Project EU Erasmus+ “Universities-Communities: strengthening cooperation” (UNICOM) (2023-2026)

Project Coordinator from the Institute – Nataliia Shofolova (n.shofolova@ihed.org.ua)

The goal of the project is to enhance universities’ social role through boosting university-community engagement leading to the elaboration of state policy on supporting the third mission of universities for ensuring social cohesion, resilience, sustainability and prosperity in Ukraine.

At the national level this project aims at the elaboration of the evidence-based public policy of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine on enhancing the third mission of Ukrainian Universities and fostering best practices of cooperation between HEIs and communities based on application of the relevant experiences of EU states (Italy, Germany, Sweden, Czech Republic and Latvia).

At the intra-Ukrainian regional level it strives for the development of models of university-community engagement incorporating efficient models of interaction between the communities and universities developed to ensure social cohesion, resilience, sustainability and economic development. At the institutional level the project seeks to provide Ukraine universities with workable solutions for enhancing their social role and third missions for Ukrainian realities, which will be based upon the incorporation of best European practices in this area. From this point of view, this project addresses the national priorities for international cooperation in higher education, in particular it strives to improve the quality of education and training through the introduction of European perspectives of governance regarding the third mission of HEIs.

At the international level this project is relevant to “Strand 3 – Structural reform projects” of the Erasmus+ Priorities and addresses the third mission of universities, their social responsibility and role from the perspectives of the development of a national governance model, regional cooperation patterns at the level university-community cooperation and fostering the HEIs’ capacities to build a better future for citizens in Ukraine.


Specific objectives:

  1. to develop and to discuss national policy on enhancing third mission of universities and community-university cooperation (indicators: a policy paper; a road map, national guidelines, research published);
  2. to develop the model strategies for relations between Universities and communities based on their needs and aimed to enhance civic activism and citizen’s engagement based on principles of equality, solidarity, non-discrimination and inclusion and to pilot them in the HEIs and communities involved (indicators: 7 concepts on Ukrainian universities’ community engagement aimed at enhancing their social responsibility and amending university development strategies);
  3. to foster the cooperation between the project target groups and stakeholders on university-community cooperation based on European experiences and practices in the field of inclusion and gender equality, cyber security and digitalization, ecology and civic education etc. (indicators: community empowerment programme, 3 hackathons, 2 volunteering programs);
  4. to increase the social responsibility and community engagement of universities through raising their capacities in the areas of community development and local leadership (indicators: a joint report on the needs of the communities and their expectations from the cooperation with the HEIs);
  5. to foster the cooperation between the project target groups and stakeholders on university-community cooperation based on European experiences and practices (indicators: visits to European partners for research and experience exchange; visits among Ukrainian partners for experience exchange and augmenting cooperation; number of participants in project events and mobilities performed; training programs and relevant teaching materials for the project teaching component, a future summit);
  6. to assure the qualitative project implementation in line with good European practices as to the academic content and project management;
  7. to ensure proper cooperation between partner institutions, target groups and stakeholders in order to implement project duly and report timely to European and national authorities.


Expected results:

  • the Guidelines on HEIs’ Third Mission Formulation
  • a research paper “Models of University-Community Cooperation in Ukraine”
  • 3 workshops on research methodology, intra-consortium mobilities from aiming to study and to share the best practices in partner institutions
  • 7 roundtables and focus groups on the third university mission with MESU, Ministry of Regional Development of Ukraine, communities and other stakeholders
  • development and piloting of national models of university-community cooperation centres (UNICOMs) through the professional capacity building program for communities: Community Empowerment Program “Open University”; application of university expertise for solution of community needs; a hackathon; a volunteering program involving students and fostering student civic engagement
  • a policy paper and a roadmap on enhancing third university mission during HE reform in Ukraine




Initial organization meeting
The first project information and planning meeting took place on March 1, 2023.
This meeting was an opportunity for all partners to meet each other, receive update on the project, its objectives and expected results, clarify reporting, financing and management modalities.
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