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News: New Erasmus+ Project "Enhancing Postgraduate Environment"

The IEE, together with the RUB Research School, has become partner of the newly established Erasmus+ Project "Enhancing Postgraduate Environment" (EPE).

The new Erasmus+ programme of the European Union supports actions in the fields of Education, Training, Youth, and Sport for the period of 2014-2020. The EPE project has been selected for funding under the so-called Key Action 2 "Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices", more specifically as a "Capacity-building project in the field of higher education". These projects are transnational cooperation projects, based on multilateral partnerships, primarily between higher education institutions from European and Partner Countries. Joint Projects operate at a micro level and target higher education institutions in the Partner Countries specifically. They aim to modernise and reform higher education institutions through activities, such as developing new curricula or improving existing ones, improving governance and management systems, or building relationships between higher education institutions and relevant socio-economic actors.

South Africa as partner country

The partner country of the EPE project is South Africa. As outlined in the project proposal, the specific aim of the project is to enhance the institutional environments of public universities in South Africa. The objectives of the project comprise the development of in-house training capacity in postgraduate supervision training and the reinforcement of research cultures at participating institutions; the institutionalization of postgraduate supervision training through the creation of a South African Cohort of Experts in postgraduate supervision training; and contributing to the transformation agenda in Higher Education of the South African government.

Cooperation with previous and new partners

Six European and six South African Higher Education Institutions constitute the EPE partnership. The European partners are: the VU University Amsterdam (Coordinator), the Institute for Social Studies (ISS) of the Erasmus University Rotterdam, the African Studies Centre (ASC) Leiden – all from the Netherlands, the Boğaziçi University (Turkey), the Centre of African Studies, the School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh (UK), and the Ruhr-University Bochum. The South African Partners are: Rhodes University, the University of Fort Hare, the University of the Western Cape, Stellenbosch University, the University of Zululand, and the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Thanks to our prior involvement with the Erasmus Mundus Action 2 project EUSA_ID, we are pleased to be working with four of our former partner institutions. With the ISS, which is also member of the EUSA_ID partnership, further close links exist through a joint PhD agreement.

First meetings and workshops

The EPE-project is funded for a period of three years from October 2015 to October 2018. So far, a number of partner meetings have already taken place with the aim of further developing and detailing project activities and materials. After a kick-off meeting of European partners in Amsterdam in October 2015, a start-up meeting with all partners took place in Stellenbosch in December 2015. These meetings served the purpose of reaching a common understanding of the specific project aims and activities and were followed by a first programme design workshop in Leiden in March 2016. From 9 to 13 May 2016 a Material Design Workshop was held at the University of Fort Hare, where partners followed up on activities agreed upon in March.
The IEE and the RUB Research School aim at contributing to the new EPE project, not in the least through the IEE's longstanding cooperation experience with South Africa in related fields and the expertise of the RUB Research School in the institutionalization of supporting structures for doctoral education.

BaeckerDr. Gabriele Bäcker
Executive Director
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Institute of Development Research and Development
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