About DocLinks project

DocLinks - Increasing Understanding and Establishing Better Links between African and European Doctoral Candidates

Summary description:

ACU has been awarded a grant by the European Commission, EACEA Erasmus Mundus Programme to implement a two year project on promoting networking between African and European doctoral candidates and early career researchers. The project Increasing Understanding and Establishing Better Links between African and European Doctoral Education Candidates (DocLinks)  aimed to enhance mutual understanding through the creation of a unique network and website bringing together African and European research students.

The specific objectives included:

Raising awareness on doctoral education in Europe and Africa through implementation of residential schools targeted at addressing the needs of PhDs and early career researchers.
Creating first ever single publicity channel for bringing together the resources such as PhD study, Post-Doctoral Fellowships and research opportunities offered by European higher education and science to an audience of African PhDs
Establishment of contact and exchange between the groups of doctoral candidates and early career researchers in Europe and Africa through development of virtual platform for communication.

The target groups that directly benefit from the project are:

African doctoral candidates undertaking PhDs in Africa
African doctoral candidates undertaking PhDs in Europe
European doctoral candidates undertaking PhDs in Europe
European doctoral candidates undertaking PhDs in Africa
PhD scholars who have completed PhDs and are within the first three years of their academic career
Students planning to undertake PhD studies

The objectives of the project has been achieved through implementation of main activities including initial needs analysis, development of EU-Africa Doctoral Network and development of EU-Africa Doctoral Website. Two residential schools were organised within the project and provided an opportunity for face to face contact between African and European doctoral students and  intensive discussion opportunities on issues concerned with the development of higher education and doctoral education in particular in Europe and Africa.

The principal outputs from the project are as follows:

  • A detailed needs assessment of current provision for networking amongst doctoral students is published to inform future provision at government and institutional level.
  • A unique network of communication between European and African doctoral students. This aims to broaden the horizons of each, provide a forum for sharing ideas and best practice and increase collaboration at both institutional and individual level. The network allows for users to develop their own special interest groups for direct communication, and also provides a route for direct communication with users in particular areas – for example in promoting new courses, scholarships or conferences. It also provides a new tool for directly surveying the target community on specific issues.
  • The first ever web site with a particular aim to attract both European and African research students and young research staff. The site provides a new vehicle for promoting opportunities for doctoral education in Europe, and brings together collaborative opportunities in a single place. The site is structured to accommodate the main needs of the audience (as identified through the needs analysis).
  • The establishment of a highly competitive, annual residential school to facilitate direct interaction between future research leaders from Europe and Africa.

The specifically chosen partnership is balanced to involve key players from regions concerned and members of the consortium are major organizations consulted by decision makers before the relevant policies are proposed.

The long-term exploitation of the results of the project will be achieved through presentations of the main findings and recommendations for future action to major policy makers in higher education both in Europe and Africa. As the project is uniquely designed to address the needs of doctoral education and links between EU and Africa, it is expected that the results will be of interest to policy makers in this field and will feed future development of strategic plans in this area.


The Association of Commonwealth Universities, United Kingdom (Coordinator)

Eurodoc, The European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers, Belgium

French Speaking University Agency, Belgium

Irish African Partnership for Research Capacity Building, Ireland

Finnish University Partnership for International Development - UniPID/University of Jyväskylä, Finland

University of Botswana, Botswana

African Academy of Sciences, Kenya

The DocLinks project is co-financed by European Commission Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency Erasmus Mundis Programme.