Are you interested in working with developing countries around the world? Then Capacity Building is for you.
At the end of November, European Commission and its agency EACEA organised an informative webinar where the potential applicants in this type of projects learned about the conditions for participation in Call 2024 and tips on how to succeed.
Main objectives Capacity building in higher education
At the beginning of the webinar, participants were introduced to the main objectives of the Capacity Building and the overarching priorities. The most important aspect of these projects is that they should focus on the needs of third developing countries, the project outcomes should benefit them and their higher education systems and society. The main objectives are the establishment of cooperation, the promotion of regional cooperation, the modernisation of higher education institutions and systems in third countries not affiliated to the programme (so-called partner countries), the effective management and governance of HEIs in partner countries, innovation, accessibility of internationalisation and of higher education for students and societal impact. Projects should also focus on one of the five overarching priorities: Green Deal for Europe; Digital Transition; Integration of Migrants; Governance, Peace, Security and Human Development; or Sustainable Growth and Jobs. These overarching priorities do not apply to all regions of the world, some of them only apply to certain regions, so it is important to read the information in the Programme Guide.
Within Capacity Building there are three strands:
Strand 1: Fostering access to cooperation in higher education
The projects to be implemented under Strand 1 should be an entry point into Capacity Building, but also into other Erasmus+ projects and internationalisation in general for "newcomers", i.e. universities or faculties from partner countries that have no experience with international projects. They can target e.g. universities from rural or remote areas and should also support the accessibility of higher education and internationalisation for people with fewer opportunities. The aim is to reduce the internationalisation gap, to support the development of the management and administrative capacities of schools in partner countries and to ensure high quality and relevant education. Examples of project outputs under this strand include the creation of internationalisation units, new curricula or training for university staff. These projects last for 2 to 3 years and the grant ranges from 200 to 400 000 euros. The least developed countries will be funded as a priority.
Strand 2: Partnerships for transformation in higher education
Projects under this strand should aim to bring about changes not only at the level of the universities in partner countries, but also at the level of the higher education system. Innovation in higher education is an essential part of these projects. Projects should aim to closely link higher education with the labour market and society (involving representatives of local employers, research actors or civil society) and promote networking between the participating universities. They should also innovate the ways of learning, e.g. integrating a mix of physical and online learning, transdisciplinary learning or problem-based learning into the curriculum. The aim is to increase student employability and promote reforms such as the Bologna Process tools. This component has the highest number of submissions and is therefore the most competitive. Grant amounts range from EUR 400 to 800 000 and projects last for 2 to 3 years.
Strand 3: Structural reform projects
These projects aim at structural change of the higher education system at national or regional level, including necessary legislative changes. They must therefore involve a relevant ministry from each participating third country not affiliated to the programme and last longer (3 or 4 years). Strand 3 is designed to support inclusive, modern and high quality higher education systems in third countries. Therefore, particularly in this type of project, a detailed and in-depth analysis of the needs of the country and its higher education system is required in the application. The amount of the grant is between EUR 600 000 and EUR 1 million.
Further categories of projects
In addition to the division into components, Capacity Building projects are divided into so-called national projects involving only one partner country (this format is only possible for Regions 2, 3, 5a, 6, 7a, 8a and 9), regional projects (at least two partner countries from the same region involved) and cross-regional projects (different countries from different regions). Cross-regional projects have a dedicated part of the budget and will be evaluated separately. Concerning the minimum consortium composition, at least 2 programme countries (minimum 1 HEI from each country) and at least 2 HEIs from each partner country should be involved.
Although the Capacity Building primarily targets HEIs and only HEIs can be project coordinators, other organisations linked to higher education or e.g. youth and other areas of education, as well as social partners including private companies can be involved. However, their involvement should always be explained and their added value to the project clearly demonstrated.
Tips for a successful application
Project applications should be balanced in terms of budget and should not include excessive staff costs. If these exceed 50% of the total grant requested, they should be reduced. Projects under Strand 1 should include the purchase of equipment for the participating universities in the partner countries. Under Strand 2, the grant may also cover the purchase of equipment, but it should be specialised and innovative, as opposed to general equipment such as printers or computers in Component 1 (e.g. special laboratory equipment). When completing the application, applicants should specify clearly measurable outputs for each project objective, e.g. how many students will be enrolled in the new courses or curricula developed, etc.
The total budget for the 2024 call is €98 million, which will be distributed across the above-mentioned 3 Strands and 10 world regions. It is expected that a total of 145 projects will be funded. The success rate of projects in the last two calls has been 20% and 23%.
More information, including technical details on filling in the application and obtaining a PIC, can be found in the webinar recording and in the presentations on the EACEA website.