NIZAMI has been developed on the back of the BACKIS project (Erasmus Mundus Action 2), which enabled the University of Montpellier (France) to establish close relations with many Azerbaijani partners. The University of Montpellier also participated in the first two Franco-Azerbaijani Higher Education Forums organized by Campus France and the French Embassy in Azerbaijan since 2013, as well as in the 8th Azerbaijan International Education Exhibition held in Baku in 2014.

Following several meetings and exchanges with Azerbaijani Higher Education Insitutions (HEIs), it became clear that there was a real need to structure and develop Doctoral studies in accordance with European standards. In 2014, bringing together European and Azerbaijani universities recognized for their expertise and the quality of their research, the project was proposed to and welcomed by the Minister of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mr. Mikayil Jabbarov, and  the President of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (ANAS), Prof. Dr. Akif Alizadeh.

The project was later consolidated when the University of Montpellier successfully applied to the 2015 call for proposals of the Erasmus+ Programme « Capacity-Building in the Field of Higher Education » (Key Action 2 – Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices), supported by the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA).

What is a Capacity-building project ?


Capacity-building projects in the field of higher education are transnational cooperation projects supporting the modernisation, accessibility and internationalisation of higher education, based on multilateral partnerships and primarily between higher education institutions from Programme and eligible Partner Countries. They can be of two types: joint projects or structural projects. The EACEA is the EU executive agency responsible for the implementation of Key Action 2: « Capacity-Building in the Field of Higher Education » of the Erasmus+ Programme.

For further information on capacity-building projects in the field of higher education, please refer to the Erasmus+ Programme Guide.

What is NIZAMI ?

NIZAMI is a structural project, operating at macro level and targeting the national higher education governance, policies and priorities of Azerbaijan. The project is directly supporting the restructuring and development of Doctoral studies in Azerbaijan in line with the requirements of the European Higher Education Area. It will last for three years (15 October 2015 – 14 April 2019).

It involves activities such as:

  • Promoting reforms in the Azerbaijani higher education system, with a particular focus at the doctoral level;
  • Modernizing policies, governance and management of Azerbaijani HEIs involved in doctoral studies, based on the standards of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA);
  • Strengthening relations between higher education systems and the wider economic and social environment in Azerbaijan.

At international level, the modernization of doctoral studies will lead to a better recognition of the quality of research of Azerbaijani HEIs in the European Union and beyond. Therefore, the NIZAMI consortium aims to reinforce international cooperation by restructuring doctoral education through different actions :

  • Structuring doctoral schools within the HEIs and harmonization of the management of doctoral education at national level;
  • Ensuring high standards in doctoral education and improving the compatibility of Azerbaijani doctoral education with European standards;
  • Sharing tools to improve the professionalization and internationalization of doctoral studies through knowledge, complementary skills and mobility.

At national level, PhD students should enhance their professional skills to meet the needs of the regional, national and international job markets. A standardization and modernization of doctoral education will lead to a better visibility of the quality of research, as well as a greater professionalization and internationalization of doctoral studies in general. These are key necessary elements to increase the employability of PhD students in Azerbaijan and abroad.

  • Analysis of the current situation of the structure of doctoral studies in Europe and Azerbaijan;
  • Exchange of expertise and good practices;
  • Definition of doctoral studies quality standards;
  • Creation of a qualitative management system;
  • Adoption of a common structural system for Doctoral studies in Azerbaijan.

The project has been divided in 9 closely linked Work Packages, and leaders from both Europe and Azerbaijan have been identified for each of them. Those leaders have been assigned in order to facilitate the exchange of expertise between Europe and Azerbaijan.

All activities are conducted simultaneously in order to reduce costs, optimise the time allocated to the project and increase the efficiency of the consortium.