IEE Newsletter No. 28

Erasmus Mundus Action 2 Project EUSA_ID finished in July 2018

Britta Niklas looks back at the EUSA_ID Project

The project EUSA_ID (established in 2013), a mobility program offering study, training and research periods in Europe for South African Master and PhD candidates and staff and providing European PhD candidates the opportunity to spend a research period in South Africa, finished after 5 years in July 2018. In total, 6 South African and 8 European Universities took part in the program.

According to the requirements, 71% of all expenditures have been spent for mobility from South Africa to Europe (1.552.175 EUR) while 29% or 634.550 EUR have been spent for mobility from Europe to South Africa. Regarding numbers, the table below shows a summary of the mobility with regard to the type and direction of the mobility, taking gender into account.

Summary of EUSA_ID Mobility 2013-2018

South African PhD candidates in Europe took part in (structured) elements of the respective PhD programs and worked on their PhD projects in parallel. Additional activities carried out included the offer of seminars at host universities or the opportunity to work as teaching assistants in Master level courses. PhD candidates broadly used the opportunity to participate in and present at conferences on topics related to their PhD projects. Some of these conferences have been (co-)organized by EUSA_ID partners, such as the EADI Nordic 2017 Conference, Globalisation at the Crossroads – Rethinking Inequalities and Boundaries, Bergen, Norway – 21/02/2017, the Development Dialogue (DD16) at the Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Netherlands and the 4th PhD Conference on International Development at the Ruhr University Bochum.

Foto 1
European EUSA_ID PhD student (right) at Nelson Mandela University together with hosting staff

As far as European PhD candidates in South Africa are concerned, the activities have been comparable with regard to the work on their PhD projects, the contribution to teaching at host universities and conference participation. In addition, a number of European PhD candidates used the mobility period to work on publications – partly in collaboration with colleagues of their respective host universities.

All in all, PhD candidates benefitted from the mobility period in diverse forms, discussing their projects with different experts at the host  universities, or through conference participation, which helped further specifying their projects. Exposure to PhD training in other countries did not only broaden their view on the topic but also on the diversity of academic traditions. Another important result was the broadening of networks. As far as publications produced and finalized during the mobility, PhD candidates further improved their career perspectives as researchers.

South African academic staff members in Europe worked on their own research projects during their mobility period and presented their work during seminars or workshops at the host university. In addition, some presented at conferences in Europe. Nearly all academic staff worked on publications during their visiting periods at European universities. In some cases, supervisory collaborations between visiting staff members and host university students were formed, with the aim of enriching the resources available to students working on Master or PhD thesis projects on topics related to (South) Africa.

The mobility of academic staff members resulted in (joint) publications, the strengthening of links with several institutions also outside the EUSA_ID consortium, the signing of partnership agreements or the initiation of joint projects and in some cases also adaptation of some European traditions related to PhD training.

Foto 2South African EUSA_ID Master Students at Ruhr University Bochum together with host (Britta Niklas (middle) and Dr. Gabriele Bäcker(right))

South African administrative staff members in Europe have been involved in daily work of selected departments they were interested in. As a result of administrative staff mobility, the partners mentioned the improvement of project administration at their home universities through better knowledge of how international projects are run and the improvement of advisory service for outgoing students / staff traveling to Europe.

Master grantees enhanced their employability through successful completion of a degree or non-degree seeking study period abroad, which is considered an asset in the South African context. South Africa has a very limited rate of international student mobility, especially among students belonging to formerly disadvantaged groups. A positive impact on the employability of grantees has so far been supported by EUSA_ID’s monitoring activities, which show that Master candidates who already completed their studies work in relevant positions.

Foto 3

South African EUSA_ID Master Students at University Duisburg/Essen together with host Prof. Dr. Christof Hartmann (right)

Another essential aspect for the development of capacities of the management of international cooperation activities was the close cooperation and communication among EUSA_ID partners throughout the duration of the project. The coordinator (IEE/RUB) and joint coordinator (University of the Western Cape) acted as contact point for all partners in case of questions in all fields, and partners came together for a kick-off, mid-term and final meeting. The meetings have been judged as especially helpful for the management of the project. It was not only the South African partners who benefitted from EUSA_ID to set up structures for international cooperation, but the European partners were also able to enhance their capabilities.

Neu Foto 4EUSA_ID Consortium

The project strongly supported development studies as a field of study and made development studies more visible and contributed to the networking of all partners. Participating students not only focused on their own capacity building, but all added value to the student body through their diversity, contributing to the internationalization of faculties and universities.

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