The three and a half year journey started with great enthusiasm driven by the common desire amongst partners to build a sustainable ecosystem in the respective member universities to support the production of globally competitive PhD’s. It is a globally recognised fact that PhD’s are the foundation of academic life and a key driver of innovation. By focusing on the strengthening the internationalisation of PhD’s studies, the YEBO Project presented an opportunity for mutual learning, benchmarking and leapfrogging for all partners.
Throughout the YEBO project timeline, many interventions were undertaken to strengthen inter- cultural competences, structural services to support international mobility and enhance the international quality, development of a toolbox for supervision, networking and exchange of the best practices amongst others. These interventions brought together all stakeholders in the PhD value-chain including academics/supervisors, administrators, university leaders, PhD candidates, early career academics and funders. Many moments of shared learning and growth were availed through these interventions. As the Covid – 19 pandemic upended our reality, the YEBO Project timeline was adjusted and new ways of working adopted. With all these challenges, the project achieved its objectives owing to the unwavering commitment of all the partners.
From the 12th to 14th April 2021, the YEBO project will hold its final conference organised collaboratively by all partners and hosted online by the University of Pretoria and the University of Uppsala. The conference themed “Internationalisation of the PhD: from possibilities of today to challenges of the future” will include a set of great activities with a specific emphasis on core aspects of the Doctoral Studies: modernisation and supervision. Among all, we will have sessions involving speakers from YEBO partner institutions, from the South African Ministry of Higher Education Science and Innovation, from the European Commission, government representatives, funding agencies representatives amongst others. Participants will also be given the chance to take part in a virtual collaborative activity called « World Café ». On the final day, PhD students will take on the challenge to present their thesis and research process with scientific posters or three-minute presentations in front of a very demanding crowd and jury.
As the final YEBO conference marks the end of the project, it also provides an opportunity to investigate YEBO development during its lifespan, its contribution to the South African national plan for doctoral education, the current position of the South African doctoral studies and students and what challenges remain to address. And we trust that thanks to YEBO’s contribution, when the blue sky of Pretoria will welcome the summer light and the winter will cover the streets of Montpellier again, there will be assessed knowledge, developed methodologies and skills to face remaining challenges and foster doctoral students with a strong internationalisation and supervision for the future.
CO-Funded by the Erasmus+ Proramme of the European Union