Sunday, December 3, 2023

Kosovo's public universities are enhancing collaboration with industry leaders in the agriculture and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sectors to align curriculum revisions with market demands. Starting this November, university academic staff, teaching excellence centers, and student career centers are undergoing training to lead working groups dedicated to continuously adapting and improving curricula to meet the latest job market requirements.

Monica Dreyer Rossi, a University of Iowa competency-based education expert, leads workshops that draw on Iowa's academia-industry collaboration to address the training and education requirements of partner universities in Kosovo, including the University of Prishtina, the University of Prizren, and the University of Peja.

Faculty and staff gather around a table for a training session in Kosovo.
A group exercise takes place on conducting a job analysis for curriculum revision.

The Training of Trainers program, made possible with support from USAID Kosovo, is designed and delivered by the UI through the Private Sector Partnerships to Strengthen Higher Education Activity. The Training of Trainers will produce skilled facilitators who will lead university-industry corporate panels in the future. These panels, comprised of university representatives and industry professionals, create and revise study programs, aligning them with the advice of successful industry figures who work directly in the field.

Four training sessions have taken place at partner universities. With more than 40 participants, these sessions have provided an opportunity to assess current university practices related to curriculum development in collaboration with the private sector. Participants delved into methods for enhancing industry professionals' engagement, effectively structuring and leading corporate panels to ensure the inclusion of highly qualified industry experts, and pinpointing competencies and training requirements for the universities' targeted study programs.

 Some of the participants share their thoughts on their experience:

"Adapting and shaping our study programs to align with industry demands is a crucial step towards achieving accreditation. We are appreciative of the support and guidance provided by the University of Iowa, on leading corporate panels. This experience presented us with a valuable opportunity to enhance our ability to analyze job market requirements, engage in meaningful discussions, and evaluate our curriculum revision methodologies alongside our peers from different universities. Additionally, we have acquired tools that help us gather essential information and engage with industry representatives who play a vital role in shaping our educational initiatives."

– Assistant Professor Zana Limani Fazliu, Faculty of Electrical and Computer Science, University of Prishtina

"Participating in this training series was a valuable opportunity to collaborate with professors from public universities in Kosovo and the University of Iowa. Together, we assessed current practices and new curriculum revision techniques that enable enhanced coordination with private sector representatives. We've acquired useful tools to facilitate productive discussions with industry professionals, document their insights effectively, and better align our study programs with career preparation goals."

– Associate Professor Ismajl Cacaj, Faculty of Agrobusiness,  University of Peja.

"While we have consistently involved private sector representatives in curriculum development, we always welcome deeper engagement and specific advice from them. I anticipate applying the techniques learned here to enhance industry professionals' involvement in our future corporate panel meetings. This will facilitate discussions that provide us with the information required to develop study programs aligned with the latest industry needs and challenges." 

Associate Professor Sermin Turtulla, The Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Prizren

A man presents a training session before a group of seated participants in Kosovo.
A participant presents at a training session in Kosovo.

Kosovo's public universities are dedicated to adapting and evolving their curricula to meet industry demands as they strive both for accreditation and to ensure the employability of their graduates. The  collaboration with the UI and industry experts has proven invaluable in this journey. The skills, insights, and tools acquired through these training sessions will undoubtedly play a significant role in shaping the future of education in Kosovo and empowering students with the knowledge and skills needed for successful careers in the dynamic job market.