On 25 November 2020, HERAS Plus Project donors organized an event marking the official Kickoff of the Project. The launching event took place in the online platforms. The event attracted interest and attendance of over 75 participants representing all the Project stakeholders, including the Project donor institutions, the Project implementing organizations, representatives of public Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), experts and academicians as well as members of the Media.
HERAS Plus is jointly funded by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and the Ministry of Education and Science (MES). On behalf of MES, Minister Ramë Likaj thanked the Austrian taxpayers, the Austrian donor (ADA) and the Austrian implementing organizations (WUS AT, ZSI, OeAD) for their valuable contribution in the development of education in Kosovo. The Minister, expressed his admiration for the Austrian best practices in the field of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Applied Sciences and noted that HERAS Plus Project, is an ideal platform through which the necessary developmental interventions can be made in Kosovo.
The Austrian Ambassador to Kosovo, His Excellency Mr. Christoph Weidinger, addressed the Project kickoff event. The Ambassador emphasized that Austrian donors are committed to support Kosovo in undertaking the necessary reforms to make the Higher Education system in Kosovo harmonized with the European standards. HERAS Plus Project, noted the Ambassador, is “a demonstration of our commitment to the support the efforts of Kosovo in establishing modern, competitive, transparent, and well-functioning education system that is line with the standards and principles of the EU.”
HERAS Plus Project Team Leader in Kosovo, Mr. Aqim Emurli, offered an overall presentation of the Project. The Team Leader, Mr. Emurli, briefly presented the Project background, Project outcomes, outputs, and indicators, as well the Project methodology and the intervention logic. Mr. Emurli, reiterated that the ‘HERAS Plus’ is built on the lesson-learned from the previous HERAS project and that the Project Team has developed all the necessary tools for a successful implementation of the Project. The Team Leader thanked the Project stakeholders and beneficiaries for their systematic cooperation.
The representatives of the three implementing organizations, the Consortium of WUS Austria, ZSI and OeAD addressed the Kickoff Event. Ms. Veronika Nitsche addressed the event on behalf of WUS Austria, which is also the Consortium Lead. Mr. Gorazd Weiss addressed the event on behalf of Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI), whereas Mr. Ulrich Hoermann spoke on behalf of the Austrian Agency for International Cooperation in Education and Research (OeAD). The Consortium members presented their organizations, and the role that each organization plays in the context of HERAS Plus Project implementation. In addition, the Consortium members, during their presentations, launched the Project Calls for Application for programs within their portfolio, including: Programmatic Partnerships (managed by WUS AT), Research Grants (managed by ZSI), and PhD and PostDoc Fellowships (managed by OeAD).
The event was co-moderated by Ms. Diellza Kukaj, Minister’s Political Advisor, and Mr. Aqim Emurli, Team Leader in HERAS Plus. The event generated a lot of interest from participants and resulted in some very insightful comments and interaction. The event was widely reported on the local media, where it was assessed to be a success story.