Strong competition for university partnership funding
The launch of NORHED II in March encouraged North-South-South university partnerships to submit joint project proposals for capacity building of higher education and research. By the deadline 29 June, Norad had received 199 applications, which is an increase in the numbers from the last NORHED call back in 2013.
“The increase in number of applications since the last call indicates a clear interest and need for continued support to capacity building of higher education and research in developing countries. We are particularly pleased to see the strong interest and dedication by Norwegian higher education institutions to embark development collaboration”, NORHED coordinator Jeanette da Silva explains.
The applicant institution in NORHED II are Norwegian higher education institution accredited by NOKUT. In total, 17 Norwegian higher education institutions are applying for project funds.
97 percent of the applications included one of the 12 partner countries prioritised in the call. 50 percent include Ethiopia, followed by Uganda and Tanzania. Outside of Sub-Saharan African, Nepal and Colombia have the highest number of applications in Asia and Latin America.
There is a clear geographical concentration on where the projects will be implemented, however, there is a different dimension to the projects that the NORHED coordinator is excited to monitor.
“The broad number of partners and countries involved demonstrates more extensive South-South collaboration compared to the previous programme period (NORHED I). It will be interesting to see which effect this can have on strengthen regional South-South academic networks.”
Multiplicity in themes and partnerships
Of the six sub-programmes of the NORHED II call, 50 percent of the applications where submitted within the programme of Health or Climate change and natural resources. However, most applications are multi- and interdisciplinary and cuts across several thematic areas as well as several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Project partners are mainly higher education institutions. NORHED II has, however, opened up for inclusion of other types of project partners. Applications reflect a wider range in regards of type of partners, including research institutes, civil society organisations (CSOs), international organisations, governmental institutions and private sector.
Norad has already assessed the applications on formal criteria. 190 application passed through to the next step. Now the applications will be assessed by Independent Review Committees (IRC) established for each thematic sub-programme.
The IRCs will assess relevance and quality of project design, as well as partnership and implementation. Projects that are recommended for funding will then be shared with Norwegian embassies in relevant countries, and Norad’s technical departments.
Applicants can expect a final decision in November, with startup of new projects early 2021.
Strong higher education institutions with the capacity to deliver quality and inclusive education and research is a necessity for universities to play an important role in addressing social, economic and environmental challenges, da Silva explains.
”The first phase of NORHED (2013-2020) has produced important results that have contributed to capacity development of universities in a number of thematic fields and disciplines, with significant societal impact. We are very excited about the received applications for NORHED II, and look forward to the next phase of the programme”.