Amidst the ever-evolving education landscape, flexible study programs offer students the opportunity to avail the larger benefits of education and learning. Flexible study programs serve as a pedagogical approach in serving the evolving academic requirements of students. It results in maximum knowledge retention and produces better results.
Educational institutes need to incorporate flexibility in their curriculum to help students gain the advantage of learning at their own pace. A prime example of such an institution is International University of Sarajevo (IUS). At IUS, the flexible nature of the study program is the key advantage—making it one of the extensively recognized universities. The university envisions becoming an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. It strives to be a center of excellence and quality through the shared efforts of its founders, academic and administrative staff, students, and all stakeholders.
Located in Sarajevo, IUS was founded by the Foundation for Education Development Sarajevo and was inaugurated in the academic year of 2004-2005. In its short yet intense history of 17 years, the university has grown from a meager beginning to hosting thousands of students and staff on the campus. It grew from merely 20 employees and 100 students to constituting over 200 staff serving the needs of close to 2000-degree seekers at all three cycles of education under five faculties and 28 programs, comprising an international student body coming from 45 countries. As a foundation university, IUS provides local students with various scholarship options since its inception.
Plethora of Study Opportunities
IUS constitutes the following faculties:
- Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences (FENS),
- Faculty of Business and Administration (FBA),
- Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS),
- Faculty of Law (FLW),
- Faculty of Education (FEDU).
The university offers study programs in Engineering, Business, Humanities, Social Sciences, Education, and Law. IUS’s flexible nature of study programs enables students to choose their own path to development through faculty, program, and free electives, comprising 40-60 % of each program’s curriculum. Therefore, two Finance graduates will have two different transcripts based on their personal choices. The university also provides students the option to choose a minor along with their major.
IUS uses English as the language of instruction and communication. For students without English proficiency, the university seeks them to attend a one-year intensive English Language Program organized by English Language School (ELS).
Incorporation of Diverse Techniques
IUS’s ECON Lab offers students the chance to model various programs in individual, group, and class simulations with fully licensed programs such as SPSS. The university incorporates information technologies into teaching methods for the finance and accounting field for focusing on in-class utilization of different software solutions. For instance, incorporation of technological stock market simulations in courses related to equity markets to allow students to have a better command of related software. Additionally, pursuing IUS’s Financial and Managerial accounting courses helps spark students’ interest in using other information technologies that would help them make better investment decisions.
Spearheaded by Prodigious Minds
At the center of IUS, Zuhal Guvener spearheads the university as the International Relations Office Manager. Zuhal has been a part of IUS since its inception and harbors the privilege to see it grow into the burgeoning institution it is today. She was initially appointed as an English teacher at the university. Over time, she became a coordinator and later a vice-principal at the English language School. In 2016, Zuhal was promoted to the International Relations Office—where she first worked as an officer and has been serving as its manager for the past three years.
Cherishing Multicultural Environment
IUS welcomes students from all over the world. The university cherishes its international and multicultural environment. With students from 45 countries, it prioritizes providing equal opportunities for everyone and to make the students feel at home. The university mandates the exercise of its zero-tolerance policy on segregation and discrimination by the academicians and the institution as a whole. Moreover, all students are free to express their cultural or religious background either through their clothes, food, lifestyle, and other choices. For international students, IUS offers foreign language courses (Bosnian or Turkish) as part of its core course curricula that facilitate their acclimatization period in Sarajevo and at the university.
Array of Extra-Curricular Activities
Along with providing beneficial academic opportunities, IUS offers a wide range of extra-curricular activities to the students. The university’s Students and Career Center organize various clubs. It includes the sports clubs such as volleyball and basketball which are played on campus basketball courts or indoor sports halls, a very popular trekking club on the nearby mountains and hills surrounding Sarajevo, and many more.
IUS Charity Club exerts efforts to provide humanitarian aid to those in need within the bounds of its possibilities and without discrimination against race, religion, or gender. For students of Psychology, Architecture, Visual Arts and Communication Design, Law, International Relations, the university hosts active clubs where the students promote activities of their study program and engage other students in a range of events. The university’s Research and Development Center is also available on campus for all students to do their practical classes and research be that in genetics and bioengineering labs or physics, mechatronics, or electrical engineering areas.
Grooming Future Prospects
The ever-changing finance industry can often intimidate students and discourage them from pursuing potential jobs or internship opportunities. To overcome this obstacle, IUS adopted several different teaching techniques. Some of the examples include: inviting guest lecturers from the real sector, sharing success stories of our alumni from the real industry, discussing current local and international news from the finance sector at the beginning of each class, providing contemporary examples, working on case studies, surveying the employers regularly to establish the list and prioritization of skills most in-demand, and adopting the syllabus in a way that would aid students in developing these skills. In addition, according to the curriculum, senior year students are obligated to complete the internship.
Steering Past Challenges
During the COVID-19 pandemic, IUS initiated a revolutionary step and introduced Cisco Webex Video Conference System. With its technical accomplishment, the university became the first higher education institution in the region performing at world standards in education and educational technologies. The Cisco Webex system turned distance learning application into a structure that nearly perfectly emulated face-to-face education and maximized communication between academicians, students, and administrative staff. Moreover, IUS became part of the Horizon 2020 COVIRNA project. Led by the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), the project aimed at fostering the development of a novel diagnostic test to predict COVID-19 outcomes for patients and improve cooperation between European research institutions to strengthen the response to the pandemic. Zuhal asserts that the period of Covid revealed the importance of a flexible mind—in both dealing with new challenges as they arise but also to remain resilient mentally and emotionally in a landscape of turmoil. She adds, “We expect this to be the lesson for the future, and try our best to impart in our students an awareness of developing mental and cognitive skills of flexibility and resilience.”