The Belarusian economy is currently facing the challenge of innovative change. Undoubtedly, the Republic of Belarus possesses the potential to become a prosperous and competitive economy. However in order to realize this potential the actual economic model requires consistent and comprehensive reforms. For that purpose the Belarusian authorities have worked out the national strategy of sustainable economic development till 2030. According to this strategy, the country is going to make drastic change within the near 15 years.
The above strategy comprises five priorities:
1. Human potential and its efficient application
2. Accelerated development of hi-tech manufactures and services.
3. Growth of national exports
4. Improvement of institutional environment and creation of favorable business climate. Accomplishment of this objective requires removing excessive governmental interference in the economy, increasing accessibility and quality of state services, ensuring equal competition for all forms of property. It is necessary to guarantee stability and transparency in all fields of activities.
5. To make production ecologic and assure ecological safety.
The development of innovation economy of the country calls for obligatory solving a human resource problem. Nevertheless, this problem can hardly be solved instantly and independently as the capacity of educational establishments engaged in training qualified staff is limited and does not always meet the society’s requirements. Among the handicaps spearheading the problem one can mention fast technological development and rapid penetration of its results into people’s life just because it is impossible to anticipate what set of knowledge and skills young people will need in 10-15 years.
Due to the Strategy of the Information Society in the Republic of Belarus for the period up to 2015 every citizen should be ready to live in the conditions of digital society. However, Belarus is not fully using the potential offered by new technologies and digital content to improve the efficiency, accessibility and equity of education, training and learning. The demand for IT specialists in Belarus is constantly increasing. In 2014, as compared to 2009, it grew by 40% on average. The existing demand in IT specialists is three times as high as their supply; however, graduates of different educational institutions aren’t always in demand as the knowledge that they received in the educational institution often lags behind the requirements of the employer.
Therefore, new approach on training is extremely important and it is urgent to implement new or updated study programmes in the area of computing in higher education sector improving the quality of studies in line with the Bologna requirements. The survey of the educational services market has shown lack of the study programmes in IT area offered by HEIs. Meeting the demand for specialists in labour market tree institutions of higher education both in public and private sector P2-P6 have decided to update their study programmes of Information resources Management (P2), Mathematics and IT (P3), Management with IT specialisation (P4), Information Systems and Technologies (P5), Informatics (P6) including 25 new innovative courses. That will make about 21- 22 percent of each study programme. The updated content of the five study programmes including development, testing and adaptation of new innovative courses, learning materials and tools will comply with the priorities of National higher education strategy of Belarus. The results of the updated study programmes will reduce barriers for specialists characterised by collaboration buttom-up practices where the specialist is also a creator of professional content or project.
Cooperation with the representatives of the Programme countries will allow developing modern professional competences of Belarus teachers and graduates taking into account the requirements of foreign specialists, which will allow them to be competitive not just in the Republic of Belarus, but also in the countries of European Union. The updated study programmes with new online courses will be useful for the students of the participating counties and the academic environment globally, that will offer broad access to high-quality higher education, based on democratic principles and academic freedom.
The overall objective is to increase the competitiveness of Belarus P2-P6 offering high-quality higher education that meets the changing needs of the economic environment.
The specific objective is to develop modern competencies of computing specialists bringing modern courses, implementing innovative teaching/learning methods and tools, purchasing eLearning equipment for P2-P6 into line with Bologna requirements by October 2018.
The updated study programmes containing newly developed innovative courses will be in synergy with “Europe 2020” which is the EU’s growth strategy with five ambitious objectives – on employment, innovation, education, social inclusion and climate/energy – to be reached by 2020. In particular this project complies with the initiative “An agenda for new skills and jobs” aiming to give fresh momentum to labour market reforms to help people gain the right skills for future.
Having developed the new courses and adapted them for delivering online in English and Russian will support improvement of study quality, acquiring new knowledge and competences in computing area, foster transnational institutional cooperation and enrich educational environment of preparation of IT specialists, facilitate the introduction of transfer of credits and recognition of studies abroad using ECTS.