The fundamental strategic goal of the Academy Of Fine Arts And Design, Bratislava (AFAD) is focusing primarily on improving the quality and progressively developing the educational, artistic and research activities, as well as on an intensified fulfilment of its cultural and humanising mission.
The school’s direction expects it is comprehensively prepared to respond to ever new criteria for quality and sustainability of the education process it carries out, together with ever increasing requirements for artistic activities and research outputs.
In an equal manner, the academy is also expected to sensitively perceive the changing conditions of societal development, respond to them, implement the outcomes of this process in its activities, promptly and critically evaluate socio-cultural processes and events, and also take distinctive standpoints with regard to such events.
In order to strengthen this goal and its continuity, it is necessary to provide permanent support for creative activities at all of the school’s departments and units, gradually implement system amendments, introduce new structures, but also to create new tools – and to do all that with a positive impact on improving AFAD’s teaching and other academic activities.
In addition, the school will have the chance to optimise its ties with other institutions and professional practices, which together establish a complex framework for future success of is graduates. Thus, the academy will become a sought-after partner for domestic and international universities, other institutions and companies engaged in solving mutual educational, artistic or research-and-development projects, as well as for participation on international programs and academic mobilities.
Key Goals Of AFAD Development Within Its Long-Term Strategy
Along with providing university education, artistic, scientific and research activities, academic grants and other projects, AFAD also continually contributes to increasing the level of internationalisation and international cooperation. Within this key area, the academy pledges to commit to fulfilling the following requirements:
Internationalisation And International Cooperation
- The tendency of our departments and studios to participate in international artistic and presentation projects has increasing tendency; one of our goals is to achieve the same trend also in the education area.
- AFAD continues to look for new areas of cooperation, as well as to build good and long-term partnerships, thus creating a list of relevant partners. Within the framework of its current strategy, AFAD establishes partnerships with organisations from Western Balkans. Apart from the advantage of linguistic similarity, we also share a similar set of cultural values. Our goal is exchange of experiences, and support of schools in this region as AFAD can assist them with creating new curricula and enhancing their study plans. We will also make effort to support opening doctoral-degree study programmes with which there is little or no experience in the given region within the area of arts.
- In the long-term, AFAD students have shown high interest in study or work mobility abroad, and this interest is actually rising (thanks also to promotion and activities of the International Office – e.g. organising information seminars about mobility programme opportunities, providing information via our website and Facebook profile page, emailing offers to students, etc.). Improving and enhancing mobilities increases the chances of finding future opportunities both at the domestic and international markets. However, interest in mobilities varies among the individual departments, which is why we need to focus our attention to those departments where students do not make sufficient use of available mobility opportunities. Unfortunately, financial backing is also unequal with regard to actual interest, therefore AFAD needs to continue searching for new sources of financing.
- AFAD provides international students several sources of information regarding its study programmes (regular website updates, annually published study guide in both Slovak and English, Facebook profile page also in both languages, etc.). The number of international students attending AFAD’s mobility programmes has been relatively satisfactory for some years now. However, this positive trend is not matched by increasing the offer of study courses offered in a foreign language, or the level of academic operational services on the part of AFAD. Our institution strives to increase the number of courses offered in English and thus bring new opportunities for international students. This initiative proved successful in a partnership with the Academy of Performing Arts (VŠMU) in Bratislava. International students at AFAD are able to enrol in courses offered at VŠMU, and vice-versa.
- In 2016, AFAD introduced the possibility to take entrance exams in English (both the theoretical and the practical part) for applicants interested in studying at AFAD. Our school is also able to arrange Slovak language courses (our core study programme is available only in Slovak). In addition, AFAD plans to offer language courses for administrative staff and teachers in order to improve its ability to communicate with foreign students. The goal of AFAD is to create conditions conducive to increasing the total number of international students enrolled in the full-time programme.
- International mobility of students enrolled in doctoral studies is unsatisfactory, as is international cooperation in the area of doctoral studies. Our plan is to organise colloquia of PhD students on an international level.
- The international network of partner institutions is relatively extensive, but unevenly distributed – attention needs to be paid to those international institutions and study programmes that represent prospective partners for AFAD in areas of teaching, development, artistic and research activities.
- Mobility of university teachers and research staff related primarily to individual artistic or research projects is satisfactory, while mobility related to teaching is more-or-less sporadic. The situation is similar also with regard to teachers and research staff coming to AFAD from schools abroad – more focus needs to be placed on internationalisation of teaching activities.
- AFAD sets it as its goal to centralise the database of information related to internationalisation, as well as systematic monitoring and internal evaluation of international activities of the school’s individual units.
Mobility – Studies And Teaching
The main strategic goal with regard to AFAD’s internationalisation and international cooperation is developing and enhancing international mobility of students, pedagogues and research staff between AFAD and international educational, research and work institutions, namely by means of:
- supporting short-term study programmes within the framework of Erasmus+ and Ceepus programmes, as well as within AFAD’s bilateral agreements with educational institutions abroad; enhancing the conditions of the acceptance process for international mobility, as well as by full-scale integration of a study visit abroad into the study programme – which makes AFAD’s study programme fully recognised abroad;
- promoting successful experience of our students, graduates and pedagogues abroad, as well as enhancing our communication with foreign media;
- motivating students to take part in the ‘Freemovers’ type of mobility, which enables them to travel to any foreign institution outside the framework of the exchange programme or AFAD partnerships:
providing information regarding this type of mobility and programmes that provide its financial support,
creating conditions for a full-scale incorporation of this type of mobility into our study programmes,
- participating on creating opportunities and means for mobility development and internationalisation of doctoral studies:
by joining international networks for activities related to this area,
by supporting the individual artistic and research activities of PhD students abroad;
- initiating and supporting short-term student internships in leading enterprises, companies or institutions abroad; enhancing the effectiveness of conditions for a full-fledged integration of internships into curricula;
- enhancing the quality of published information regarding the possibilities to join international projects, workshops and studies abroad;
- using well-trained personnel for coordination of grant programmes and execution of mobilities;
- monitoring and simplifying the transition of AFAD graduates into professional life immediately after completing their studies, namely by supporting internships focused on vocational training and utilising gained knowledge, skills and qualifications on the labour market; participating in the search for financial sources supporting mobility of students, pedagogues and research workers.
Another AFAD’s goal on the level of internationalisation and international cooperation is to evaluate our effectiveness together with attested educational institutions – the determining factor will be the personal experience and knowledge of students themselves, gathered via questionnaires, as well as direct experience and opinions of pedagogues gained during study visits abroad.
Bilateral agreements need to be coordinated so that they correspond with the number and specialisation of study programmes at AFAD. Increasing the number of accepted foreign students and enhancing the conditions of their study visits at AFAD is possible by:
- effective promotion of AFAD abroad,
- enhancing the quality of our study programmes, expanding the courses offered in foreign languages, especially in English,
- improving the quality of our services and support (consulting and administrative support offered to foreign students during their study visits),
- organising international summer camps and workshops with participation of students from partnership schools abroad.
Supporting internationalisation of our school as well as expanding our knowledge on the current direction of similar study programmes abroad is possible to achieve by:
- a more active promotion of international mobility of pedagogues, research workers and eventually also AFAD’s administrative staff, as well as reciprocal exchanges with international partner schools, especially for short-term study visits, research and artistic stays or visits,
supporting teaching stays and research-artistic fellowships of foreign pedagogues and AFAD’s research staff, especially within the framework of the Erasmus+ and Ceepus programmes, the National Scholarship Programme of the Slovak Republic, and the Fulbright Scholarship,
developing special cooperation with partnership schools from the Visegrád Group and the Western Balkans regions, among other things also by pedagogue exchange stays and organising mutual educational and creative activities.
AFAD Membership In International Organisations And Associations
It is tremendously important to sustain and develop AFAD’s position within organisations in which our school is an active member (ELIA), as well as to revive our activities in organisations where we are passive (Cumulus, Association European Artistic Schools), and to re-establish previously cancelled memberships (ico-D, International Council of Design, the former Icograda). Mutual exchange of experiences on international forums can successfully contribute to enhancing the quality of our education programmes, expand our contacts abroad, and develop further international cooperation. This is possible by:
- supporting participation of AFAD representatives (pedagogues and research staff) as well as students in activities and events organised by respective organisations – such participation will also provide opportunities for monitoring the partnership schools,
- creating effective tools for a more active engagement of representatives of the individual departments in such organisations,
- identifying responsibilities of AFAD’s individual departments together with their active participation in strategy,
- active participation in membership organisations and supporting membership of partnership universities.
International Cooperation Support – Internationalisation Of Education, Research And Development
The following is important for continuous improvement of our international cooperation and internationalisation of education, research and development:
- supporting participation of university pedagogues and research staff in international projects in areas of arts and research, as well as participating in organising international conferences, symposia, workshops, summer camps, etc.,
- supporting creation and accreditation of mutual study programmes together with a partnership school, as well as activities leading to receiving two diploma, or a shared diploma,
- initiating cooperation with foreign partners on development and teaching projects:
e.g. by providing shared theses advisory, assigning joint topics for term papers and their consequent mutual consulting, reciprocal participation on thesis evaluations, cooperating on organising doctoral studies, exchanging study materials, etc.,
- expanding on special relationships with partnership schools from the V4 countries,
- developing cooperation with foreign cultural institutions and embassies in Slovakia, as well as significant international government agencies or NGOs,
- supporting activities focused on establishing new international partnership contacts,
- enhancing AFAD’s self-promotion abroad,
- continuing in and supporting successful international activities (e.g. projects like the open studio of our Studio “IN”)
- participating in international conferences and forums,
- enhancing the quality of information and communication channels about our school in foreign languages.
Information Database Of International Activities And Contacts
Within the framework of creating a database of our international activities, contacts and information related to internationalisation, the following steps and actions will be taken:
- preparing and continually updating a manual for mobility activities abroad,
- establishing a complex and structured database of educational and other partnership institutions abroad (database of contact of individual departments with partners abroad) and its ongoing updates,
- participating in monitoring significant international activities of AFAD’s academic staff, students and graduates (participation on creating such monitoring system and its tools).