Engagement without Recognition – Higher Education in De Facto States

Project coordinaton: Dr. Sabine von Löwis in cooperation with Thomas de Waal

The project analyses the situation of universities in de facto states and how they network with international partners. It focuses on people’s basic right to education and training, regardless of whether or not their state and its institutions are internationally recognised. In de facto states, universities, students and researchers have limited opportunities to participate in international programmes or to benefit from cross-border mobility. There are multiple reasons for this, relating to de facto statehood itself, the willingness of universities in de facto states to engage with external partners, and the restrictions on international university cooperation with institutions in de facto states.

A key question explored by the project is to what extent it is possible and desirable to advocate from an international perspective for stronger links with universities in de facto states and for their closer integration into the European university landscape in order to create new opportunities for researchers and students. The project thus contributes to a better understanding of dynamics in de facto states.

As the main focus of interest, the project examines international relations established by universities in various de facto states (Northern Cyprus, Abkhazia and Transnistria), particularly research links, opportunities for student exchange, participation in international research funding programmes and language learning. It seeks to ascertain which methodologies are being adopted in the various contexts and pinpoint areas where there is scope for development. The project identifies internal and external barriers, compares good practices and creates scope for potential engagement.