The project is globally important for PCs and EU as it addresses major environmental challenges in PCs, which are caused by poorly formulated policies, inadequate selection of management actions and the lack of suitable technology. They need to be addressed by high quality multidisciplinary and end user-oriented research.

Higher education and research in MN, UA, VN have developed for long after USSR organisational and conceptual model, and under the transition to market-based economy and globalisation of societies and economies of PCs, doctoral provision had similar problems identified by many national and international observers. For instance, although PhD/aspirantura studies in PCs are recognised as a part of HE system, they are insufficient for developing academic competencies by PhD students, both in relation to subject-specific and transferable skills. The shared problems of PCIs manifest in the poor quality of many dissertations, and in low acceptance rates of papers submitted to international journals, mostly because the research is based on inadequate knowledge of and hence reference to international literature and poor methodology. It is important to address these issues by improving the governance of doctoral training and introducing a robust QA culture.

Postgraduate education is under reform in all the PCs, and although it creates many uncertainties related to unstable regulatory environment, it also gives a good chance to catch a window of opportunities, and introduce new and better doctoral programs bringing to PCs the achievements of the European Higher Education (EHEA) and European Research Areas and adopting them to PCs’ context. Addressing the issues identified by the pre-study and previous work, the proposed action will create at PIs governance and learning infrastructure for internationally competitive, policy relevant and practice-oriented doctoral provision in the field of environment, and build capacity for its sustainable operations and expansion after the end of the project. The INTENSE programme seeks to incorporate this approach to researcher development into doctoral training in PCs. It is the first doctoral school to bring together several program countries, and the first in its regions dealing with environmental policy, management and technology.