The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) COMPASS project has been shortlisted for the International Collaboration of the Year at the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards 2021, widely known as ‘the Oscars of Higher Education’

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) COMPASS project, hosted by the University of Kent in partnership with the University of Cambridge (UK), ADA University (Azerbaijan), Belarusian State University (Belarus), TNU (Tajikistan) and the University of World Economy and Diplomacy (Uzbekistan), has been shortlisted for the International Collaboration of the Year at the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards 2021.

The GCRF COMPASS project works with higher education institutions (HEIs) from former Soviet Republics to develop global partnerships and more sustainable learning capacities through resilience in the face of adversity and crisis. Led by Professor Elena Korosteleva, in partnership with Dr Siddharth Saxena (COI, Cambridge), Rosalind Beeching (Project Manager, Kent) and Prajakti Kalra (Research & Communication Officer, Cambridge), the GCRF COMPASS consortium involves six Research Institutions, 24 members of staff and 100 affiliates. For its success it owes especially to the younger generation of scholars including but not limited to Dr Irina Petrova, Dr Muzaffer Kutlay, Dr Diana Kudaibergenova and Dr Anastasiya Kudlenko for their incredible enthusiasm, dedication and scholarship!

The project has been recognised by the judge’s panel of THE Awards 2021 for its creative collaborations, imaginative communication of research results, and tremendous achievements in difficult circumstances of war, conflict, uprisings, Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supported by its International Advisory Board of policymakers, practitioners and academics across the globe, GCRF COMPASS fosters excellence through successful research integration, policy impact and community engagement. Despite the complex challenges both in the UK and the region, the project team, represented in the region by national team leads – Nargiz Ismayilova; Artsiom Nazaranka; Munira Shahidi and Ulugbeck Hasanov – has built close relationships, resulting in new research projects, international training schools for Early Career Scholars, Future Leaders Policy Forums, academic workshops and seminars and signature conferences. The result has been educational partnerships and the project outputs have informed peace and reconciliation between former adversaries and investing in a more sustainable future for the region and beyond.

The project team helped its partners, both in the UK and the region, to nurture signature specialisms to become global hubs in resilience (Kent and Cambridge), migration (Belarus), connectivity (Azerbaijan), regional security (Uzbekistan) and cultural diplomacy (Tajikistan). The project has produced 9 monographs and edited volumes; 6 Special Issues; over 100 journal articles and policy briefs.

Professor Korosteleva said: ‘We are delighted that the GCRF COMPASS project has been shortlisted for International Collaboration of the Year. GCRF COMPASS has succeeded to deliver, in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic, civil unrest, border conflicts, war and other complex challenges. Exceeding ambitions, the project has produced nearly 300 publications, 7 follow-up projects, with over 40 virtual conferences and workshops in the last year alone. We are proud to have created sustainable links within the region, which were impossible a few years ago and proved that real partnerships build true resilience. We look forward to expanding our research network in the future, to foster excellence in the UK, and globally.’

Dr Saxena ( Cambridge), Project CO-I said that ‘the opportunity offered by this collaborative endeavor has allowed us to draw together multiple threads of research directions, relationships and capacity from across Central Eurasia, UK and Europe into long-lasting strategies for development and progress. Through our project we have been able to weave this robust and colourful narrative of collaboration, like a carpet, which will continue be useful for us and others for the times to come.’

The THE Awards 2021 ceremony takes place on 25 November 2021.