WP2.
Human Capacity Building - International Relations Staff

The objective of WP2 is to provide the staff of PC IROs (technical coordinators and technicians) with managerial expertise and specific skills and tools in several thematic areas related to the efficient administration of IROs and development of IR and IC policies and services. This will be achieved through a specific training prepared and delivered by EU HEIs staff members participating in the project. Each of the 4 Training Modules will be carefully prepared taking into account PC HEIs needs and EU partners’ expertise, as well as the intercultural dimension. The training modules will be designed in a way to allow their replication (Train the Trainers approach). 

The training period has been carefully phased in several steps along Y1 and will finish with a practical training, which also includes a workshop about the management of International Mobility for training and research purposes (delivered by INCOMA). After theoretical trainings, participants will accomplish short learning mobilities to EU HEIs to test the knowledge learned in a job shadowing programme. 

The WP will finish with the development of a Manual on the Organisation and Management of IR structures. This material will take the form of a practical toolkit, and will be disseminated in the different workshops and conferences foreseen at national level in each PC to maximise the impact of the project.

WP1.
Policy and Strategic Planning for International Cooperation in HEI

The objective of this WP is to equip Partner Countries (PC) Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) with solid strategic expertise in the development and implementation of coherent institutional internationalisation policies related to cross‐regional cooperation and knowledge of transfer in terms of teaching, learning and researching. The main result of WP1 will be the definition, revision and adaptation of Strategic Plans for Internationalisation (SPI) in the involved PC HEIs, including considerations of their needs and local context, internationalisation potentials and goals, definition of success indicators and remedial actions. 

The adaptation of Strategic Plans of Internationalisation and Cross‐Regional Cooperation (SPI) will be done through a standard process that will be carried out in each PC HEI. The process will include the presentation of processes and strategies implemented by EU partners, explanations concerning the development process and its methodology, and coaching by EU experts along the drafting process.

While the main target group of WP1 is management staff responsible for International Relations (IR) and International Cooperation (IC) of the involved Universities, as well as staff responsible for the management of IR and IC (technical coordinators and technicians), the process for adaptation of SPI will be participative: it will foster participation of the University community (including students, teaching and administrative staff) through structured consultation. The implementation of the WP will start at the beginning of the project and its accomplishment will last until the third project year (Y3) in order to take into account the results from other WPs (trainings, benchmarking activities) and to provide room for SPI reviewing and potential adjustments. While the individual SPI of each PC HEI might remain confidential, the applied general framework, model and methodology for SPI creation susceptible to be applied by any HEI in each of the 3 PC will be shared at national level and presented through networking and dissemination activities to HEIs not directly involved in the project.

WP3. Development of Potentials for International Cooperation in Teaching/Learning/Research (T/L/R)

The objective of the WP is to foster internationalisationin T/L/R, and highlight the benefits of opening HEIs to cross‐regional cooperation and knowledge transfer in UNICAC these essential aspects of the lives of HEIs. The core of activities foreseen will take place during Y2, once the human capacity building under WP2 is finalised. As we plan to give a positive and practical orientation to the approach to this WP, we have planned a pilot cooperation and coaching by EU partners during Y2 and Y3. 

In our experience, the best approach to show how to do this is through benchmarking and a set of progressive seminars in which EU partners will share their experience on the positive impact that international cooperation has had in in their institutions, which will lead to the identification of best practices, and later on to the drafting of national recommendations. 

Two seminars will take place in each country: one on raising standards in T/L through internationalisation, and another devoted to boost research through international cooperation. EU experts will rotate between PC HEIs for the training foreseen. Students and local student representatives from PC HEIs and third party HEIs from PC interested in the project will also be involved. Final outputs will be the drafting of a Best Practices Manual (knowledge base of what is possible) and the preparation of National Recommendations (a roadmap of what is needed in each country) and Regional Recommendations. Drafting of National Recommendations will be done with the aim of introducing the necessary changes in HEIs systems in PC. 

Finally, the WP also foresees a pilot collaboration, in which EU HEIs will jointly coach PhD students (virtual mobilities) and HEI students and professors will complete 1‐2 weeks in another HEI. The pilot testing will include both interregional and international mobilities, thus allowing the Consortium to test the implementation of the cooperation framework defined. Indeed, the UNICAC cooperation framework aims at defining the basis for cooperation among participating HEIs, at the same time promoting an increase in the number and quality of student and staff exchanges by allowing institutions to get acquainted with and adopt good practices in terms of management of mobility projects, preparation of students for mobility/exchanges and also recognition/validation of learning outcomes related to mobility.

WP4. Infrastructural Measures

The WP includes infrastructure up‐grading in PC IROs with the necessary equipment and also the development of a Libraries’ exchange system. The first measure aims at:

  • Providing the means for effective administration and management of day‐to‐day activities of an IRO at each PC HEI;
  • Providing equipment for international communication and website development;
  • Facilitating efficient communication between the Consortium and future network members.
 

In order to ensure the timely availability of equipment and its use for the project purposes, the purchase and installation will be pursued as early as possible in the project implementation. To avoid problems with the video‐conference equipment setting, one US IT expert will assist each PC HEI during the installation and in case of potential trouble shouting. 

The creation of a Libraries’ exchange system is a highly cost‐efficient and effective way to get a free access to existing national and international research sources and databases. It comprises the development of an internet site and a simple online service.

 A similar model is already used in US and it is frequently used not only by IR staff but also by researchers, academic staff, and students in particular for research purposes and the establishment of international contacts.

WP6
Evaluation and Quality Assurance

Evaluation and Quality Assurance (E&QA) will be an integral part of the project in order to ensure that objectives are met in the most effective way and that results are relevant, and to assess project impact among the different target groups. 

This will be done by focussing E&QA activities on two main dimensions. On the one hand, WP6 will be aimed at ensuring control, namely by applying a monitoring approach, guaranteeing the correct fulfilment of project tasks and objectives, establishing procedures to face delays in the development of the outcomes or inappropriate partner performance (thus supporting project management and coordination).

On the other hand, WP6 will also address project evaluation, aimed at assuring the effectiveness of project actions in terms of attainment of project goals, by focusing on project results, outcomes and impact and on the implementation of project activities, as well as the key drivers for the fulfilment of project impact. 

Therefore, the project Quality Plan will be comprised of a set of tools and activities that will be implemented during its lifecycle.

WP5
Cross‐Regional Network for Internationalisation and Cooperation

The creation of a Cross‐Regional Network for Internationalisation and Cooperation of HEIs is one leading objective of this proposal. The network should serve as a platform for a multi‐regional, cross‐regional and international dialogue about the international cooperation and knowledge transfer in Higher Education, provide opportunities for finding synergies between its members and strengthen ties.

The establishment of the network will start early in the project with the overall definition of its mission and membership policy. Also it is foreseen the establishment of a permanent Network Secretariat. While the creation of the Network and its development will emerge with the project implementation, the third project year will culminate with the official approval of its structure, membership policy and funding strategy. 

The WP further involves the implementation of network activities in the form of three international conferences:

  1. Joint Conference in Khujand (TJ): Internationalisation Policies and Strategies in HEIs (M17). It will provide an opportunity to present project goals and its to‐date achievements to a wider audience, as well as facilitate international discussion about policies and strategies for international cooperation.
  2. Joint Conference in Xi’an (CN) on Cooperation in Teaching/Learning/ Research (M26): It will be an opportunity to discuss results of benchmarking international cooperation potentials and disseminate the developed best practices books/manuals and national recommendations for international cooperation if T/L/R;
  3. Final Network Conference in Tashkent (UZ ‐ M35). The final conference will provide the stage for presenting the network and project achievements, facilitate the discussion about future network operations and signing an official memorandum between the participating institutions concerning the network long‐term maintenance. 
 

One specific session about “Erasmus+: Opportunities for HEIs and other Stakeholders from Central Asia” will be scheduled in all three events. These sessions will be delivered by an external expert. This WP will be coordinated by TUIT with the participation of all partners.

WP7
Dissemination

To guarantee the high potential for multiplication and to disseminate the project results at institutional, national and international levels, dissemination activities are an integral part of the project and will be implemented from the very beginning. The project foresees multiple awareness‐raising actions both internally (at the level of the involved institutions) and externally (both nationally in PC and internationally). 

Particular attention has been paid to the dissemination actions at the national level of the PC in order to ensure that the impact of the project goes beyond the institutions directly involved. In relation to this and regarding the special nature of the project, a significant part of activities is integrated within the Development and Sustainability WPs (e.g. network activities and conferences, several national roundtables). 

In addition to that, the project foresees:

  • The development and implementation of extensive project marketing materials and awareness‐raising activities;
  • Project dissemination via electronic means (project homepage, electronic newsletters, download area for project outputs);
  • Internal/institutional information events to promote the services of IROs, ensuring institutional support, disseminating the information about the project and allowing the replication of the knowledge/expertise learned in the trainings to HEI community;
  • The organisation of a Central Asia & China Universities Convention.
 

Furthermore, project partners will be encouraged to use any opportunities to raise awareness about the project and the planned network using their own contacts and channels of dissemination (i.e. through membership in international networks/organisations and professional organisations, during the organisation or participation in “third party” conferences/meetings/events, through pressreleases in the media, academic journals, institutional newsletters).

WP8
Sustainability

WP8 is devoted to actions supporting and ensuring the long‐term maintenance of project results.While several actions supporting sustainability are integrated within the Dissemination and Development WPs, further sustainability and exploitation activities are planned, namely:

  • National roundtables in PC that aim at raising awareness and disseminating project results and facilitating a broader impact of the action at national level. In contrast to the international Network Conferences, these events will target the national academic community and further serve as a mean to generate public support and discussion and to facilitate the involvement of additional/third party HEIs in project activities.
  • Final presentation of the institutional Strategic Plans for Internationalisation and Cross‐Regional Cooperation in each institution – as a necessary mean for the institutional implementation of the developed strategies and recommendations or modifications if needed.
  • Official approval of created IR structures – to ensure long term maintenance of the created structures and their institutional incorporation within the PC Universities.
  • Signing of the agreement on the long‐term maintenance, functioning, financing and membership of the network.
  • Development and signing of collaboration agreements between partner

Universities to ensure the maintenance of the partnership created within the project, provide a basis for continuity of the collaborations/exchanges initiated within the project and to support the development of international cooperation.

WP9
Project Management

The objective of WP9 is to ensure the smooth strategic and operational project implementation by implementing the following measures. Strategic supervision of project implementation and related decisions will be taken by a Steering Committee (SC), composed of 1 representative per project partner. The SC will be responsible for the development of the project policy, strategic decision‐making on the project implementation, mid‐term reviews and adoption of recommendations and evaluations, progressive planning and potential adjustments. Decisions will be taken by simple majority. In case of disagreement, the coordinator will propose a democratic solution, seeking the advice of EACEA.

At the level of operational project management, each partner will appoint a project officer. In addition and to ensure the smooth implementation of the project in PC, “local project coordinators” will be nominated. 

The coordinator (US) will be responsible for the administrative management of the project including coordination of reporting, budget implementation and communication with the EACEA. Project partners will regularly submit reports on the implementation of activities to the project coordinator.

To facilitate efficient communication between partners, the project website will include an intranet with extra communication features like reminder function for meeting established deadlines. 

In addition, specific planning/control techniques will be applied using scale planning (for 1 week, 1 month and 6 month). Regular management meetings will be organised virtually in addition to SC meetings (4 in presence). For cost‐efficiency reasons the SC meetings will coincide with other project activities (namely the International Network Conferences in WP5). Project management issues will be also discussed on every occasion of meetings within the project core activities. The project coordinator will attend 1 yearly meeting in Brussels organised by EACEA. In the first year, a representative of INCOMA, as quality assurance coordinator will also attend.