The Tempus Public Foundation (TPF) has established a new assessment process with focusing on the internationalization activities of Hungarian higher education institutions with the support of TÁMOP 4.2.4. B1 and B2 projects in 2013. The aim of the programme was to analyse and to evaluate the position of institutions in all areas of internationalization.
So far in Hungary the certification process on internationalization was unprecedented. Based on several successful internationalization project in previous years, Tempus Public Foundation undertook the examination and evaluation of the state of internationalization of Hungarian academic institutions in the framework of Campus Hungary programme between 2013-2015.
Domestic and foreign internationalization experts, including the Academic Cooperation Association as the main partner, institutional leaders and staff working in the field of internationalization along with representatives of governing bodies were all involved in preparing the core documents, which became the methodological guide for the procedure. The method showed a high degree of similarity to some earlier developed internationalization audits, such as the OECD and the Internationalization Quality Review Process.
The audit process was based on the assessment of several dimensions of the internationalization activities using qualitative and quantitative indicators. The applied methodology consisted of the following steps:
- self-assessment reports with an emphasize on the specific features of the institution
- institutional visit
- summary of peer review including the recommendation list by the expert group
- institutional action plan
The objective of the initiative on one hande was to facilitate an external quality assessment process with elaborating a unified description of dimensions and indicators of internationalization in Hungary, on the other hand to assist the institutions in improving quality in all areas on their international activities, and by this, increase the chance of their international accreditation.
The evaluation committee consisted of two Hungarian and one foreign expert, who was in every case a representative of the Academic Cooperation Association.
Tempus Public Foundation called the institutions to participate in the audit on voluntarily basis. Finally, ten higher education institutions were chosen, all of them with preliminary results in the international arena. Among the institutions, one can find large universities from Budapest and from the countryside, large and emerging colleges, medical school, art school and a church-owned university:
Budapest Business School
Eszterházy Károly University
Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design
Pázmány Péter Catholic University
Szent István University
University of Debrecen
University of Miskolc
University of Pécs
University of Szeged
In 2016, Tempus Public Foundation has started a new project, the Campus Mundi Programme, which aims to strengthen the quality of Hungarian higher education, with special regards to employability and the international recognition of Hungarian higher education institutions. It provided an opportunity to continue the professional work started in 2013.
In order to refine the methodology TPF collected feedback both from the intuitions and from the expert side.
TPF sent a questionnaire to the institutions asking them about their experiences and the afterlife of the audit in the case of their own institution. The final evaluation of the process considered all the documents generated through the ten institutional assessment, and the answers received to the questionnaire.
Some of the main points of the assessment:
1. The survey demonstrated that the majority of the institutions were willing to run follow-up activities, feedback was an important element of the audit. Half of the institutions would be the subject of a monitoring assessment visit on a later date with pleasure. The institutions appreciated that the recommendations were in accordance with the specifics of the institution.
2. Institution’s motivation to participate was to see their activities from the viewpoint of external evaluators, and to apply the recommendations in their strategic plans. The open questions of the survey referred to the benefits of the audit. The institutions found the overall review extremely helpful and they learnt a lot from the recommendations how to develop the inner processes of internationalization further.
3. The survey showed that the institutions could have provided student mobility data easily. The authors of the self-assessment reports had easy access to those data, which have been collected by the international offices; however, financial and economic data have hardly been available. Most of the institutions had problems with collecting research data due to the lack of a central database.
4. A few elements of the self-assessment reports can be generalized. In the last decade, the institutions have become more active in formulating their internationalization strategy and it has been incorporated to the mission statement and to the institutional strategy. Some higher education institutions achieved outstanding results in various areas of internationalization: new degree programmes have been offered in foreign languages; participation in mobility activities increased a lot; international units have been established and strengthened; the international research activity also progressed.
5. The assessments listed typical problems, too: top management positions (e.g. vice-rector for international affairs) could be found only in exceptional cases; international activities of the faculties were not homogeneous; the institution did not have a separate budget for internationalization; there was a shortage in foreign faculty and staff members; international re-search activities have not been recognized properly.
Following the evaluation of the documents, Tempus Public Foundation held a peer-learning activity with the involvement of auditors, experts and institutional representatives. The aim was to collect experiences of the first internationalization audit process of the academic years 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 by concentrating on the success factors and determining the directions of improvement, collecting recommendations for changes in the methodology. Before starting the new phase of the audit project, the PLA gave opportunity for the participants to work together as a think-tank, and to make proposals to improve the efficiency of assessing and measuring the degree and effectiveness of internationalization. The outcomes of the PLA were integrated in the revised internationalization audit handbook.
Based on the follow-up of the internationalization audit, Tempus Public Foundation was reassured that the process brought valuable experiences and has attracted the attention of the institutions to internationalization. It became clear that advisory-type of audits have to be continued for which the Campus Mundi project provides the professional platform.
The procedure will carry on in an extended scale, meaning to be opened to all interested higher education institutions in Hungary. The continuation of the Campus Hungary project will attract new institutions. There are two target groups. Those institutions which are in the early development phase of internationalization need support to find the right directions and methods to achieve visible results. They need recommendations how to manage the changes inside the institutions and how to create and run those units which are necessary for that strategic change. The other target group is formed from those institutions which want to make their internationalization activities more focused, more measurable. It is important for them to incorporate the internationalization activities into the overall institutional quality assurance system.
Tempus Public Foundation plans to conduct three to five audits per year until 2021, based on the following redefined methodology, a multi-phase long-term process:
The first step is a procedure using the methodical means of classical audits and accreditation processes, and which is followed by an evaluation including proposals. The primary objective of the first phase is counselling and development. The first step is an institutional self-evaluation, the method of which is to establish a proper assessment of the specific features of the institution through identifying the internationalization dimensions and entering the qualitative and quantitative data of these dimensions. This is followed by an analysis and an on-site visit as a second step, and finally as the third step the creation of summary of peer review, of which the most important part is the forming a list of recommendation. The fourth main step is the ensemble of feedback, institutional action plan and the amendment of the internationalization strategy by the institution.
The second phase is the monitoring visit. To those institutions that have already undergone evaluation and are willing to continue, a monitoring visit can be performed. The purpose of this visit is to assess the status of the implementation of the institutional action plan. In doing so it assesses the executed activities between the first and the second phase. The focus is on the development of the results and it aims to support the decision-making about the future activities within the internationalization process. The monitoring audit is an institutional consultation based on a simple structured questionnaire. The consultation focuses on the most important issues of the action plan, concentrates on the performed development and presented results, and primarily intends to display in which way the internationalization process should continue.
The evaluation committee will consist of two Hungarian and one foreign expert. Within the framework of Campus Mundi project TPF aims to set up a wider and more diverse international and national expert team, thereby increase the available expert knowledge to the institutions. The establishment of the expert pool is under the process.