Erasmus Policy of Theological School of the Church of Cyprus (TSCC)

The application of the “Theological School of the Church of Cyprus (TSCC)” has been selected for the award of the Erasmus Charter for Higher Education (ECHE). The award was announced to the TSCC on 15th February 2017. By applying for this Charter, our institution has committed itself to implementing the activities funded by the Erasmus+ Programme in line with the fundamental principles of the Charter and to publishing the Erasmus Policy Statement of our institution on our website within one month of receipt of the Charter.

Erasmus Policy Statement (Overall Strategy)

TSCC is a newly founded Higher Educational Institution that opened in September 2015 in Nicosia under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Cyprus. At the present time it comprises one Faculty of Theology with 13 first-year and 18 second-year students. Within the next few years, TSCC plans to open new faculties as well as postgraduate programmes.

TSCC is still in the early stages of its development but it looks to the future, listening to the needs of the island and trying to fill all cultural or social bridges. At the crossroads of Europe and the Middle East, TSCC’s geographical location is optimal to develop strong and beneficial relations across the borders.

In TSCC we believe that higher education is a power for open-mindedness and positive behaviours and that it makes a significant intellectual and cultural contribution to the world. We are committed to international excellence through the creation of innovative research programmes and high quality teaching, within an inclusive academic culture. Besides, TSCC seeks to inspire its students and staff to develop their full potential in a dynamic environment. To that end, internationalization, exchange programmes and international experience stand as its highest priority.

Through the research activities of its academic staff at European and international level, TSCC already maintains strong ties with numerous universities across Europe and the Middle East in various fields (Liturgy, History, and Psychology). Diversity and openness are the key words of TSCC’s international strategy. TSCC encourages the development of academic-led initiatives and projects, disseminating information about new opportunities and promoting good practices in all aspects of its international operations and strategy. The RIRO was created to institutionalize, support and expand this existing network in close relation and dialogue with TSCC academic staff.

The main prerogative of the RIRO is to promote mobility and exchange agreements among partner institutions whose academic staff have collaborated or will collaborate with TSCC in the form of visiting lectures, workshops and/or research projects. When a prospective partner university initiates an inter-institutional agreement, its proposal will be first evaluated by the RIRO according to set criteria (i.e. quality assurance, consistency with the programs). Proposed agreements will be reviewed by the devoted Office and eventually be presented to the RIPRC for approval. Each agreement (European and non-European) is to be signed by the Director of Research, registered in the School database and communicated among the academic staff at the General Assembly of each Department.

Partner Institutions are chosen based upon their strategic fit with TSCC in terms of academic programmes, teaching and research priorities, language of instruction and on the potential that a sustainable partnership model will be achieved, with respect to balancing inward and outward student mobility as possible. We look into programmes of studies that our students are eligible to attend without difficulties in adapting in the new learning environments. At the present time, TSCC is considering for cooperation a number of Faculties of Theology (mainly Orthodox but not exclusively) located in Europe and participating to Erasmus+ Programmes like Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Austria, Germany, France, Finland and third countries institutions located in Russia, Lebanon and the USA. We also look for partnerships with institutions that offer innovating and unique courses that are not offered by our institution and can complement our teaching programmes. In turn this strategy will also benefit prospective incoming students who will have the opportunity to broaden their perspectives by attending our programmes. Relying on the basis of a fruitful cooperation, reciprocal trust and a mutual exchange of good practices, TSCC seeks for long-term inter-institutional agreements that comply with, not only its own needs as a small and newly founded institution, but with the needs of all potential partners.

The primary target group for our mobility activities are our students. In the perspective of its 4-year BA programme, TSCC encourages students’ mobility for studies as well as for placement in the framework of the “Practical experience in primary and secondary schools”, which is a prerequisite for their graduation (duration: one semester). Besides student placement and studies mobility programmes, we aim at promoting faculty and staff mobility among the personnel of our School, especially training mobility both for academics and administrative staff that would contribute in enhancing their knowledge and skills and instill in them the motivation and desire to share the outcomes of their experience abroad with their colleagues and students.

Expected impact of our participation in the Erasmus+ Programme on the modernisation of our institution.

TSCC supports the EU Modernisation and Internationalisation Agenda for Higher Education, while the Erasmus Charter for Higher Education is integral to the realisation of its institutional goals, plans, strategies and aspirations. TSCC is committed to international cooperation first of all through the creation of open-minded citizens of a modern world. Equity, social cohesion and active citizenship are core values expressed in our institutional strategy and that defines our approach to international engagement. Learning mobility and capacity building projects will contribute to improve staff and students’ skills, modernise our teaching system and in general our institution, and create better partnerships between the EU and education systems across the world. Precisely, we are convinced that European and international collaborative partnerships, mobility and cross-border cooperation will enhance creativity and innovation at all levels of education and training. By promoting intercultural dialogue and enhancing communicational skills, TSCC students will be better prepared to face the challenges of today’s world, and TSCC staff will be fully equipped to respond to those needs, dispensing educational material and resources more efficiently and effectively. The Modernisation Agenda for higher education sets five key priorities for higher education in the EU that TSCC intends to pursue:

  1. Increasing the number of higher education graduates.

As part of the Europe 2020 strategy, EU leaders have agreed a target that 40% of those aged 30-34 should have a higher education or equivalent qualification by 2020. In TSCC we support and encourage this target group to enrol and complete studies that will not only contribute to the fulfilment of their personal aspirations, but also and most of all will help them to find their way in the labour market.

  1. Improving the quality and relevance of teaching and learning.

High quality and relevant higher education is a priority for us. TSCC has a rigorous system of internal quality assurance, assessed by Quality Assurance Agencies which make external checks. International cooperation will enable TSCC to develop innovating learning approaches and teaching methods that will provide its students with valuable skills like flexibility, adaptability, organisation and initiative.

  1. Promoting mobility of students and staff and cross-border cooperation.

In TSCC we believe that going abroad to study or train helps people develop their professional, social and intercultural skills and increase their potential and efficiency. Developing these forms of mobility schemes and cross-border cooperation will ultimately help to improve TSCC quality at an educational level (learning outcomes, teaching methods), in research and in administrative functioning.

  1. Strengthening the “knowledge triangle”: linking education, research, and innovation.

TSCC aims at strengthening the ties between higher education and professional activities. TSCC BA in Theology includes one semester of traineeship (in educational institutions) for all students. Furthermore, regarding the field of research, TSCC aims at implementing a partnership with the Ministry of Education and Culture in order to collaborate with primary and secondary school teachers. Within the framework of the Erasmus+ Programme TSCC will have access to a wider range of opportunities and will enable it to set up, submit and present new research programmes in collaboration with partner institutions around the world.

  1. Creating effective governance and funding mechanisms for higher education.

TSCC is an autonomous institution that made it a priority to focus on innovation and fruitful outcomes at all the levels of its functioning (administrative, teaching / learning, and academic). Through the Programme, TSCC intends to seek for and provide diversified sources of funding for international projects and research broadening the perspectives at a national level and across the borders.