In July and August 2011, AITA as part of a consortium of 9 organizations and universities from Norway, Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia applied for the HERD program (Programme for Higher Education, Research and Development) of the Norwegian government with a draft proposal entitled Academic Exchange for Progress. The partner of AITA from Albania is the University of Tirana with the Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Informatics at the Faculty of Economy. In November, the decision making board chose this draft proposal as one of the winners for funding under the framework of HERD program.
The first phase of the project which will have a several-month of planning period and will be used to find out the specific needs for skills development in the sector of information and communication technology in Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia, is expected to begin soon. Academic Exchange for Progress is a three year project and finishes on 31.12.2014.

What is Academic Exchange for Progress?
AEP provides a platform through which students of Informatics from universities involved in the application (in Albania by the Faculty of Economics, University of Tirana) will have the opportunity to attend for a semester lectures in Norway (at Gjovik University) on themes that are of interest to member companies of AITA (in the case of Albania). The project will associate this opportunity of one semester in Norway with the opportunity of working in a company which is specialized in an area that is of interest to members of AITA. Students will perform the combined semester with practical work and return to their country of origin to continue with studies while being obliged to work as interns in member companies of AITA for a period of 6 months.
At the same time also scientific research in the field of information technology will take place with the involvement of the universities partners in this project (in the case of Albania: Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Informatics, Faculty of Economics, University of Tirana). The universities will also have to work on the improvement of their curricula in IT field under the example of Gjovik University. In a middle-term perspective this is expected to lead to the improvement of the teaching quality and the quality of students and graduates from this faculty.

– Enhancements in teaching curriculum to meet expectations in future ICT priorities
– Improving students’ and professors’ skills and practical industrial experience to meet expectations of short “time to market” cycle (for R&D activities within priorities according the country’s readiness)
– To provide actual know-how transfer from Norway to MAK within the identified priority fields
– To foster business cooperation among Norwegian and MAK industrial partners
– Contribution to capacity building of R&D facilities in MAK
– Lifelong learning improvements in ICT field

Project consortium
Project consortium consists of:

The role and benefits for AITA and members of AITA in the project.
AITA will be the project manager for Albania while AITA member companies will directly benefit from the opportunity to receive specialized staff that will work for them as interns and will bring theoretical and practical knowledge gained in Norway. The member companies could in middle-term also benefit from the improved curriculum in the branch of Applied Informatics at the Faculty of Economics at University of Tirana.

Cooperation with universities
Under this project example, AITA intends to intensify cooperation with other universities in Albania that have branch studies in the fields of ICT with the objective to start similar projects that promise to enable a closer cooperation between the academic and the business world.

Study trip to Norway for the Balkan partners, 7 – 11 October 2012, Gjøvik, Norway