• ATHENA Project

    Fostering Sustainable and Autonomous
    Higher Education Systems
    in the Eastern Neighbouring Area

  • Focus

    University autonomy and funding reforms
    in Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine

  • Objectives

    Transfer of good practice
    Promotion of inclusive approaches
    Capacity building in university management


European Commission commends ATHENA consortium for sustainability of project results in Moldova


As part of the Commission’s on-going monitoring of Tempus IV activities in the Partner Countries, a field monitoring visit took place between April and May 2017 in several different places in Moldova, among others, at the premises of Athena partners.

The National Tempus Office in Moldova met and discussed the results and impact of the project with theTempus project coordinator as well as local representatives of the Moldovan Institutions involved in the Athena Project. Below is the report received by EUA, as coordinator, from the Commission’s Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). ATHENA partners are called on maintaining links from their institutional websites to the ATHENA website to continue promoting the results of the project.


EACEA thanks all representatives for the time they devoted to the discussions and for having provided updated information on the impact and the evolution of the project results. The type of monitoring was aimed at assessing the impact of project results as the visit took place 18 months after the end date of the project.

All project participants met during the visit highlighted the success of the project and the important impact of this project on the development and modernisation of the higher education system in the Republic of Moldova.

The ATHENA project is a sustainable project in Moldova firstly because the policy analysis of the country`s higher education system has been assessed, a policy roadmap as well as the Human Resources Management Toolkit have been elaborated and proposed to be implemented at the national level. The substantial impact of the ATHENA project was assured by the elaborated action plan with remaining challenges and concrete steps to address, complemented by the levels of priority and feasibility for each. The ATHENA project implementation was held in the period of the development and public discussions about the new Code of Education of the Republic of Moldova. So, the majority of project objectives were achieved exactly in the period of the elaboration of the new HE legal framework and a large part of the consortium's proposals and visions can be found in the provisions of the new Code of Education. The participants at the monitoring visits, including the Ministry of Education representative, have stressed the impact of the ATHENA project to build a constructive dialogue between the ministry and universities in order to facilitate further reforms implementation.

EACEA learned with pleasure that one of the active participants of the ATHENA project team (former vice-rector of FIUM) was appointed as a Principal State Councillor of the Prime Minister on societal policies. In the monitors' opinion, the appointment of the specialist, formed in the frame of the project and involved in the elaboration of all project analysis and policy roadmap for Moldova, is a strong argument in favour of the sustainability of the ATHENA project results in Moldova.

The project’s overall objectives and thematic remain relevant for Moldova even after 18 months. The new legal framework in Education (Code of Education 2014) provides the model of dual university governance - the University Senate and the Council for Institutional Strategic Development which includes external members. This governing structure is implemented by Moldovan HEIs since May 2015. One year after implementation of this new governing model, during 2016-2017, two national seminars were organised on the university governance and human resources management in HEIs as a part of the activities of Higher Education Reform Experts. The mentioned topics were solicited as the most relevant for technical assistance missions (TAM). EUA’s Thomas Estermann was recommended as the TAM expert for the national seminar “University Governance Structures after one year of functioning: evaluating challenges and accomplishments”.  During both seminars the results of the ATHENA project were recommended for use and consultation by experts and by the Ministry of Education representative. The seminars have generated great interest and have gathered together more than 250 participants, representatives from all Moldovan HEIs, rectors, vice-rectors, members of the new elected Councils for Institutional Strategic Development, heads of university human resources departments, deans and head of university chairs.

The Human Resources Management Toolkit developed in the framework of the project offers advice and best practices to the university leaders and managers in order to develop the changes for obtaining the sustainable and autonomous higher education institutions. The involvement in the project of the National Rectors ‘Council has allowed to form rectors and vice-rectors, including from 10 least involved in Erasmus projects Moldovan universities, in university autonomy, financial management and human resources development topics. Thereby, the activities within the ATHENA project helped universities to elaborate or revise a number of university documents and regulations, for example:

  • the University Charter;
  • the University Statute;
  • the Regulation on the organization and functioning of the university management bodies;
  • the Regulation of the University Senate;
  • the Regulation of the university normative of scientific and didactic activities;
  • the university methodology for calculating the study fees etc.

Many universities have established the position of vice-rector on financial issues, a position that has not existed until now in the organizational chart of Moldovan universities. Often, in this position was elected or appointed one of the participants of the ATHENA project team.

The Moldovan project participants emphasized also the important impact at the individual level of the ATHENA project. The project teamwork for the elaboration of country`s higher education system assessment using the Autonomy Scorecard methodology allows to transfer the good practices and build the professional capacities for Moldovan universities to modernise the management of financial and human resources, to promote the efficient and effective governance and funding reforms.

The Moldovan partner universities are actively involved in the national and international conferences, workshop and seminars in order to facilitate the dissemination of the ATHENA project results.

The ATHENA project website is still operational, contains a wide range of information about the project and its implementation and results, in compliance with contractual publicity obligations. In order to facilitate the dissemination and the take-up beyond the ATHENA partnership, project materials (analysis, policy roadmap, toolkits etc.) are published on the project website also in Romanian version (as well as in Ukrainian and Armenian versions).

Taking into consideration the relevance of the ATHENA project for Moldova and the high interest for its results it is recommended to maintain functional the ATHENA project website with links to and from the partner HEIs websites.

All project participants met stressed the high quality of collaboration during the ATHENA project lifetime and especially the contribution of the project coordinator team. It is therefore recommended to continue this collaboration through more bilateral or multilateral inter-institutional agreements, international mobility projects and future international cooperation projects.

  • Yerevan State University
  • Gavar State University
  • State Engineering University of Armenia
  • State Universities Rectors Council of Armenia
  • Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia
  • Academy of Economic Studies of Moldova
  • Cahul State University
  • Free International University of Moldova
  • National Council of Rectors of Moldova
  • Ministry of Education of Moldova
  • Taras Shevchenko National University of Kiev
  • Donetsk National University
  • Odessa National University
  • Lesya Ukrainka Eastern European National University
  • Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine
  • University of Coimbra
  • Polytechnic Institute of Coimbra
  • University of Helsinki
  • Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences
  • University of Amsterdam
  • European University Association