Project EU Erasmus+ “Universities-Communities: strengthening cooperation” (UNICOM) (2023-2027)

Universities Communities: strengthening cooperation


Project timeline: 4 years (01.02.2023 – 31.01.2027)
EU funding program: Erasmus+: КА2 CBHE
Financing: 988,435.00 €

General Objective:

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.

Specific objectives:

  • To develop and discuss national policy on enhancing the third mission of universities and community-university cooperation (indicators: a policy paper; a road map, national guidelines, a research published);
  • To develop the model strategies for relations between universities and communities based on their needs and aimed to enhance civic activism and citizen engagement based on principles of equality, solidarity, non-discrimination and inclusion and to pilot them in the HEI’s and communities involved (indicators: 7 on Ukrainian universities’ visions on the cooperation with the communities in terms of their social responsibility and university development strategies;
  • 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 program, 3 hackathons, 2 volunteering programs);
  • To increase the social responsibility and community engagement of universities through raising their capacities in the area of community development and local leadership (indicators: joint reports on the needs of the communities and their expectations from the cooperation with the HEIs);
  • To foster the cooperation between the project target groups and stakeholders on university-community cooperation based on European experiences and practices (indicators: research/experience exchange visits to European partners and internally for experience exchange and cooperation; the number of participants at the project events and mobilities performed; training programs and relevant teaching materials for the project teaching component, a future summit);
  • To ensure the qualitative project implementation is in line with best European practices as to the academic content and project management;
  • To ensure proper cooperation between PI, target groups, and stakeholders in order to implement the project dully and timely to report to European and national authorities;


Project Consortium

From Program countries:

From Partner country (Ukraine):

Contacts of coordinator

Guido Amoretti

Diana Spulber

Contacts of IHE NAESU

Olena Orzhel

Nataliia Shofolova


Project News


International Conference “University and inclusion”
­The international conference “University and Inclusion”, organized by the Fondazione Sicurezza e Liberta in Rome (Italy) on December 14 and 15, 2023, became the summarizing dissemination event of the 1st year of the UNICOM project.All participants presented the results of their research on the role of the Universities and associations in European cooperation, the specifics of their interaction with communities and stakeholders, as well as the implementation of foreign experience in the work of Universities with communities.Felice Romano and Alessandro Figus, along with their welcoming speeches to the conference participants, emphasized the need to ensure the safety of communities, the role of research and the scientific community in responsible informing communities about changes and international cooperation trends, in case of studying public needs and its redress, etc.
Due to the blended format of the conference, online participants had the opportunity to join a lively discussion and share their own experience of project implementation throughout the year and participate in the discussion of pressing issues. Expert experience from European and Ukrainian partners regarding the third mission of universities, activities of universities in an inclusive space, mutual integration of displaced students, teachers and the host community, prospects for cooperation in the European space of higher education is a significant development of the project for the socio-economic development of Ukraine.
Institute of Higher Education NAES of Ukraine represented by the presentations:
Olena Orzhel (Third mission through the eyes of internal and external stakeholders: Unicom project implementation results)
Nataliia Shofolova (Financial inclusion in higher education: Approaches and Steps to Implementation)

Materials of the Conference and more information about Project: https://unicom.community/en/unicom-home/

Study visit to Lund University (Sweden), 6-9 November 2023
The study visit to Lund University (Sweden) on November 6-9, 2023 will be remembered by the participants of the Ukrainian project teams of the UNICOM project as a significant contribution to the understanding of the universities role in the community and society development.
The participants of the visit from the Institute of Higher Education NAES of Ukraine, Olga Petroye and Nataliia Shofolova, got acquainted with the most interesting cases and projects of interaction between the university and the community, initiated by the University of Lund as part of the third mission, not only for the Lund community, but for the whole country.
Project managers from Lund University Anamaria Dutceac Segesten and Niklas Bernsand, welcomed the partner teams and introduced them Lund universities scientific research, noting the important role of the University in the socio-economic development of the country. All speakers emphasized the importance of cooperation between the university and the community.
Thanks to the achievements of HumTank, which gathered together 14 universities in Sweden and was created to research humanistic topics, community development at the national level reached new heights and, according to HumTank chair Lovisa Brännstedt, made the voice of universities powerful in decision-making for communities.
Noteworthy is all the speakers emphasized the need for cooperation between the university and the community. Thus, Patrik Rydén – the project manager of the cooperation office, – spoke about the fruitful cooperation work and noted the need to involve external stakeholders to improve the effectiveness of the third mission and its compliance with the community’s request. In the course of the topic, Michael Bossetta, a media and communications researcher, talked about the advantages of the university podcast as one of the modern communication tools with the community and conveying the latest knowledge. Michael’s lively speech inspired the Ukrainian participants to the idea of creating a project podcast to disseminate their own experience and best European practices. The rationality of this idea was confirmed during the workshop with the press officer Ulrika Oredsson, who talked about the existing communication networks of the University, their role in attracting investments to support research, and their promotion up to the nomination of candidates for the Nobel Prize.
2023 was the year of recognition of Anne L’Hillier’s fruitful 30-year work in the field of physics, which brought her the Nobel Prize and confirmed Lund University’s status as a powerful research university.
Since the year of foundation – 1666, the University has produced a Fields Medal laureate, prime ministers, dozens of business leaders, as well as numerous innovators and researchers who brought lots of benefits to society. The existence of an ancient tradition of innovations and their combination with art and science is confirmed by the museums existing at the University, which were also visited by Ukrainian delegates.
Cultural impressions and new knowledge of the university’s experience were creatively summarized by Anamaria Dutceac Segesten, the coordinator of the UNICOM project at Lund University and associate professor of the Department of European Studies and Strategic Communications. Working in teams, the Ukrainian project participants put forward Anamaria’s topics for further processing, which she agreed upon for the further processing.
Therefore, the next visit to Sweden should open not only new pages of the history and culture of the Scandinavian country but also help in the development of strategies of cooperation between the university and communities in Ukraine.
Study Visit Programme
Photos 1, 2, 3, 4


From German national policy to Fachhochschule des Mittelstands experience in implementing the third mission of universities
The study visit to the Fachhochschule des Mittelstands in Bielefeld (Germany) was organized in a blended format, which gave an opportunity for the larger part of representatives of the project teams to learn about the innovative experience of implementing the third mission of German universities for four days (October 16-19, 2023).
The program was full of visits to innovative locations and attendance in interactive workshops with inspired discussions between project team members.
Lemgo Campus impressed the visiting participants with a combination of vocational colleges, universities, manufacturing companies, and inventors. The modern buildings of the campus contain spaces for cooperation, innovation, acquisition of skills and abilities, tests, piloting of technologies, creativity, and self-realization.
The presented information on the concept of an open innovative city and initiatives of digital interaction of universities with civil society will be useful during the reconstruction of the industrial complex of Ukraine and now for the development of the country’s human capital and social cohesion.
As part of the workshop “City of Open Innovations” with the mentoring of Professor Rulf Treidel and Dr. Mirko Petersen, teams of Ukrainian universities, including online participants, received new ideas and insights for further developing the third mission of universities.
Upon return, the project teams will conduct a series of meetings with focus groups to determine how Ukrainian universities and their main stakeholders understand and are ready to develop the third mission of universities.
Photos 1, 2, 3, 4

Experience Sharing – Third mission of universities & University- Community cooperation
On October 2-6, 2023, the UNICOM project partners had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with and learn from the experience of implementing the third mission by the Czech University of Natural Sciences in Prague.
The study visit was organized by the Faculty of Tropical Agricultural Sciences and coordinated by associate professor and leader of the Biogas research group Hynek Roubík, who highlighted the main provisions of the National Strategy for the Development of the Third Mission of Higher Education Institutions and introduced the best practices of the interaction of European institutions of higher education in the development of the third mission on the example of the Czech University of Natural Sciences in Prague.
Thanks to researcher Stacy Denise Hammond, participants had the opportunity to work out ways to strengthen the third mission of universities based on active communication with the community.
As a result of the fruitful work during the practical sessions for the purposes of sustainable development in the fields of energy, economy, and ecology, the participants had the opportunity to work out the current challenges and opportunities for ensuring food security in Ukraine in the current and forecasted period.
Photos 1, 2, 3

On September 18, researchers of the Institute of Higher Education of the NAES of Ukraine gathered to discuss the state of implementation of the third – social – mission. The event was held within the framework of the project Project EU Erasmus+ “Universities-Communities: strengthening cooperation” (UNICOM) (https://ihed.org.ua/en/internationalization/project-unicom/ ), in particular, the implementation of Work Package 1, which involved filling out a questionnaire on the implementation of the third mission of Ukrainian higher education institutions.
The discussion demonstrated interest to the topic, the presence of achievements in the implementation of the social mission of the Institute, as well as certain specificities inherent in the Institute as a research institution.
The UNICOM project team had the opportunity to tell more about the project and to learn the opinion of their colleagues about how they see the social responsibility and social mission of the Institute of Higher Education of the National Academy of Educational Sciences of Ukraine.
Photos 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

The study visit to University of Latvia
The study visit to the University of Latvia (Riga) on 22-25 August 2023 was incredibly warm and emotionally exciting because it happened during the days of celebration of Ukrainian Flag Day and the 32nd Anniversary of the Independence of Ukraine.
The Rector of the University I. Muižnieks, invited the “University-Communities: Strengthening Cooperation” Erasmus+ project team and expressed support to the Ukrainian people, as well as the encouragement of further cooperation in spheres of improvement of Higher education, voicing the social significance of the project.
The Ambassador of Ukraine to the Republic of Latvia, Anatolii Kutsevol, highlighted the necessity of cooperation with the community and further improvement of Ukrainian higher education despite the war. Also, during the meeting, it was notified of the outstanding role of the Universities in maintaining relations between Ukraine and Latvia.
The study visit was organized by the Faculty of Business, Management and Economics of the University of Latvia. In virtue of the perfect organization of the study visit events by the project manager Baiba Šavriņa, participants had the opportunity to discuss during workshops the cooperation with social partners in the implementation of the Third Mission of the University, the system and criteria of the Third Mission evaluation, as well as its accreditation.
Extremely informative and interesting was a meeting in the Parliament with the Deputy Speaker and Member of the Parliament of Latvia Dr. Z.Kalniņa-Lukaševica.
As a consequence of productive work, all participants of the study visit received invaluable knowledge and impressions regarding the cooperation of the university and social partners. The mechanism of national regulation of the Third mission of the university in Latvia can be used by Ukrainian universities with certain adjustments to Ukrainian realities.
Photos 1, 2, 3, 4

International summer school in Italy: «Cultural research and cultural dialogue in an intercultural environment with the aim of involving communities»
On the Summer school that took place in Genoa on 24-28 July 2023, the international team of the Erasmus+ project “Universities-Communities: Strengthening Cooperation” got acquainted with new practical tools of the best European practices in the field of implementing social cohesion and intercultural dialogue.
Summer School was organised by Association of Researchers of EU Values in Education (AREVE), Faculty of Educational Sciences DISFOR – Genoa University (Italy), Dragomanov Ukrainian State University, Bogdan Khmelnitsky Melitopol State Pedagogical University.
Welcome speeches of the partner universities were presented by:
Gvido Amoretti – head of DISFOR department, University of Genoa (UniGe)
Volodymyr Lavrynenko – vice Rector of Dragomanov Ukrainian State University
Natalia Falko – Rector of Bogdan Khmelnitsky Melitopol State Pedagogical University.
Professor Marco Invernizzi presented the best practices for managing the third mission and its definition and assessment in view of the current activities of the universities.
The program moderated by Prof. Diana Spulber and Prof. Marja Nesterova was full of interactive training on social cohesion of academics and the community, allowing to build of a dialogue on strengthening the society and revealing the potential of sustainable development of communities and universities.
Due to the panel discussion “Intercultural dialogue, broad inclusion and involvement of communities”, on the example of Italian and Ukrainian Universities, modern values of the EU and the diversity of community development, which influence the activities of Universities were determined during the discussion.
Main directions of the Summer School were outlined:

  1. Sustainable development through the third mission: universities as initiators of global change.
  2. Wide inclusion and community engagement.
  3. European cultural studies and intercultural communication.
  4. EU values: diversity in community development.
  5. Intercultural dialogue, social cohesion and community safety.

As a result of the five-day fruitful cooperation, all participants of the summer school received new practical tools of the best European practices in the field of implementing social cohesion and intercultural dialogue to intensify the interaction between universities and the community.
Photos 1, 2, 3

Workshop Third Mission of the Universities: Challenges and European Perspectives, July 10-12, 2023

Within the framework of the realization of the Erasmus+ project UNICOM the workshop “Third Mission of the Universities: Challenges and European Perspectives” will be held on July 10-12, 2023, in the online format.
The workshop is aimed to discuss the international and domestic practices of the realization of third mission of universities. Particular attention will be paid to the vision of the third mission of universities as part of university life, culture and quality assurance strategies.
The workshop will take place in cooperation with the National Erasmus+ Office in Ukraine.

Read more


UNICOM kick-off meeting and international conference «Intercultural Education: Daily Life and Crisis Time», Department of Education Sciences with the University of Genoa (UNIGE), Italy

On April 11-15, 2023, the first coordination meeting of Erasmus+ project “Universities-Communities: strengthening cooperation” (UNICOM) and international conference «Intercultural Education: Daily Life and Crisis Time» organized by University of Genoa Department of Education Sciences (DISFOR UNIGE https://disfor.unige.it/) took place in Genoa, Italy.

Both events were hosted by DISFOR UNIGE, who is the Coordinator of UNICOM project, and brought together partners from Ukraine, Germany, Latvia, Czech Republic and Sweden. Ukrainian delegation was represented by the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, seven partner   universities, as well as civil society organizations.

Project participants were introduced to Italian National Agency for the Evaluation of Universities and Research Institutes (AVA) and operation of AVA system (that covers self-assessment, periodic assessment and accreditation); the Italian experience of knowledge transfer and quality assurance in higher education; learned about the history of UNIGE and DISFOR.

Later, all project participants presented their institutions, their experience in third (social) mission implementation and their vision and expectations of UNICOM project. During the discussion of the strategy of joint work and attainment of project goals, it became clear that partners from different countries interpret third university mission differently and practice different approaches to implementation of university social role and community engagement. Specifically, the universities of Italy and Sweden consider the application of knowledge obtained as a result of university research in manufacturing and production or solving societal problems as fulfilment of their social mission and community engagement; for Latvian and Czech universities, third mission is the activities undertaken outside university walls, be it cooperation with business, communities, schools or kindergartens. Accumulation of European universities’ best practices in university-community engagement will help Ukrainian universities develop effective solutions to enhance their social role and third mission under current Ukrainian realities at the institutional, national and international levels, will strengthen their capacity to jointly  respond to the needs of Ukrainian citizens and build a better future for them.

The conference «Intercultural Education: Daily Life and Crisis Time» continued the discussion on the social mission of universities and involved the participants of UNICOM project, as well as representatives of India, Kazakhstan, other countries into a deep academic dialogue on the issues of cultural and workforce diversity, intercultural education in everyday life and crisis situations.

Programme of the Coordination Meeting
Programme of the Conference
Presentation IHE – kick-off meeting
Presentation IHE – conference
Photos 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9


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.
Photo 1, 2, 3