Aurora Alliance Capacity Development Support Programme (CDS) is an Activity of Work package 4 (Engaging Communities) which aims at reducing disparities between the research-leading and research-emerging countries in Europe by assisting universities in Central-Eastern Europe and Neighbouring Countries to develop their institutional capacity for academic excellence and societal relevance. It focuses on Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation and is primarily aimed at cooperation with Associate Partners to Aurora Alliance which involve the following universities: Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice (Slovakia), V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University (Ukraine), South-West University" Neofit Rilski" (Bulgaria) and University of Tetova (North Macedonia).
The activity is led by Palacký University Olomouc and co-led by Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Other Aurora members that participate are University Duisburg-Essen (Germany), University of Naples Federico II (Italy), Copenhagen Business school (Denmark), and University of Innsbruck (Austria).
In this long-term strategic partnership, the cooperation and network-building, headed by UP Aurora Central Team and the International Division, will act as a role model of advancement in internationalization and support the increase in international cooperation of higher education institutions chiefly at the universities of the Central and Eastern Europe (including post-Soviet states) and South-Eastern Europe (post-Yugoslav states), but also open up more opportunities for wider global engagement.
The programme builds on the results of the three main work packages of Aurora Alliance (WP 3. Learning for Societal impact, WP 4 Co-engaging Communities, and WP 5. Sustainably Pioneers) and is interlinked with dissemination in the work package 6. Sustainability and Dissemination.
The outputs expected from this regional collaboration include:
- A - launching Aurora capacity development support community;
- B- six training seminars and awareness-raising meetings;
- C - six projects developed together, of which three implemented using external funding;
- D - creating a sustainable and long-lasting capacity development network; and
- E - establishing operational expert and support centre with online training services.
The expected outcomes are to spread the Aurora principles, values, skills, working models, and practical learning beyond the Aurora partners to the four Associate Partner Universities, and then further, reaching some 30 target universities in CEE Europe and beyond. The programme is an important part of the Aurora Alliance's long-term sustainability and further supports the UP’s strategic plan for internationalization.
It is worth noting that some of the main tenets of the Capacity Development Support Programme correspond to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals 2030 Agenda (SDGs), and in particular, the SDGs 4 (Quality Education) and 16 (Peace, justice and strong institutions). An important overall approach of the activity is 'the education for development approach', which aims at supporting the CEE’s transitional societies and digital development programmes. The priority is given to socio-technical innovation and social entrepreneurship activities that particularly involve Digital (In)Equality, Digital Inclusion, and Digital Humanism and Diversity/Inclusion issues (Aurora Domains 3 & 4 - Digitalization and Global citizenship and Culture, Identity and Diversity).
Furthermore, it was agreed to partner up (learn from each other's experiences) through equal knowledge-sharing between all university participants in the CDS programme, and to reach out to both formal and informal higher education actors in the associate partners’ countries in order to engage more cooperation during the 3-pilot years initiated by Aurora Alliance. By informal, we particularly stress the engagement of the civil society organizations, diaspora organizations, innovation hubs, NGOs, and think-tanks, depending on the local contexts.
The CDS programme was officially launched during the Aurora Alliance Kick-off Meeting Online on November 4th, 2020.