- interviews and focus groups. Interviews with representatives of the Romanian accreditation bodies, representative of the PHE institutions management, and representatives of the employers were conducted. Furthermore, focus groups with students enrolled in the three masters programs provided the second cluster of data. The mirror study, implemented by the Belgian partner, included an online Survey with alumni from IES 2 Master degree programmes and interviews with HR experts in the field related to European Affairs.

In order to strengthen the connection between the faculty members, students, and the field of work, a series of study visits to Brussels were organized. Three training sessions on “How to teach Europe” for 36 staff members of the Beneficiary took place in Bruxelles, including study visits at the European institutions. Additionally, three ‘Bruxelles open doors’ campaigns, including study visits at the European institutions, were provided for 60 MA students.

Some important results of this project are the following:

  • two studies on the qualifications and competencies of experts in communication, governance and entrepreneurship in the European context;
  • three up-to-date MA programs (EU Communication & Governance, Project Management, and Brand Management & Corporate Communication);
  • three training sessions on “How to teach Europe” for 36 NUPSPA’s experts at Bruxelles;
  • three ‘Bruxelles open doors’ campaigns for 60 MA students;
  • a new qualification – expert in EU affairs – validated by the National Authority for Qualifications;
  • a new research center and practice network.


More Information

Impact

What was the challenge intended to be addressed? Why? What did work well? What did not work well? What have been the main achievements? How did you evaluate its success? What has been the change brought by this good practice?

The most significant impact of the project consisted in:
- the improvement of the curricula of the three masters programs targeted by the project, based on the results of the two studies on the labor market needs
- the know-how transferred to faculty members during their study visits
- The successful validation of the new qualification of expert in European affairs, developed according to the labor market needs.
- Consolidated capacity of faculty members to teach courses related to communication, governance and entrepreneurship in the European context.

Success Factors

What are the enabling conditions (e.g. institutional, economic, social/cultural, regulatory) that needed to be in place or played a facilitating role for the good practice to be successful?

The main success factors are related to:
a. funding- in this case, the costs were largely non-reimbursable (EU-funded)
b. specific for EU-funded projects- the quality of project management, as a driving factor for success
c. institutional- successful partnership with VUB.

Constraints

What are the challenges, barriers or limiting factors encountered? How have they been addressed?

The imperative to comply with the numerous regulations for EU funded projects leads to some intrinsic limitations, ranging from reporting and reimbursement of expenses, to resources allocation, and the imperative to seek approval for any changes in the initial implementation plan. These factors can be addressed only though a good understating of the regulations in place, a close relation to the Management Authority and the enhancement of the project management capabilities of the team.

Feasibility & Sustainability

What are the elements that need to be put into place for the good practice to be sustainable (institutionally, socially, economically, etc.)? If applicable, indicate the total costs incurred for the implementation of the practice. What are the benefits compared to total costs?

Total costs of implementation were of 2150473 RON (approx. 463,983 EUR), out of which 2105313.25 lei (approx 454,240 EUR) is the value of the non-reimbursable financial assistance.

Replicability & Upscaling

What are the possibilities of extending the good practice more widely? What are the conditions that need to be in place for the good practice to be successfully replicated in a similar context? What are the steps that should be taken/respected to ensure that the good practice is replicated / up-scaled, but adapted to the new context?

Although the project itself is unique in its scope and goals, as well as very specific to the institution in which it was implemented, its general approach to providing qualifications that meet the needs of the employers and the on-going dynamics of the labor market is easily replicable.

Lessons learned

What would have facilitated an earlier and/or bigger impact? What are the key features that should be kept in mind if this would have to be implemented again? What would you do differently if you could go back in time? What could have been done better?

-The importance of cross-border partnerships for improving the PHE sector.
-The importance of cross-national research on the labor market needs in the European context
-The importance of involving students in improving PHE programs and the curricula
-The need to take advantage of EU funding opportunities as means of overcoming the high costs of market research & staff training

Context

Please provide some information about the context and initial situation that can help in fully understanding the action (e.g. information about the national system, applying regulations, etc.)

Today it is a well-established fact that not only entrepreneurship, but also communication are crucial to business development and economic growth. Under the pressure of globalization and integration, the European Union has no other choice but to stimulate the entrepreneurial spirit of European citizens by means of enhancing entrepreneurship-related policymaking, by promoting entrepreneurship education or by better communicating with its citizens in order to create the necessary environment for entrepreneurial development.