This is an Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility project of the Faculty of Science and Leiden University College with four universities in Nigeria.
Leiden University coordinators:
- Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs, Leiden University College (LUC), project coordinator: David Ehrhardt
- Faculty of Science, Leiden Observatory, project coordinator: Michelle Willebrands
Partner institutions for Leiden University College:
- University of Jos
- Bayero University Kano
Partner institutions for Science, Leiden Observatory:
- University of Nigeria
- NASRDA-Center for Basic Space Science and Astronomy
Type of mobility:
- Staff exchange
Leiden University College (LUC) is a liberal arts and sciences college, focusing on studying and teaching about global challenges. Providing access to students and staff from low-income countries is high on the agenda, together with internationalisation and ‘decolonisation’ of the educational curriculum. Input from Nigerian colleagues would help to improve LUC’s recruitment and admissions policies, as well as enriching its teaching practices. It would also enable existing research collaborations to be developed further. Bayero University Kano and the University of Jos are prominent universities in Nigeria, particularly in history and the social sciences. They are natural partners of LUC, given their shared focus on research and teaching and their interest in international collaborations.
The European Regional Office of Astronomy for Development (E-ROAD) at Leiden University regards exchanges with the ROAD office based at the NASRDA-Center for Basic Space Science and Astronomy in Nigeria and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka as an important strategic goal. Both offices are part of a global network, the International Astronomical Union, and one of the aims is to share research and management expertise worldwide to stimulate capacity building. The University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) accounts for the education of over 90% of astronomers in the region, who stand to benefit from the training offered in this Erasmus+ ICM project.
This exchange programme will strengthen collaboration between Leiden and the Nigerian partners by allowing them to learn from each other’s specialised academic and educational methods. The programme will enable Nigerian scholars to work and teach at Leiden University, and Leiden staff will be able to provide training in transferable academic and project skills at the Nigerian institutes.
For Leiden University College (LUC), internationalising the classroom and facilitating student exchange are important strategic goals, as stated in its most recent Strategic Plan. LUC is a liberal arts and sciences college, focused on studying and teaching about global challenges. Although the student and staff body is already quite diverse, provision of access to students and staff from low-income countries, especially in Africa, has remained high on the agenda. Input from Nigerian colleagues would be highly beneficial in improving LUC’s recruitment and admissions policies, as well as enriching its teaching practices. There are also long-standing research collaborations between LUC academics and Nigerian universities that would benefit tremendously from this exchange project. Nigeria is therefore a logical strategic partner for LUC.
Bayero University Kano and the University of Jos are prominent universities in Nigeria, particularly in history and the social sciences. Both universities also have strong interests in internationalisation. They are natural partners of Leiden University, given their shared interest in socially relevant research and teaching as well as the interfaces of social sciences and other disciplines. As an indication of the importance of internationalisation, Bayero University recently created a dedicated Directorate of Research, Innovation and Partnership, specifically to enhance international partnerships in research. Similarly, the University of Jos identified internationalisation as one of its seven key priorities in its most recent strategic plan. This priority specifically included the aim to “encourage partnerships with [...] Foreign Higher Education Institutions for joint use of resources and exchange of staff and students”.
The International Astronomical Union’s European Regional Office of Astronomy for Development (E-ROAD) at Leiden University regards exchanges with the West African ROAD office, based at the NASRDA-Center for Basic Space Science and Astronomy in Nigeria and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, as an important strategic goal. Both offices are part of this global network, and one of the aims is to share research and management expertise. This equips astronomers in low-income countries with the necessary technical and soft skills to stimulate capacity building. Exchanges between the E-ROAD and the West African ROAD in Nigeria will increase Nigerian research capacity in astronomy and project management, and will build skills that can be applied within and outside academia. The E-ROAD, in return, can learn from the track record of “astronomy for development” activities at the ROAD office in Nigeria, which has more experience in this field.
The internationalisation strategy of NASRDA-CBSSA is to ensure that members of staff have access to the best available facilities in astronomy, enabling them to improve in the professional skills required for a career in space science. These skills will also be valuable for young researchers in a career outside academia. The mandate of NASRDA-CBSSA is to collaborate with international and local organisations that will help to develop Nigerian astronomy. This mobility program will enhance the Center’s human capital because the participants will serve as pioneers in the management of proposed upcoming astronomy facilities. When they return, they will act as mentors to the larger pool of scientists at the Center. Leiden University has the relevant knowledge of astronomy and modern teaching methods to train the Nigerian staff in topics and methodologies that are currently lacking.
University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) is one of the leading universities in Nigeria, accounting for the training of over 90% of astronomers in the region. Its overarching priority is to have a strong global presence. Internationalisation strategies of its education and research involve encouraging staff and students to study abroad, recruiting international staff and students and internationalisation of faculty teaching and research activities. The mobility project will widen the scope of UNN’s international collaborations and enable staff to learn from expertise within Leiden University.
The staff exchanges will include 2-month visits by Nigerian staff members to Leiden University, during which they will not only be trained but will also engage in teaching Leiden students and building collaborations for research, teaching, training and further mobility.
The project collaboration will also allow for three visits by Leiden staff members to Nigerian partners to organise courses for junior academics. These will include transferable academic and project skills for both astronomers and social scientists, as well as more specialised training in advanced analytical techniques and grant-writing/publication strategies in astronomy and social sciences.
During these visits, Leiden staff will also engage in teaching Nigerian students and learn about Nigerian teaching methods and university dynamics. All the visits under this programme will be used to explore further internationalisation opportunities, including student exchange and Nigerian student access to Leiden University.
Overall, this Erasmus+ collaboration aims to develop the human capacity in the Nigerian partner institutes and further internationalise Leiden University’s research and education environments.