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SMSDU Tempus Structural and Complementary Measures Project
Project background

Within the first decade of the 21st century Croatian universities are facing a wide systemic transformation directed toward the development of quality culture, based on the trends leading to the harmonisation of the European Area of Higher Education. Demands for change have been put forward from within the system as well as from the outside parties. Globalisation of knowledge production and transfer, massification of higher education and limited state resources to support high quality research and teaching are recognised as the main worldwide agents of these changes. In order to cope effectively with these demands major shifts have been identified within university goals and culture towards entrepreneurship, life-long learning, multidisciplinary research, social responsibility, international networking and the development of quality assurance mechanisms.
At this point, Croatian universities are still organized as loose associations of their constituents, which are the real bearers of legal and academic autonomy (so called model of collegium academy). Management is operating in two rather distinct sectors: one primarily concerned with academic issues (where managerial positions are usually taken with reluctance or looked upon as honorary duties), and the other dealing with technical and administrative infrastructure (perceived usually by the former as a bureaucratic burden that is performing mainly traditionally based, routine tasks). On the other side academia still holds traditional views of teaching based on the assumptions that: 1. teaching is more a vocation and a question of talent than a profession and a matter of acquiring specific knowledge and skills, 2. primary goal of teaching in higher education is the transmission of information in order to broaden the body of relevant field knowledge, 3. high quality research skills are the key prerequisite for effective teaching.
The limitations of the existing framework have been also recognised in "The Strategy for the development of science in the Republic of Croatia" which in its operative plan stipulates that «scientific institutions should be obliged to create processes, plans and budgets for establishing competences and ensure continuous development of their staff». The University of Zagreb had previously recognised that need, resulting in several external evaluations as well as in an extensive self-evaluation. Those events were the impetus for the formulation of the university development strategy BREAKTHROUGH 2001, emphasizing in particular the need for a new model of university organization and management that was accepted as an important strategic document in the wider academic community.
The University of Zagreb recently acted as main coordinator for two university management TEMPUS projects related to the internationalisation of the university and the development of quality assurance system: 1. Development of university international offices in Croatia (UM_JEP 15074-2000), 2. Development of Quality Assurance System in Higher Education (UM_JEP 16015-2001). The final report of the first project clearly pointed out the need for continuous staff development programmes as the main guarantee for the successful implementation of the international policy and missions.
The quality assurance project focuses on the development of a comprehensive model of quality assurance both at national and institutional levels. One of the key insights gained through the contacts with EU partner institutions was that organisational changes aimed at raising the levels of the quality culture are most effectively implemented when all staff (regardless of its position and orientation, either academic or administrative) are properly instructed so that they understand the significance and implications of change, and when they have opportunities to build up their professional competencies in order to meet developmental demands. The development of such forms of organisational support is recognised as a major priority for the University of Zagreb.
Active participation in the UNESCO-CEPES programme "Regional University Network in Governance and Management of Higher Education" revealed capacity of the University of Zagreb to be a leading force supporting the management of change within the Croatian higher education system. Due to its contribution in this programme the University of Zagreb was awarded the UNESCO Chair in management and governance of higher education. Two main long term goals of the Chair were expressed as follows:
a) to serve as a source of expert advisory support in the foreseen transformation in management and governance of the higher education institutions in Croatia;
b) to establish the basis for policy oriented research and graduate programmes in higher education management and governance.
Recognizing the importance of the establishment of a staff development service as one of the key factors in achieving quality culture in higher education and in accordance with its main goals, the UNESCO Chair in management and governance in higher education at the University of Zagreb wishes to enhance this process by submission of this Structural and Complementary Measures project.
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