Called “Creative Spark“, the project will support existing partnerships between UK HEIs and their counterparts in the specified regions, or alternatively support the creation of new links.
“There are nowhere near enough collaborations in this area”
The Council will make £4m worth of funding available for up to 22 successful applicants, with £50,000 available to each.
Richard Everitt, the Council’s regional director education and society, told The PIE News the funding initiative came about because although there are some partnerships in this area, there is appetite for more.
“There are a range of university collaborations between UK and those program countries – for example the University of Leicester with the Azerbaijan University of Architecture and Construction in Baku, and Goldsmiths with universities in Kazakhstan – but nowhere near enough,” he said.
The funding will be available to any HE or “creative” institutions, Everitt said, but “[British Council] would expect them to have experience in either delivering enterprise skills to students, have entrepreneur centres and support business incubation,” he added.
Although the program will not initially or directly support student or staff mobility between the partner institutions, Everitt said he expects the partnerships to eventually lead to mobility and joint teaching initiatives.
The areas selected for the project, which include Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, were so chosen as part of a new regional strategy for the Council. Everitt also revealed the plan for an extension to include Turkey in the second year of the project.
“Program countries were selected based on British Council’s regional education strategy, and the countries education priorities for international engagement. We plan expand the programme to include Turkey in year two,” he said.
In a statement, the British Council said it will also “develop new digital content to help young people strengthen their English language skills, whilst learning about entrepreneurship through a series of free online courses”.
It has been confirmed to The PIE that these courses will include: CV tips, mentoring, personal brand, public speaking, managing finances, and freelancing. They will be delivered through video.