Educational Process

Do We Need More Flexible Structure in Masters Programs?

Mariana MocanuBucharest (RO), November 2021 - Mariana Mocanu, a full professor who has completed the European Habilitation degree, was head of the Computer Science Department at the University Politehnica of Bucharest from 2016 to 2020. She is currently the president of the QA Commission of the University Senate and a member of the Faculty Council. She is also in charge of the "eGovernance" masters study program and participates in the development of the ERASMUS Knowledge Alliance "IT in Aviation" project. Her presentation at OEB Global is entitled "Engineering Masters Studies between Teaching Challenges and Society 4.0 Realities".

Where do you see the greatest disconnect between today's teaching challenges and the realities of Society 4.0?
Mariana Mocanu:
The educational process is based on the accumulation of competencies and abilities during a study cycle (2 to 4 years). Industry wants specific skills that are applicable from the first day of employment and based on current technologies.
In many fields during the masters studies programs, universities want to deepen the concepts specific to the field, while companies want to obtain skills to use information technology that will bring more productivity. In this way the student's creativity is largely inhibited.
The structure of masters programs is still a rigid one due to the rigors imposed by the accreditation authorities, which does not allow flexibility in the studies programs. Companies want faster adaptation of study programs to current requirements and problems.

What can universities do to counteract this?
Mariana Mocanu:
Universities should have strategic partners for each specific masters program to offer help in the design of the programs and to provide applied practice of the competencies and skills acquired. Financial support of the programs would allow the university to organize activities with small groups of students.
Universities sustained by companies should discuss with accreditation authorities to permit more flexible structure of masters programs. Special attention should be paid to interdisciplinary programs.
Study programs should allow the inclusion of work in companies as a flexible part of the curricula.

What are the conclusions that these realities are leading teachers and students respectively to draw?
Mariana Mocanu:
Completing a masters program is necessary to complete tertiary education, but it sometimes requires compromises from both students and the university. When masters students are hired, a level of understanding from the company is required in order to complement their studies.