From Tempus to Erasmus+: enhancing cooperation opportunities in Uzbekistan

From Tempus to Erasmus+: enhancing cooperation opportunities in Uzbekistan

The long and successful history of the EU Tempus programme (1990–2013) was recognised during the development of the new generation of EU education cooperation programmes: Erasmus+. Since 1994, more than 87 projects have been funded for a total of over €32 million under the Tempus programme. The programme has had considerable impact on the  internationalisation of higher education,  enabling long-term intensive inter-university cooperation and demonstrating sustainable achievements.

With Erasmus+, it was decided to continue using the format of the Lifelong Learning programme and the main characteristics of the Tempus projects. The new Capacity Building Projects within Erasmus+ follow the format of Tempus. Even more European countries (33, including 28 EU member states) and partner countries (150 countries, including 27 Tempus partner countries) can participate in these projects. Central Asian states, including Uzbekistan, will participate in the new programme as partner countries, continuing the long and fruitful cooperation with the universities of the EU which was initiated through the Tempus and Erasmus Mundus programmes.

20 years of Tempus in Uzbekistan

The Tempus programme has been an appropriate and useful instrument for the implementation of educational reforms in Uzbekistan, in particular with the introduction of the two-level higher education system. The programme has become even more relevant in the past two years as Tempus projects facilitated the implementation of recent governmental decisions on the modernisation of the higher education system in Uzbekistan. The programme has also influenced the development of quality assurance systems, the introduction and incorporation of Bologna process criteria in education programmes, reform initiatives and the university management sector.

For many years a great number of Tempus projects focused on curriculum development with the introduction of new majors, mainly, at the Master’s level, in the field of engineering and technology, applied sciences, education and teacher training, social sciences, management and business. The relevance of new programmes to local labour market needs was ensured through direct involvement of local enterprises from energy, aviation, automotive, food, textile and chemical industries, and various profile ministries, Chambers of Commerce and other non-academic organisations from key sectors of the national economy. A large number of training laboratories established in the framework of Tempus projects have also served to upgrade professional skills of specialists from project partner enterprises in Uzbekistan.

Long term cooperation links with Europe

The Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialised Education (MHSSE) has underlined the programme`s impact at the national level in Uzbekistan due to a large number of involved universities (55 universities across the country). The higher education institutions have greatly benefited from Tempus projects and have established many long term cooperation links with European partner universities as well as with other Uzbek universities in the country. Many projects have also demonstrated a number of spin-off effects going beyond the planned activities and outcomes thanks to the active role of the Uzbek partners who have benefited from enhanced project management skills. As a partnership programme where all the partners have equal opportunities and benefit from all processes, Tempus is an instrument which builds strong international partnerships. When Tempus project funding ends, links between Uzbek and European partner universities are sustained through academic exchange, joint publications, participation in research or other academic projects and scientific collaborations.

Interuniversity partnership strengthened within Tempus IV (2007–2013)

Tempus IV (2007–2013) is considered the most fruitful/productive phase of the programme, which is coming to its end with 11 newly selected projects in the framework of the final call. The relevance of the programme has been proven again through the recent introduction of a third cycle higher education system which has replaced the two-stage postgraduate education. Undoubtedly, Tempus projects and their participants have contributed to facilitating this decision which is considered as a step forward towards aligning with the Bologna process. One of the newly selected structural projects is aimed at enhancing the quality of doctoral education at higher education institutions in Uzbekistan, in line with the principles of European Higher Education Area.

The Tempus projects continue providing support to strengthening cooperation within Central Asia and other partner-countries. Since 2008, Uzbekistan has become more involved in multi-country projects: 20 out of 30 Tempus IV projects are multi-country involving 48 Uzbek institutions and over 150 universities from 10 partner-countries and 22 EU Member States. Dissemination of best practice is ensured by direct involvement of the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialised Education as a consortium partner in many of the projects.

Great interest of the Uzbek institutions and their commitment to cooperation with EU universities has been justified by absorption capacity within the last Tempus IV Call: 77 project proposals with involvement of Uzbek institutions were submitted within the 6th Call (March 2013) in comparison to 36 applications in 2012. Thanks to the updated list of national priorities, spheres of cooperation and coverage of academic disciplines expanded in the newly selected projects which started operating in December 2013. Implementation of the newly selected three-year projects will run until the end of December 2016.

Higher education institutions of Uzbekistan are active participants of Erasmus Mundus, the programme complementary to Tempus which is aimed at supporting the academic mobility of students and professors, as well as strengthening interuniversity cooperation. In 2013, opportunities for learning mobility were expanded within four new Central Asian partnerships, as well as a national partnership thanks to bilateral allocation of €3 million to Uzbekistan.

It is hoped that the 20 years of successful Tempus activities and seven years of Erasmus Mundus in Uzbekistan will be followed-up by widely extended cooperation opportunities within the new Erasmus + programme for 2014–2020.

ByAziza Abdurakhmanova, National Tempus Office in Uzbekistan