The 2019 selection results of the Capacity Building for Higher Education action of the Erasmus+ Programme (Action 2) demonstrate promising benefits for Partner Countries in which the HERE teams operate. The selection also demonstrates the potential to further explore policy themes that have been the focus of HERE activities in the past two years and looking forward to 2020.
In terms of projects awarded per regions covered by the HEREs: 20 were awarded to the Western Balkans, 20 to the Eastern Partnership, 15 to Central Asia, 34 to the Southern Mediterranean and 8 (cross-regional) projects to Russia.
While the majority of CBHE projects tend to be coordinated by EU universities, there has been an increase in Partner Country coordination. In the 2019 selection, an impressive 12 projects were coordinated by institutions in the Western Balkans and 15 in the Southern Mediterranean. However, only 5 projects in the Eastern Partnership were coordinated by Partner Country institutions and 2 in Central Asia.
In addition to numerous curriculum development projects, other themes stood out in the selection:
Internationalisation continues to be a cross-cutting priority, particularly when it comes to ehancing the quality and impact of it. Of note, from the 2019 selection, are the projects ‘Fostering Internationalization at Montenegrin HEIs through Efficient Strategic Planning’, ‘Quality development of international cooperation and project management’ (Kosovo/Albania) and ‘INTERnationalization at Home: Embedding Approaches and Structures to Foster Internationalization at Western Balkans’ (Regional Project coordinated by University of Tirana). A regional project for the Southern Med countries included ‘MEDiterranean countries: Towards Internationalisation at Home’. ‘Internationalising Master Programmes in Agriculture via English Medium Instruction’ (Russia, Moldova, Kazakhstan) stood out as a cross regional project.
Another theme that emerged as transversal in this selection was University – enterprise cooperation as well as innovation. ‘Enhancing Teaching, Learning and Graduate Employability through University-Enterprise Cooperation’ (Lebanon and Jordan) and ‘From university to labour market in the 21st Century: a step forward in work-based placements’ (Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan), were of note.
In line with a prominent HERE theme from 2018 was research capacity: Among those selected were ‘Improving REsearch capacities of Albanian higher education institutions in conservation and restoration of Cultural Heritage’ (Albania), ‘Enhancing Research Culture in Higher Education in Kosovo – ResearchCult’, ‘The development and implementation of PhD Curricula in ICT for Kosovo Education System / DI-PHDICTKES (coordinated by Linne University Sweden)’ and ‘Developing Research and InnoVation CapacitiEs in Albania and Kosovo’. In 2018, the SPHERE Team published a study on research capacity in the Western Balkans (link), which correlates closely to these E+ projects.
Also of mention on the theme of research capacity were: ‘Palestinian Research and Library Platform’, ‘ICU-Knowledge Triangle, Innovation: Reinforcing of Education- Research E- Health & Medical Links ‘ (Lebanon/Egypt), ‘The Development of Doctoral Education and Research Capacities of Kyrgyzstani Academia’ and ‘Establishment of training and research centers and Courses development on Intelligent Big Data Analysis in CA’ (regional Central Asian).
In terms of the meta-themes address by SPHERE in 2019, several newly awarded projects are to be watched: On social inclusion - ‘Curriculum Innovation for Social Inclusion’ (Georgia – coordinated by Tblisi State University) and on recognition, ‘Qualifications recognition support for Ukrainian universities’ and ‘Reinforcing access to cross border employment at Palestinian higher education institutions – PHEIs’.
The HERE are encourage to look at projects results from the CBHE action and establish links with the work of their HERE teams, in order to better shape and implement policy. The impact of capacity building projects was a central theme of the 2018 HERE Annual Conference.