EUROPEAN POLICY STATEMENT

The National Academy of Music (NAM) "P. Vladigerov" has been working on the main synchronisation tasks defined in the Bologna Declaration since 1999-2000: three-stage mode of training, European system of credit transfer (since 2006), and European Diploma Supplement.

In November 2008 NAM applied for participation in the ERASMUS Sectoral Programme and in early 2009 it was approved. In the past 2009 and 2010, our goal was to sign bilateral agreements with related universities across Europe for the exchange of lecturers and students.

We developed a strategy for the successful implementation of the Programme. The main objective was to enable our students to develop their potential, to learn about European educational and concert practices, and to expand their horizons; as for the lecturers at NAM, they could benefit from the many existing creative contacts abroad.

The people responsible for the Programme were appointed: an ERASMUS coordinator, a Selection Committee, Faculty secretariats at NAM and current financial control. All interinstitutional agreements are signed by the Rector of NAM.

The ERASMUS coordinator is in charge of the identification of potential partners, correspondence and negotiations, contractual documentation between NAM and other institutions for higher education, individual contracts with students and teachers, all financial reports, monitoring of mobility.

The Selection committee reviews students' applications according to adopted and announced requirements, and is composed of the Deans of the three Faculties and the Vice Rector for Academic Affairs.

The Deans monitor the compliance of the Learning Agreement for student mobility with NAM's curriculum for the specified period and subjects, and endorse Academic transcripts and the Learning Agreement. An accountant monitors and keeps all contractual and financial documentation for the programme.

NAM's main policy in the period after 2009 has evolved around the desire not so much to increase the volume of contracts, but the signing of contracts only with the most reputable institutions for music education in Europe. Very often the partnership invitations come from foreign universities.

In NAM’s more than 90-year history there have been numerous creative proposals for cooperation with European and non-European institutions, due to the large number of NAM alumni with global careers, who have popularised the Bulgarian musical and pedagogical school. Until recently, many of them were hindered by lack of resources for the financing of activities. It is namely the ERASMUS programme that gives an adequate financial framework for the implementation of already existing creative contacts, and it is therefore unsurprising that we signed three contracts during the first year of operation of the programme - 2010-2011, nine in 2011-2012, and already about twenty in 2012-2013. Behind each of these contracts there are real contacts and plans for future cooperation. Geographically, the contracts cover all areas of the European Community - Bulgaria's neighbouring countries - Turkey and Romania; on the other hand - Austria, Germany, Belgium and Poland to the north and east; and France, Portugal, Spain, Italy to the west and south.

In NAM the implementation of ERASMUS student mobility is of primary importance. We developed a set of selection criteria in order to enable the best and linguistically prepared students to participate in mobility schemes. The participants are representatives of the three educational degrees, with priority given to Masters and PhD students. The criteria are posted on NAM's bulletin boards and on its website. The main documents - Application and Learning Agreement, are prepared very carefully with each individual student, and particular attention is paid to the part about credits required during mobility period. In accordance with the specificities of the musical art, a CD with performances of the student is being prepared and sent to the host institution, where the student undergoes a "second selection procedure." All documentation is prepared by the Coordinator and the Deans. During the mobility scheme the student receives help and guidance in finding suitable accommodation, and the student's insurance is being monitored. During the mobility scheme, the ERASMUS office is ready to respond to any issue or question that may arise. After returning to the home institution, the student provides a statement and an Academic transcript, according to which the accumulated credits are automatically recognised. Mobility is duly reflected in the Diploma Supplement as an integral part of the Diploma. Our desire for the future is for student mobility to expand, and to engage students in more large-scale projects, including scientific research.

Mobility of teaching staff under the ERASMUS programme is an excellent opportunity for developing of existing creative contacts, but also for seeking new avenues for exchange of educational experience and promotion of the Bulgarian musical tradition. Most of NAM's lecturers are fluent in one of the three most common languages of the Community, which contributes to the great success of the Master and teaching courses that they lead at our partnering institutions. We constantly receive proposals for new partnerships and initiatives within the programme. Some of the teaching courses of our lecturers will be published in the partnering countries, with the intention for the existing valuable contractual relationships to be furthered and strengthened, and to become a lasting tradition of educational, innovative, but also technical cooperation.  

Language Policy: Almost all students at the NAM have good linguistic training. There is a solid training in Italian (for singers), English, German and French for musicians offered at NAM. All foreign students enrolled in full-time study undergo a compulsory one-year Preparatory intensive course in Bulgarian. This is further implemented in the curriculum. Students arriving under the mobility scheme are eligible to enrol in the Bulgarian language courses, according to their level. In the selection procedure for outgoing students the requirement for linguistic training at a certain level (B1) is enshrined, thus students are also allowed to pass a linguistic examination at NAM for additional language training, which can be taken both within and outside the institution during the period prior to the start of the mobility scheme.

Naturally NAM also has numerous contacts with countries and institutions outside the EU, such as the United States, Brazil, the Russian Federation, South Korea, China, Macedonia and others, and it is from these countries that most of the foreign students enrolled in full-time study, as well as on short-term scholarships, come from. Our lecturers often receive invitations to conduct master classes and concert activity. It is only due to limited funding that these relationships haven't developed in accordance with the interest displayed.

 

 

 NAM does not currently participate in international cooperative projects neither within nor outside the EU. Despite that, we are actively seeking opportunities for inclusion of our institution as a partner, and also as a coordinator of regional projects (e.g. the Danube region) or research projects to develop new curricula. NAM already applied for participation in the ERASMUS Intensive Programme as a coordinator, which unfortunately did not commence. We will continue to explore the opportunities for initiation and involvement in such projects.

Participation in international programmes and in the ERASMUS Programme in particular contributes immensely to the development of the institution, to its opening to the best practices on the European and global levels, and the desire to provide better material, technical and programme conditions for modern education. This has given a strong MODERNISING impetus and also boosted the improvement of the QUALITY of training in the otherwise considered conservative musical institution. Very positive was also the impact of the presence of certain administrative and financial order in the programme.

ERASMUS provides the opportunity to study the practice of other institutions for higher education abroad - some with a long history - without the need for interruption of the training, for re-examinations and other related issues. While also taking into account the financial support, it is clear that ERASMUS has found a very good and mutually beneficial way for European universities to study the teaching practices of one another. This makes the international exchange of students and lecturers under the Programme particularly useful.

Although Bulgarian music and performing arts are well known worldwide and NAM's alumni had been receiving widespread acclaim before the start of the ERASMUS programme, the participation of our students and lectures gives them much wider and richer opportunities to establish contacts with view of THEIR FUTURE CAREERS as musicians, to gain insight into the ways of thinking and work practices in Europe, to promote the Bulgarian musical talent, to raise the profile of NAM as a leading musical institution in Bulgaria. This also helps ATTRACT MORE STUDENTS wishing to study in NAM.

 

Students return with broadened horizons, many new professional contacts, a lot of new ideas and plans for their future careers. Another advantage is their great IMPROVEMENT OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE SKILLS. They receive the opportunity to reassess their qualities and to affirm their professional confidence. As for many years NAM has been working "for export" and a great number of its graduates have established their careers abroad, the ERASMUS programme has greatly assisted this process. Through their participation in the Programme, our students’ COMPETITIVENESS on the European musical labour market has increased. They are also encouraged to participate in activities for acquisition of additional skills in the host institutions, which NAM is not in the position to offer at present. This increases the impact of the Programme.

At this stage the outgoing lecturers that participate in the ERASMUS programme are primarily those with extensive international experience and excellent knowledge of foreign languages. In our opinion, their activities in the foreign institutions for higher education have a huge ADVERTISEMENT EFFECT FOR THE BULGARIAN MUSICAL AND EDUCATIONAL SCHOOL among partners. Furthermore, it is a way for our lecturers to establish themselves again on the international scene; this contributes to their professional and pedagogical development and creates opportunities for them to gain recognition and receive invitations for future projects, both in terms of teaching and of performance.

NAM is also actively involved in state-level projects funded by the European Social Fund, which target the modernisation of education, the conduct of practices, electronic distance learning, and upgrade of equipment.