Third meeting of all Partners institutions participating in Joint Tempus project “Restructuring of Study Programme in Architecture to Long-cycle Integrated Master in line with EU standards” was held in the Main Building of Riga technical University in Riga, Latvia, on 30th and 31st of May 2013.
The subjects of the meeting were:
Analysis of the new curriculum on faculties in Podgorica and Kosovska Mitrovica (comments and suggestions),
Exchange of experience on the entrance conditions (tour de table discussion),
Exchange of experience on the students’ workshops (tour de table discussion),
Exchange of experience on the students’ practical placement (tour de table discussion),
Exchange of experience on the students’ mobility (tour de table discussion),
Exchange of experience on the administration and library (tour de table discussion) and
Discussion of the future priorities, forthcoming activities and dynamics.
Meeting was organized by EU Tempus partners from Technical University in Riga, Faculty for Architecture and Urban Planning.
TEMPUS Meeting, 30th of May, Riga
Following participants were present on the Meeting: Prof. Dr Leonids Ribickis, Rector of Technical University in Riga; Prof. Dr Uldis Sukovskis, Vice Rector of Technical University in Riga; Prof. DrUgisBratuskins, Dean, Prof. Dr Sandra Treija, Ass. Prof. Mgr. Aldis Lapins, Lecturer Mgr. Ieva Mikelsone and Evita Serjogina, all from Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planing in Riga; Maris Prombergs from Contemporary Architecture Information Centre in Latvia; Ass. Prof. Dr Alenka Fikfak from Faculty of Architecture in Ljubljana; Prof. Dr Ioannis Kiousopoulos from Technological Educational Institute in Athens; Ass. Prof. Dr Dragan Komatina, Prof. Dr Goran Radovic, Irena Rajkovic, Msc Ema Alihodzic and Sanja Paunovic, all from Faculty of Architecture in Podgorica and Prof. Dr Nebojsa Arsic, Dean, Prof. Dr Velimir Dutina, M. Arch. Branislav Folic and Dr Saja Kosanovic, all from Faculty of Technical Sciences in Kosovska Mitrovica.
Meeting was opened by the Host, Prof. Dr Ugis Bratuskins, who welcomed all partners. The word was then given to Prof. Dr Leonids Ribickis, Rector of Riga Technical University. Prof. Dr Ribickis expressed his pride about cooperation with international institutions of high education and about projects that are coming to Technical University in Riga. Prof. Dr Uldis Sukovskis, Vice Rector of Riga Technical University, added in following speech that the subject one and other similar projects are of great importance for the development of high education. Projects which present international cooperation and exchange of experience are very important, Dr Sukovskis said.
Following the opening and introduction given by Prof. Dr Ugis Bratuskins and Ass. Prof. Dr Dragan Komatina, our Coorinator, Irena Rajkovic, in front of the Faculty of Architecture in Podgorica, presented in detail a proposal for their new curriculum. Representatives from Faculty of Technical Sciences in Kosovska Mitrovica did the same by sharing printed version of Draft on new curriculum among all present participants.
Discussion, related to the exposed proposals for new study programmes, followed. Prof. Dr Ugis Bratuskins gave an answer to the dilemma regarding the development of two separate directions in the last, 5th year of Integrated Master studies in architecture, Architectural design and Urban Design. It was concluded as impossible to issue the same diploma for two differently directed studies, because of EU legislation. Urban planning and design are not regulated within EU directive on regulated professions, but the schools may have more urbanism courses in their study curriculum, as long as the urban questions are the part of design task. If the school offers two different directions, then also different diplomas upon graduation must be issued. Dr Sandra Treija stated that curriculum needs to strike a balance and representation of all subjects and that specialization in specific fields is for doctoral studies. Students in the basic studies shouldn’t be limited in sense of enhancing just one narrow field through curriculum, since that would consequently limit their ability for employment. Dr Alenka Fikfak added information about Faculty of Architecture in Ljubljana, where they have two separate study programmes – Architecture and Urban planning, both starting from first year of studies and both carrying separate diplomas and titles. This division, however, depends on capacities in subject institution.
Dr Ioannis Kiousopoulos suggested that subjects in new study programme need to be set in a way which allows students mobility. Dr Nebojsa Arsic spoke about the number of classes for practical work and for workshops, considering them to be crucial for the development of practical skills. As a potential problem of implementation of 5 year integrated master study programme, Dr Arsic sees legislation on national level. Dr Saja Kosanovic spoke about the programme in Kosovska Mitrovica, giving short comparison between the current and planned new study curriculum. She emphasized the importance of electives, which start from third year and are chosen and organized in a way to allow students to profile their knowledge themselves, until a certain extent.
Maris Prombergs, a board member of the Association of Latvian Anthropologists and Director of Bizet Movies Theater, gave a presentation of students’ workshops. At the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning in Riga, students’ workshops are not held as regular part of the curriculum, but are strongly recommended. Workshops, by Latvian experience, are usually connected with environmental social subjects and are multidisciplinary. The workshop presented by Maris Prombergs was an international one, with the duration of two weeks. Based on conducted workshop, students on or from (international students) RTU Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning in Riga receive 3 ECTS; the acceptance of given credits, however, will depend on home institution.
The workshop presented on the meeting was held during the 2012 summer school Event City. It took place in Cesis, a mid-sized town in the central part of Latvia. Its main theme evolved around the interaction of events and rituals with urban environment and society. Subject of the 2012 summer workshop was the abandoned school in a relation to a square as public space. The square was the field of intervention and the school was used as a drawing office and practical work preparatory building. Detailed information about the 2012 workshop can be found on their official web site: http://cargocollective.com/trusummerschool/2012-Event-City
The most important facts about workshops, stated Mr Prombergs, are: interdisciplinary and international character, practical work itself and a presentation of a practical product to wide public, often involving TV, which, as a result, provokes public. In addition to practical part, workshops should include lectures by eminent experts to support the theoretical part. In Latvian experience, organization and holding the workshops require strong connections between the school and local authority. The organizers must submit a project proposal to the local authorities. Organization of the workshop is a long and complex process, which should start even a year before planned term for workshop holding. Students that apply for the workshop shouldn’t be at the first year of studies. After being accepted, they pay a participation fee and are provided with accommodation and food, close to the site. Workshop project are, in large scale, financed by sponsors. To attend international workshop, students from Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning in Riga may apply for Erasmus Life Long Learning program.
Participants agreed that the workshops present important part of architects’ education. Dr Sandra Treija brought a very interesting question about workshops: What is more important in workshop, process or result?
Dr Alenka Fikfak shared experience on workshops at Faculty of Architecture in Ljubljana. Their faculty is recognizedon international scale by performed workshops and applied teaching methods. At Faculty of Architecture in Ljubljana, workshops are listed as subjects in second, third and fourth year of study. The content and scope of the workshop can be different: architectural, urban or design based, ranging from an installation to a small scale building. Sometimes the workshop is done within the design studio; if this is the case, then the real project should be done for the municipality, under the supervision of tutors responsible for the outcome. Tutors on the workshops come from different disciplines and the organization is left to them. They decide what students should do, where the workshop should take place and which methods are going to be used. Workshops at UL Faculty of Architecture are financed by the school and sponsors.
Mgr. Arch. Ieva Mikelsone started the discussion on next topic of the meeting – practical placement. She presented a model of students practice existing at the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning in Riga. Practical placement on the mentioned Faculty is a mandatory integral part of studies that lasts for 1,5 year and is divided into three sections. First part has duration of 64 hours, second 124 and third of 128 hours. The practice hours must be fulfilled during the working days, parallel with other subjects in the school or at once, full time. After each part, student needs to make a study – a book, in a form of defined rules, as an evidence of completed level.
Practical placement in Riga is done in the office. It is based on a contract signed between the student, faculty and the firm where the placement will take place. Students can choose whether to conduct practical placement in Latvia or abroad, by applying for program Erasmus for practice. They are also allowed to choose among listed national firms.
On the end of the practical placement, students in Riga must conduct final work and pass final placement exam, in front of commission consisted of professors from the faculty and representatives from practice firms. Upon passing the practical placement test, students will receive 39 ECTS and, if all other obligations are fulfilled, may start working on their diploma work.
Dr Ioannis Kiousopoulos explained the practice in Greece, where practical placement is conducted after the 8th semester. To complete set conditions regarding placement, Greek students must work for 6 months in the real market, i.e. in certain design office, administrative institution etc.
Dr Alenka Fikfak pointed out that the practical placement present integral of the curriculum in Ljubljana. It is combined with subject Structures 1. The same applies to other two practical works, that are following subjects Structures 2 and 3.
At the end, Dr Ugis Bratuskins summarized the meeting, thanked the participants for the detailed and useful remarks, and brought agenda for the next day’s meeting. After the meeting and lunch break, all the participants went on a tour to new Faculty of Architecture of Riga.
On the second day of the meeting, the first topic was Exchange of experience on the entrance conditions. Through the presentation titled “Between arts and technical science”, Dr Ugis Bratuskins explained enrollment procedure at the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning in Riga. To enroll to the Faculty, students must obtain centralized examination results (grade no lower than E) in mathematics and physics or foreign language, valid for whole Riga Technical University. They also have to pass separate entrance exam in drawing, especially prepared for Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning. This drawing exam is divided into 3 parts, each lasting 1,5 hours: portrait, architectural detail of choice and spatial study – geometrical composition. In total, entrance exam for Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning in Riga lasts two days. Until this year, points achieved in first part of exam (mathematics plus physics of language) and in drawing were equally balanced, but there may be a change of this practice, due to the lack of spatial talent among some students that at the same time achieve very good results in mathematics. Points from high school are considered only if there is equality and the choice has to be made among those students that achieve same number of points on entrance exam.
This year, Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning in Riga will enroll 45 students in the first year, 20 financed from the budget and other 25 self-financed. The number of students that apply for the studies, however, is significantly higher.
In Greece, Dr Ioannis Kiousopoulos said, the entrance procedure is based on the principles of favorite faculties and the number of points (achieved on entrance exam plus obtained in high school). Entrance exams are conducted simultaneously for all students and on all faculties and are divided in 5 fields. In some specific areas, as is architecture, an additional test is performed.
On Faculty of Architecture in Ljubljana, Dr Alenka Fikfak explained, entrance exam is divided into three parts: drawing (composition drawing, imagination drawing and organization of space drawing), descriptive geometry and mathematics and oral examination – interview. The points are divided in favor of drawing, while the oral part is worth of 25% of total exam points. The importance of the interview is found in the fact that sometimes the same candidate shows big differences in quality of responses in different parts of entrance exam; in such cases, interview has the crucial significance. The overall entrance points are divided in the way that exam is worth 80% and high school scores 20% of points. The entrance procedure is led by 10 different commissions.
Dr Saja Kosanovic presented a model for enrollment on Faculty of Technical Sciences in Kosovska Mitrovica. This year Faculty will enroll 50 students in the first year of bachelor studies, 45 financed from budget and remained 5 will finance the studies themselves. Exam consists of two parts: mathematics and freehand drawing model and composition. Rank list is formed according to the general success achieved in high school and the results achieved on the entrance exam.
Model for entrance examination at the Faculty of Architecture in Podgorica was presented by Sanja Paunovic. The two-day entrance exam consists of two parts, where the first part involves drawing freehand geometric composition, and the second part is a combined entrance examination test in mathematics, history, architecture and perceptive logic. The number of registered candidates is 60, of which 30 are financed from budget and 30 self-financed students. Compared with other partner institutions, the number of students is quite large, and the question is whether it is in line with the needs of the market and the state.
Following topic on the second day of the meeting was related to the mobility of students, teaching and non-teaching staff. Presentation on the topic was held by Evita Serjoginasa from the Technical University in Riga. She pointed out the quality of Erasmus Mundus program through which the most common and most successful performing student exchanges. Serjogina through diagrams and tabular statistics presented the students, teaching and non-teaching staff mobility. She showed the statistics of the top destinations when it comes to exchange, stating that it is not only important to send students to faculties outside the country, but also to bring students from abroad. All exchange conditions and terms are strictly defined in the Agreement for the exchange of students. In addition, there is an office that helps connections with universities in the region and internationally. Most exchanges are occurring from the third year of studies, and last from one semester up to three years. Average number of exchanging students at university level is ten per year. In addition to the students’ mobility, the mobility of teachers and non-teaching staff also plays an important role. What seems as the lack is that there is not enough mobility for teaching staff; this occursbecause all are very much involved in classes at the faculty during the semesters.
After the presentation, a discussion followed. There was a concern expressed about the matter of students’ mobility: some students, after performed mobility, are not able to catch up with their regular studies. The cause of this negative occurrence is lack of synchronization among different school curriculums. By the words of Dr Ugis Bratuskins, incompatibility of programs can lead to problems of equalizing and recognizing quality, and further to a range of administrative problems, especially if there is an imbalance in the subjects at the faculties. So far, cooperation has been successfully carried out in the cases where students involved in mobility choose those subjects from offered list which have similar curriculum to the home’s institution, even not carrying the identical name. Prof. Bratuskins stated that the traveling and sharing experiences is crucial to the process of education for the future architect.
In Ljubljana, Dr Alenka Fikfak said, students in mobility program are separated from regular students, all for better control of their work. Dr Fikfak sees as problem in matter of mobility lack of foreign language knowledge.
The last topic that was discussed on the meeting was Organization of the university library. Dr Sandra Treija said that the library on the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning in Riga is only a small part of the network library belonging to Technical University in Riga, but it has a lot of quality titles that are frequently updated. Every teacher, twice per year, suggests a list of new titles that should be included in Library’s fund. The Library Council then decides about the procurement. The library has a separate budget. Special attention is given to the protection of copyrights, and thus students often use literature that is digitized in a library, not printed copies. Especially important is the central library where catalogs of all libraries in Latvia can be found.
Administration has a central web site which provides students with all necessary information. Professors are required to upload all needed info about every subject they teach: content of the course, schedule of the classes, announcements etc. The web site (ortus.tru.lv) can be accesses through obtained password – for staff and students only.
The meeting was concluded by Dr Dragan Komatina, who thanked everyone for the presence and involvement in the two-day meeting. He presented the following activities and responsibilities in the project and announced the next joint meeting would be held in Ljubljana in October 2013.
After the meeting, the hosts organized a guided bus tour through Riga.
Meeting in Riga was very useful for us. Professor Ugis Bratuskins, Dean of the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning, our host, provided us with great insight into the teaching practice in Riga. New gained experience and knowledge on mentioned issues will be of great help to us while defining in detail our new school programme.