Erasmus+ – Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices – Capacity Building in the filed of Higher Education

Project: Structuring cooperation in doctoral research, transferrable skills training, and academic writing instruction in Ukraine’s regions / DocHub

Project Number: 574064-EPP-1-2016-1- LT-EPPKA2-CBHE-SP


Project Objectives:

  1. To draft state-level regulatory frameworks (MinEdu, Cabinet of Ministers, NAQAHE) for the functioning of inter-institutional cooperation in PhD training. Specifically, regulations enabling inter-HEI transfers of state funds (payments for courses, co-supervision of students from non-host HEIs), recognition of transfer credits (both domestic and international), licensing and accreditation of inter-HEI joint PhD programs.
  2. To establish 5 regional DocHubs as national centers of excellence in PhD training; to agree their Codes of Practice; to  install infrastructure for tracking enrolment, student progress, supervision, mobility, coursework, research results and publications, and to enable blended learning; to institute Quality Assurance systems in the DocHubs, and to popularize them as centers for aggregation of critical mass for teaching and research
  3. To establish infrastructure and sytems for training in advanced academic writing  in each of the DocHubs, in blended learning format. Course curricula will be aimed at improving students’ proficiency from B2 to C1 level, and will bevalidated with Cambridge Advanced English testing tools.
  4. To design and pilot transferrable skills (e.g. research management, presentation, teaching skills, etc.), and speciality courses (3 for each inter-HEI subject-area group) according to EC “Principles for Innovative Doctoral Training” quality standards.
  5. To establish 5 inter-HEI subject-specific research networks (political sciences, education policy, finance, informatics, and biochemistry) that are integrated through regular seminars and co-supervision of PhD students. Each network to produce 3-4 speciality courses for PhD student teaching. Each network will launch one inter-HEI joint PhD program during the project.

Innovations in the project

Ukraine’s system of doctoral training (the aspirantura) has largely remained unchanged since the collapse of the USSR. This system is based on a single supervisor research mentorship model with minimal coursework, and a dissertation defense before a standing committee that is often hosted by a different HEI than where the student conducted his/her research. This system fosters fragmentation of supervisory capacity, and often leads to dramatic variations in educational quality standards between HEI’s because of lack of communication and/or cooperation between their research and teaching staff. This project aims to kickstart reform of the aspirantura system by aggregating critical mass for supervision and teaching in regional DocHubs (a model that has never been tried in Ukraine). Furthermore, the project’s approach is not just to bring together universities and AS institutes in a cooperative curriculum development effort, but also to institutionalize their cooperation through an enabling regulatory framework. The new regulations drafted and adopted within the project’s lifetime will enable inter-HEI student mobility (currently allowed by MinEdu regulations, but practically impossible due to the inability of HEIs to transfer state funds between them), and will enable licensing and accreditation of joint-PhD programs (allowed by Law, but practically impossible due to the absence of appropriate regulations).

  1. Curriculum development activites planned in this project will result in the drafting and pilotting of transferrable skills, academic writing, and speciality courses. Although some transferrable skills courses for PhD students are already offered by Ukrainian HEIs (e.g. by NaUKMA and LPNU), these are not systematically included in program design, and have not been validated in inter-HEI Doctoral Schools where students are coopted from multiple institutional settings. Furthermore, although academic writing courses currently exist at the MA level in most UA universities, their learning outcomes are not validated using internationally recognized benchmark tests (e.g. CAE), and writing proficiency among PhD students is not examined upon completion of their doctoral training, as is planned in this project. This project proposes to design and pilot classroom courses in transferrable skills and academic writing for PhD students (to adopt best practices from EU partners), with courses tailored to the needs of subject-area researchers and academics aspiring to internationalize.
  2. Finally, the current aspirantura system of speciality training is based on individual preparation for a speciality examination, generally administered immediately prior to defense – no coursework is expected, and no curricula for such courses currently exist, nor do teaching staff have experience delivering speciality courses at a PhD level. Therefore, the curriculum development and course pilotting activities planned in this project represent significant innovations for Ukraine.


P1 Vilnius University (VU)
P2 National University “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” (NaUKMA)
P3 Lviv Polytechnic National University (LPNU)
P4 Simon Kuznets Kharkiv National University of Economics (KhNUE)
P5 Oles Honchar Dnipropetrovsk National University (DNU)
P6 Institute of Higher Education of the National Academy of Educational Sciences of Ukraine (IHE)
P7 V.O. Sukhomlynskyi Mykolayiv National University (MNU)
P8 Lumiere Universite Lyon-2 (ULL2)
P9 Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT)
P10 Tampereen Yliopisto (the University of Tampere) (UTA)
P11 Institute for Economics and Forecasting of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
P12 Institute for Condensed Matter Physics of the National Academy of Sciences (ICMP)
P13 Institute for Social and Political Psychology of National Academy of Educational Sciences (ISPP)
P14 Ministry of Education and Science
P15 Institute  Of  Macromolecular Chemistry Of National  Academy  Of  Sciences Of Ukraine (Imc)