MEF University (MEF) is a non-profit, endowment-supported state-recognized university in Istanbul, Turkey, established in 2012 by Dr. İbrahim Arıkan Educational and Scientific Research Support Foundation. MEF opened for teaching in 2014 with the mission of graduating internationally competitive forward-thinking students and bringing together leading research-oriented scholars who will make globally significant contributions to science and technology, and their professions fields. MEF encompassed five faculties and two graduate schools, has close to 200 academic staff, and has grown in six years to an institution with around 4000 students in 15 first cycle programmes and ten second cycle programmes. MEF is known for its international outlook, high academic standards, dynamic and accessible management, and for responding to the requirements of the current generation with state-of-the-art academic programs and innovative technology-enhanced student-centred teaching methods.
All academic programs at MEF have been designed in accordance with the requirements of the Bologna Process and European Higher Education Area. The ECTS is the internal and only credit allocation system. The degree structures and the learning outcomes been defined in accordance to the EQF, QF-EHEA and Turkish National Higher Education Qualification Framework, and in strict adherence to international and national accreditation standards. Five academic programs in the Faculty of Engineering are going through international engineering ABET accreditation process as we speak, and the Faculty of Education has began equivalent independent accreditation process nationally. All of the other faculties have benchmarked their programs towards future accreditation and are waiting for the program maturity to start their applications.
The Erasmus programme has a central role in MEF’s overall institutional strategy for internationalisation and excellence. Starting from internationalisation at home and individual mobility periods through exchange of knowledge in education, joint curriculum development and capacity-building in higher education, nurturing of digital and multilingual skills to embracing common values and encouragement of civic engagement, the Erasmus programme contributes to MEF’s aim of being an active participant in building the European Higher Education Area and mission to graduate internationally competitive and employable students and to bring together scholars who collaborate at global level.
We reaffirm our firm adherence to the principles of Erasmus Charter and fully endorse the principles of non-discrimination, transparency and full and equitable access to participants from all backgrounds, environmentally friendly practises and promotions of civic engagement and active citizenship, all of which are founding values of MEF University. MEF University was established to be an accessible institution to a broad cross-section of the society. All students benefit from the institutional scholarship policy in form of tuition-waivers and in-need scholarships, and currently the average scholarship percentage is 63%. Non-discrimination and equal access policy are part of the fundamental principles of the institution and are fully implemented both in education and employment. Transparency and full and equitable access will be the guiding principles in selection of mobility participants.
MEF’s institutional strategy for internationalisation and excellence seeks to be multifaceted and its intention to be a dynamic participant in all three Key Actions of the Erasmus programme. MEF also places special importance of being geographically versatile and plans to engage in Erasmus activities with both programme and partner countries.
Learning mobility, in the forms of study and traineeship mobility for students and teaching and training mobility for staff has the strongest tradition and is actively in place. MEF sees student mobility as an essential part of its educational effort to cultivate world citizens and aspires to make this experience accessible to all, including those with fewer opportunities. Student mobility for study periods and teaching mobility for staff is always based on inter-institutional agreements. The ECTS course information package, including grading system and distribution information, is online and constantly updated. The credit recognition for learning outcomes achieved during a mobility period is fully automatic. Learning Agreements are approved before the mobility and once the Transcript of Records has been received from the partner institution, a Recognition Document is prepared and the courses during mobility are entered to the student’s MEF academic transcript and Diploma Supplement (DS) with their original codes, names and credits and counted towards the degree requirements. Traineeships, both mandatory and voluntary, also carry credit value, entered on the participants’ academic records following the same procedure. By virtue of a Senate resolution, credit can be attributed to learning outcomes achieved distance/online learning, enabling virtual or blended mobility. The DS is issued automatically, in English, and free-of-charge to all MEF students at the time of graduation. MEF University warmly welcomes the European Student Card initiative and the Erasmus+ mobile App, to have the course information and exchange of Learning Agreements and Transcripts of Records digitalized with all partner institutions. Mobility agreements for staff teaching or training are always prepared and approved by both home and host institution before the mobility, and a certificate of participation is required after the mobility.
MEF is experienced in Key Actions 2 and 3 through one capacity building in higher education project now in its third year with partners from three programme countries and Russia and China as partner countries, a pending proposal for a knowledge alliance and an earlier submission for Dialogue between young people and policymakers under KA3, and is especially well-positioned with its knowledge and connections in both the academic departments and units such as Professional Development, Sponsored Projects Office, Centre for Research and Best Practices in Teaching and Learning, Dean of Students (extra-curriculum activities, student clubs and civic engagement) to engage in an increasing number of cooperation and policy development partnership. These projects will greatly contribute to MEF’s vision to act as a change agent in modernisation of higher education, nationally and internationally, and to its quest to seek excellence in teaching and learning. Staff mobility participation and project writing is recognized as career merit for both the academic and administrative staff, and recording to the annual faculty survey or staff performance evaluation, respectively.
MEF’s quantitative indicators for individual student mobility, for both study and traineeship, have been set formally in a Senate resolution: each academic program being obliged to offer mobility opportunities to at least 10% of the student cohort, with the target of each program reaching 25%. Meeting the targets is constantly monitored and reported to the academic higher decision making bodies and the indicators are a part of the university strategic plan’s quality assurance assessment. As to the staff mobility for teaching and training, priority is always given to first-time participants, and the university academic and administrative leadership has clearly communicate to all units that they would like to see each unit to take the advantage of the opportunities the Erasmus programme offers at least once during the project timeline. For both, there is full readiness in existing partnership to achieve the targets in student mobility as of 2021 and in staff teaching and training by 2027. We would like to see the number of inbound student and staff mobility to increase, and special efforts in form of improved dissemination of information and support for mobility participants will be undertaken. We expect to submit a number of cooperation and policy development project proposals every year under KA2 and KA3, with the aim of being granted at least one new project annually, bringing the total to seven projects by 2017. MEF is a young institution and relatively small in size, so actions under European Universities and Joint Master Degrees we foresee as mid-to-long-term objectives under the programme duration.
MEF pays great attention to the quality and sustainability of its partnerships. Each new partnership is vetted carefully and there is constant evaluation of the existing partnerships. The participant and recognition surveys on individual mobility are a vital tool in this process, and the each project’s final report will be shared with all of the stakeholders. In the long-term, another indicator for a successful mobility in case of student participants is if they will proceed to continue their 2nd cycle studies or professional careers abroad, statistics of which we closely follow. For projects under KA2 and KA3, an important measure will be whether the project will have a continuation in some other form deepening the cooperation and/or new initiatives are brought forth with the same partner institutions. The International Office (IO) at MEF University carries the main responsibility for promoting, implementing and evaluating the Erasmus programme activities. The IO was established and the institutional strategy for internationalisation adopted before the university opened for teaching, exemplifying how much in the core of the founding principles internationalisation is at MEF. Reporting directly to the Rector, staffed with career professionals, the IO is in constant communication with the partner institutions, offers support services to both incoming and outgoing mobility participants, and brings together all of the elements of various Erasmus programme activities with its interaction with the students, academic departments and administrative units, of the latter particularly the strategic planning and budgeting unit with its designated staff for Erasmus related issues.