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INTQUANT: Creating an International Semester for Master Programmes in Quantitative Finance

4 - Quality education; Teaching Projects; 2014; 2015; 2016; 2017

Programme: Strategic Partnerships. Strategic Partnerships are transnational projects designed to develop and share innovative practices and promote cooperation, peer learning, and exchanges of experiences in the fields of education, training, and youth.

The project “Creating an International Semester for Master Programmes in Quantitative Finance” (INTQUANT) establishes a strategic partnership in finance and risk management between 4 higher education institutions (HEI) throughout Europe. The consortium consists of the University of Applied Sciences bfi Vienna (UAS, coordinator), the University of Bologna (UNIBO), the University of Economics in Katowice (UEK) and the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi (UAIC).

In a nutshell INTQUANT aims to enhance the quality and attractiveness of international student mobility in the master programmes in quantitative finance at the participating HEI. High quality mobility is one of the core goals of the Bologna Process and provides substantial added value: it enhances competences, knowledge and skills; fosters internationalisation of higher education; and promotes employability through international experience of graduates. However, study programmes in quantitative finance face particular challenges when trying to internationalise. While many HEI run broad programmes in business administration, the number of focused programmes in finance and risk management is small. As a result it is often difficult to find appropriate partner HEI for quality student exchange, which starkly contrasts with a high demand for international mobility options among students. In addition we observed a great interest to specialize in a specific subject area towards the end of the study period.

Against this background we aim to:

  • enhance the quality of student mobility through clearly structured mobility paths and specialization options, which are embedded directly in the curricula at all HEI
  • make mobility accessible to participants with fewer opportunities (e.g. career parallel students) through newly developed short-term mobility options
  • address the increasing demand of students to further specialize towards the end of the study programmes through four attractive specialization options
  • foster the labour market relevance of the involved study programmes and to enhance ties with the world of work through direct involvement of the financial industry
  • develop, test and implement a new practice oriented course concept (including company case studies)
  • reduce barriers for mobility through an efficient recognition of qualifications and credits gained abroad

Activities and methodology:

In order to achieve these objectives we developed a detailed work plan. The 4th semester will be reformed at each HEI to reach a harmonized structure:

  • A course on “Advanced Topics” with a different specialization at each HEI (6 ECTS)
  • The master thesis (18 ECTS)
  • An exam and/or additional courses as required by local standards (6 ECTS)

Based on this harmonized structure two levels of mobility will be offered: The basic level consists of short-term mobility for the course “Advanced Topics” to one of the participating institutions (6 ECTS, different specializations to choose). The extended level targets the full semester (30 ECTS) and leads to a double/joint degree.

As for the course in “Advanced Topics” each HEI will offer a different specialization path linked to its institutional profile and in cooperation with a local industry representative in the given field:

  • UAS: Advanced Topics in Asset Management
  • UNIBO: Advanced Topics in Quantitative Methods in Finance
  • UEK: Advanced Topics in Insurance Management
  • UAIC: Advanced Topics in Bank Risk Management

Envisaged results:

  • 4 adjusted curricula in quantitative finance
  • 3 new double degree agreements (UAIC with UAS, UEK and UNIBO)
  • 3 adjusted double/joint degree agreements (update of existing agreements between UAS, UEK and UNIBO)
  • A newly developed course concept for a series of intensive programmes
  • 2 editions of the pilot intensive programme on “Advanced Topics” (to prepare the ground for the international course “Advanced Topics” with different specialization options)
  • 1 edition of the reformed master programmes at each partner HEI (start in the winter term 2015/2016, including 4 intensive programmes)
  • 6 case study reports from the courses in “Advanced Topics” as open educational resource
  • A final conference and 4 local dissemination workshops to showcase results of the projects and reach key target groups
  • A project website for communication and dissemination

Selected impacts:

  • On students: enhanced ability to work in international teams and to transform theoretical know-how into practice; increased access to mobility; higher employability
  • On the HEI: increased quality and relevance of education; enhanced competitiveness; strengthened HEI network; closer links to the industry
  • On the industry: closer links to HEI; direct contact to possible future employees
  • Beyond the consortium: promotion of the EU’s modernisation and internationalisation agenda in higher education; better trained graduates on the labour market; free access to the developed open educational resources.

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