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Needs analysis study of the Open Society Institute's undergraduate exchange programme


August 2001 - February 2002


In the period from August 2001 until February 2002, ACA carried out an analysis concerning the need for continuation of the OSI's "Undergraduate Exchange Programme" (UEP) which is a non-degree scholarship programme for undergraduate students from Central and Eastern European countries, for one-year study period in US. The programme's aims are to contribute to a strengthening of civil society and to assist educational development in Central and Eastern Europe. After the UEP has been in operation for eight years, OSI was concerned to find out if there is a continued need for this programme with regard to eight of these countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia), or whether other forms of support are more adequate under changed framework conditions. The ACA study, conducted by Director Bernd Wächter, was to advise OSI on this issue. It included the analysis of main aims and prior evaluations of the UEP, a survey of the current provision of scholarship programmes available in the region, a supply-demand analysis, and an overview of alternative (non-scholarship) forms of academic support.

Based on the results of conducted research ACA recommended OSI two alternative options for a follow-up programme to UEP, namely a modified option of the present UEP or a major departure from the present scholarship approach. Option 1 modifications include the abolition of subject area restriction, adding a "civil society" component to the study programme by making internships in NGOs or public bodies a mandatory part of the latter and by entering into systematic alumni work by involving alumni into the follow-up projects in the academic year following their return. Option 2 is a proposal for setting up university "centres of excellence" in the beneficiary countries, by means of institutional collaboration with US partner universities and colleges, and through a wider range of collaborative measures like student mobility, curriculum reform, short-term guest lectureship and etc. Irrespective of these two alternatives, the authors recommended to restrict participation in the programme to Croatia, Macedonia and Moldova, given that provision of scholarship and other types of support was much better in the remaining five countries, due to the Erasmus programme.