Norway giving NOK 1 billion to developing countries for higher education and research

Challenges in developing countries should be addressed where they arise, by local experts. Therefore, the Norwegian government increases its support to the NORHED partnership, which aims to enhance the quality of higher education in poor countries. The goal is to give more young people in developing countries a job-relevant higher education that benefits society.

“Local experts and researchers play a key role in the efforts needed to achieve the sustainable development goals. Through partnerships between higher education institutions in Norway and developing countries, we contribute to the generation of knowledge and local expertise for sustainable development in our partner countries,” says Dag-Inge Ulstein, Norway’s Minister of International Development.

Norway is therefore now giving more than NOK 1 billion to developing countries for higher education and research. The money will be distributed over the next six years through the NORHED II programme, which is managed by Norad.

“By helping to improve the quality of higher education in developing countries and working together to strengthen their academic institutions, we make a key contribution to the development of society and the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” says Bård Vegar Solhjell, Director General, Norad.

Local expertise

“We need our high-level experts, who can solve problems, do research and develop policies. We also need experts who can serve as professionals, teachers and instructors. And they are all coming out of higher education institutions,” stresses Professor Hirut Woldemariam, Minister of Science and Higher Education in Ethiopia.

Woldemariam recently visited Norway and described how her own academic and political career is largely the result of the opportunity she was given to participate in the NORHED partnership.

Through the NORHED programme, a network of researchers and higher education institutions has been built up in a number of developing countries. These work in partnership with Norwegian researchers and universities according to a so-called ‘North-South-South model’.

“Worldwide, the number of students taking higher education has doubled since 2000. We have also seen an increase in low-income countries, but this has been at the expense of the quality of education programmes and teaching,” explains Norad’s Director General.


The development of NORHED II is based on lessons learned from NORHED I (2013-2020) and reinforces have been made. The intended impacts of the programme are better qualified workforce, applied sustainable solutions and practises, evidence-based policies and enhanced gender equality and inclusion.

The intended outcome of NORHED II is to enable partner institutions in developing countries to produce higher-quality graduates, more and higher-quality research and more inclusive higher education.

The NORHED II programme is organised in six thematic sub-programmes, reflecting Norwegian development priorities and the global goals. The six areas are 1) education and teacher training, 2) health, 3) climate change and natural resources, 4) political and economic governance, 5) humanities and social sciences and 6) energy.

NORHED II will give priority to countries identified as partner countries in Norway’s development policy; Colombia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Malawi, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Palestine, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

Norad aims at signing agreements under the NORHED II programme by the end of 2020 for projects to begin early 2021.

NORHED and higher education

  • Worldwide, the number of students taking higher education has doubled since 2000.

  • There are large regional disparities in the proportion of young people taking higher education. In Europe and North America, the enrolment rate for higher education is 75 per cent, compared to only 8 per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Through the NORHED programme, Norway has supported almost 50 projects since 2013, which has led to the development of more than 240 study programmes, primarily at the master and doctoral levels, with over 19 500 students enrolled since 2013. Over 2300 students have received a grant, 52 per cent of whom are women.

  • Over the next six years, Norway will be giving more than NOK 1 billion to developing countries for higher education and research through NORHED II. The goals are 1) Strengthening the quality of education, 2) Ensuring the inclusion of marginalised groups, and 3) Ensuring that education is job-relevant.

  • NORHED provides support for the development of new or existing education programmes, as well as grants for master’s and doctoral degrees to employees at higher education institutions in order to enhance their competence. Support for joint research projects and administrative capacity building is also an important part of the NORHED partnership.
Published 11.03.2020
Last updated 20.03.2020