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Representatives of the consortium members of the ERASMUS +KA 2 CBHE international project “Universities Communities: strengthening cooperation” UNICOM #101083077 joined the round table ” Challenges for Universities and Communities: the Role of the Third Mission Offices at Ukrainian Universities in Their Solution”. The purpose of the event was to discuss the concept of the third mission office, as a hub of cooperation between Universities and communities and solving the problems of public administration at the national and regional levels.

Project coordinators Diana Spulber and Mariia Nesterova addressed the participants with a welcome speech. They spoke about the purpose of creating such centers on the bases of Universities.

During the event, the following problems faced by Ukrainian Universities in the implementation of the third mission were identified: lack of conceptualization; lack of regulatory support, as a result of which Universities provide the third mission at their discretion; lack of state funding; lack of a distinct structural system of motivation among the representatives of communities and higher education institutions.

In her report Tetiana Konovalenko presented the results of the first work package, noting that the planned activities were carried out in full – implementation of the work plan of the project, development of the website and the pages of the project in social networks, holding thematic conferences and researches. “The third mission and joint efforts will make Universities and communities more sustainable,” Tetiana Konovalenko admitted.

Oksana Golovko-Gavrysheva paid attention to the practices of European and national Universities, their systematization and the importance of studying the experience that is mutually beneficial.

Yehor Nazymko, first vice-rector of the Donetsk State University of Internal Affairs, also joined the discussion from the studio of the Mariupol State University in Kyiv. He emphasized the necessity for cooperation between Universities in the area of developing the third mission in educational institutions. “Today, it is extremely important for us to join efforts in implementing the third mission of Universities. One of these examples is the synergy of the UNICOM project with the other international project – “Open educational space for students and the community” (EDUSPACE), which the University has implemented in cooperation with the Mariupol State University, and today we have held the final conference,” Yehor Nazymko noted.

Olena Orzhel, presented the vision project of the Third Mission Offices, their structure and strategy of functioning in Ukrainian Universities.

Vlada Shmalii spoke about the community’s expectations from Universities, highlighting ways of cooperation. 

The representatives of the ministries shared their expectations with the participants of the round table.

During the presentation of the second work package of the project, its purpose was determined as improvement of the University management and sustainability with a focus on social responsibility and the community. As well as the development of cooperation between target groups of the project, stakeholders, the University and the community, making emphasis on European experience and practices in the field of inclusion, gender equality, ecology, civic and dual education, Universities of the third age.

Among the main tasks were – reporting on the completed measures within the first work package – research and exchange of experience; the second dissemination conference “Sustainable Universities and Sustainable Communities”, development of project policy regarding the third mission of Universities, which is presented to local authorities or the Ministry of Education and Culture of Ukraine; educational kits for building the potential of Ukrainian partner Universities. 

The third mission of Universities has been analyzed and the best practices of EU partner Universities have been selected. Then study results of the relevant national experience of foreign partners have been given.

Particular attention was paid to practices carried out in higher education institutions of Ukraine, including the sociological study “Social responsibility in higher education institutions of Ukraine”. Respondents were able to answer the question “What factors hinder the development of University social responsibility?” Among the most common answers were – ignorance regarding the implementation of social responsibility by foreign HEIs, lack of information exchange, lack of positive experience and the best practices in the implementation of social responsibility by Ukrainian HEIs.

Dimensions and forms of implementation of the third mission of Universities were discussed. As a result, the following conclusions were made: the third mission can be regulated by internal legal acts, institutionalized through University strategies, missions, programs. All representatives of the University community should be participants in its implementation. For their active involvement, it is necessary to establish internal communications and clarify the benefits of interaction.

All the participants of the project unanimously supported the idea that the post-war recovery of Ukraine cannot be implemented without participation of the HEI. Therefore, the recognition of this fact poses the following questions to the academic community: ways of legitimizing the participation of higher education institutions in recovery processes and projects; ways to attract and include representatives of the academic environment in project recovery teams.