Vanadzor State University was founded on 9 July, 1969. VSU is considered to be the largest higher educational institution of Lori Region and strives to maintain its leading position as Armenia’s north regional education-service provider and research centre.
Nowadays about 70% of regional teachers are VSU graduates; there is also a big number of graduates in the university academic staff (48.7%). Education is delivered at 5 faculties of the University: Philology, History and Geography, Pedagogy, Biology and Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics.
VSU has embarked on different activities and reforms which aim at integrating the University into EHEA. Since 2004 VSU has been delivering tertiary education: Bachelor’s (2004), Master’s (2008), Post-graduate Studies (2006). Education is based on the core principles of the ECTS.
Today VSU has close cooperation with around 30 major HEIs in Europe and post-soviet countries.
Since 2013, serious investments have been made to improve the level of higher education at VSU. As a result, five Tempus and four Erasmus Mundus mobility projects have been implemented at VSU. Due to Tempus projects the University has undergone positive structural changes and Erasmus Mundus mobility projects have given VSU students and staff an opportunity to gain European teaching and learning experience. Currently, the University is involved in three Erasmus+ projects, BOOST /Boosting Armenian Universities Internationalization Strategy & Marketing /; PRINTeL / Change in Classroom: Promoting Innovative Teaching & Learning to Enhance Student Learning Experience in Eastern Partnership Countries and ARMDOCT / Reforming Doctoral Education in Armenia in Line with Needs of Academia, Industry and Current EU practices. The wider objective of the BOOST Project is to foster and promote further internationalization of Armenian Higher Education through the development of national and institutional policy framework and tools. Due to the PRINTeL project innovative teaching and learning methods are being implemented at VSU. The ARMDOCT project has started this year and is directed to reforming the third cycle of HE in Armenia.
At present VSU has Erasmus+ bilateral agreements on International Credit Mobility with the 7 EU universities: University of Porto, Portugal; Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, Romania; University of Granada, Spain; University of Linköping, Sweden; Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan; University of Erlangen, Germany and Angel Kanchev University of Ruse, Bulgaria.
The University should take due note of the language proficiency entailed in internationalization and the services needed. The University’s external communications in English is highly significant as regards its international visibility. What’s more, it is important to raise the international profile of the University; hence, lecturing and communicating in English has become a great asset. In the pursuit of this goal, the Chair of Foreign Languages embarked on the enhancement of English proficiency level of the academic staff so that they would be able to teach their subjects in English starting from the academic year 2019-2020. This achievement will serve a solid basis for the establishment of a language resource centre which will carry out a number of activities, including intensive language learning courses, new approaches to teaching and curriculum design, development of joint study programs, etc.
Teaching foreign languages is also provided at the Lifelong Learning Centre of VSU where 5 languages are currently being taught at different language levels (English, French, German, Russian and Spanish). Due to modern teaching methods and materials, students of different specialties enrolled in the language courses have an opportunity to acquire new foreign languages and improve their language skills.
It is an irrefutable fact that the use of English as a medium of instruction (EMI) has been growing significantly in recent years. Consequently, incorporating intercultural and international dimension into academic programs, teaching curriculums and research has become a great asset. To enhance the international profile of the academic program “English Language and Literature”, in the academic year 2017-18, the Chair of Foreign Languages with the strong support of the University leadership and 30 Bachelor and Master students of the English Department embarked on a project aimed at increasing the English language proficiency of the University teaching staff. In this pursuit, a 10-member group from the University academic staff was formed. At the outset, a multi-component, hands-on approach to teaching and learning activities was adopted to meet the learning expectations of the different specialists the group consisted of. All successfully completed the two-year course reaching B1+ level.
This academic year, the recently established Resource Centre (functioning under the direct guidance of the Chair of Foreign Languages) has taken the responsibility for the completion of the EMI course with the same group to achieve B2 level required to deliver lectures and do research in English. The group has assumed a dual role making the project unique in its kind.
The implementation of this project will continue until the expected outcomes are fully met: to reach level C1/2.