FAQ to the NORHED II call for proposals

Norad has gathered a number frequently asked questions related to the NORHED II call for proposals.

The NORHED II call for proposals aims to strengthen the capacity of higher education institutions in developing countries to produce higher-quality graduates, more and higher-quality research, and more inclusive higher education. The call for proposals was announced 10 March 2020. 

Norad gathers the most frequently asked questions here, in order to provide the same response to all potential applicants.

If you cannot find the answer to your question(s) related to the call for proposals here, please send us your question(s) to the following email address: norhed@norad.no. The FAQ will be updated regularly up until 12 June, 2020. 

The FAQ was last updated 26.06.20

Frequently asked questions

Click on the plus sign to see all questions under each category

1. Application deadline

Q: Will Norad postpone the application deadline given the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19)?
A: Due to the persistency of the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Norad has extended the application deadline until 26 June, 2020, at 13:00 CEST. 

Update 26 June: Due to technical problems in the Grants Portal the application deadline is extended until Monday 29 June, CEST 13:00.

2. Eligible partners and countries

Q: Can project proposals consist of a university in a prioritised country together with a partner in a non-prioritised country, e.g Kenya?
A: Regional South-South collaboration is encouraged, and projects may therefore (in addition to prioritised countries) also include partners in other developing countries (Least Developed Countries and Lower Middle Income Countries) with the objective of South-South capacity building.

Upper Middle income Countries, such as South Africa, can also be included, but first and foremost for the purpose to contribute to capacity development in one of the priority countries or other Least Developed Countries.

For more information about eligible countries, please see the Programme Document page 24, "5.1 Geographical priorities".

Q: Our partnership does not include any of the 12 prioritised partner countries, can we still apply?
A: NORHED II gives priority to 12 countries identified as partner countries in Norway’s development policy. Project proposals that do not include one of the prioritised countries may be eligible to apply, but the applicant should take note that competition for funding is expected to be high. In cases where it is not relevant to include any of the prioritised countries, this should be justified in the application and then taken into consideration when assessing the application.

Q: Can partners that are not higher education institutions be included in a project proposal?
A: The requirement regarding prospective partners is that the project must, as a minimum, consist of one accredited higher education institutions in Norway and one accredited higher education institution in a developing country. In addition, the project may include other relevant actors (in Norway and developing countries) that are relevant for the implementation of the project. This may include research institutions, but also actors outside academia such as civil society organisations (CSOs), public sector and private sector. Each and every partner must have a clear role and responsibility in the project, contributing to the overall objective of the project.

Q: Can universities in other European countries be partners in a NORHED project?
A: NORHED is based on collaboration between higher education institutions in Norway and developing countries. Universities in other European countries may be partners in a project, but are not eligible for funding as these fall outside the scope of the NORHED programme and Norwegian development collaboration in general.

Q: How many partners can we include in a project application?
A: NORHED projects shall consist of minimum one higher education institution in a developing country and minimum one higher education institution in Norway. There are no restrictions/limitations as to number of additional partners in a project. What is important is that every partner should have a clear role and responsibility in the project, and thus contribute towards the project’s overall objective.

Q: Can south-south collaboration be between institutions within the same country, i.e. two universities?
A: Yes, South-South collaboration can be between institutions within the same country, or between countries/regions.

Q: Can Norwegian University Hospitals (responsible for education of MD specialists) qualify as a higher education institution, and hence apply?
A: The Norwegian University Hospitals can be part of a project, but not be the lead institution in an application.

Q: Will research institutes (or other non-HEI partners) be able to participate as a sub-contractor to a HEI, or can they be included as an equal partner in a consortium?
A: Other relevant actors (other than accredited HEIs, both in Norway and in developing countries), like a research institute, can participate in a project in two ways:

  1. As a project partner with a separate budget, but in partnership with an accredited HEI. This will be most useful if this partner will have a specific role and responsibility in the project implementation and for a longer period/ all the project period. Salaries and personnel costs can be compensated for up to a total of 6 months lump sum per year under the budget component for Salary and Personnel costs. Please see the Budget Guidelines for more details and rates.

  2. As external consultants for specific project activities that are more limited in time and scope. For external consultancies, these activities should be budgeted under the budget component for External consultants. Such budgets should specify hours of work, hourly rates, travel expenses and any other expenses. There are no fixed rates for consultants, but we encourage consultants to use reasonable rates for the benefit of the projects.

Q: Can south-south collaboration be based on partners on different continents, e.g. Uganda and Colombia?
A: Yes, south-south partnerships can also be cross-regional and include institutions from countries at different continents. It is up to the project to identify partners that will contribute to the project and NORHED programme objectives. The benefit of involving multiple partner institutions must be balanced with the objective of the specific project, operational feasibility and considerations of the overall impact of the project.

3. Seeking Norwegian partners

Q: Our institution is interested in applying, but we do not have a partner in Norway. Can Norad assist us in getting in touch with a higher education institution in Norway?
A: Norad does not have the capacity to provide assistance with identifying and establishing contact with potential partners in Norway. South-based institutions are advised to do some research on the different higher education institutions in Norway, the type of disciplines and specialties that they offer, and then contact relevant departments directly.

4. What can be funded

Q: What kind of infrastructure/technical equipment can be supported under NORHED II?
A: NORHED II supports investments in small-scale infrastructure that gives better access to quality education and research facilities at partner institutions in developing countries. This includes, but not limited to scientific equipment, educational tools, books and electronic literature, and laboratory equipment. Further, necessary information and communications technology (ICT) covering software and hardware for institutional development can also be supported, including ICT for financial and administrative purposes at the institution.

Infrastructure and equipment that facilitates equitable access and inclusion, including equal opportunities for people with disabilities, can also be supported.

NORHED II will not finance new buildings, but extensions, renovations and improvement of existing infrastructure and procurement of necessary equipment and furniture can be financed, including ICT.

The extent of infrastructure/technical equipment needed will vary from project to project. Project proposals should justify why the specific infrastructure/equipment is relevant for the overall project objective.

Q: Can NORHED support training of South PhD or MSc students enrolled in institutions other than the partners in the project (e.g. Universities in US or Europe)?
A: Scholarships for full degrees in Norway or other relevant countries can only be supported when the degree programme/courses are not available in the home country or other South-based partners.

Q: Can Norwegian PHD/Post docs be funded through NORHED?
A: The main target group for full scholarships/fellowships in NORHED are employees at South-based partner institutions, as a means to strengthen teaching and research capacity at these universities. Scholarships may also be given to students representing underrepresented or marginalised groups, as a means to strengthen equitable access to higher education.

NORHED therefore does not cover full PhD/Post docs for Norwegian researchers. However, NORHED covers one annual full-time equivalent position at the Norwegian higher education institution, which includes costs for salary, social costs, indirect costs and general running costs. This means that a Norwegian partner may give partial funding to a Norwegian PhD/Post doc, depending on how they split the one year salary compensation between their staff involved in the project. In this way, we hope that NORHED II can encourage Norwegian partners to include younger researchers into the project together with senior researchers.

Q: Does Norad have any advice on what exchange rate to use when preparing the budget?
A: When preparing the budget the South partner can either prepare their budget in functional currency (e.g. Malawi Kwatcha in Malawi, Birr in Ethiopia etc.) or if the partner also has a Foreign Currency Account and receives their grant from Norway in this currency/transfer currency (e.g. USD or EURO) this currency can also be used for planning the budget.

In the budget template, you will find a box at for currency and conversion rate at the top left corner of the budget sheet for South partners. Here you need to plot in the currency used by you, the conversion rate to NOK as well as the source used for the conversion rate and the date.

We could recommend that you use the website oanda.com. Then, when you plot in the various budget figures in the yellow boxes (either in functional or transfer currency), the conversion to NOK will be translated automatically. These NOK figures will be transferred to the first sheet of the budget template for the Total project budget automatically as well.

We are aware that exchange rates will vary throughout the project period. However, our experience from NORHED I is that this in most cases will even out. The projects will be requested to provide a revised budget annually, hence any substantial changes in currency exchange rates can be reflected there, if needed.

Q: The budget/financial plan limits the number of partners to five, can there more than 5 partners in a project?
A: There are no restrictions/limitations as to number of additional partners in a project. On our website, you will find 3 budget templates according to number of partners. If your project has more than 5 partners, please contact us and we will send you a suitable template

Q: In the budget template, is the budget for the Norwegian partner imbedded in the other SS1 or SS2 or SS3 budgets?
A: The budget shall include a breakdown for each project partner, as well as the total budget for the project. The Norwegian partner is included in the total budget only, as they only operate in NOK.

5. Thematic sub-programmes

Q: Our project fits into several of the thematic sub-programmes, how do we know which one to apply for?
A: NORHED encourages an inter- and multidisciplinary approach to the thematic areas, with cooperation and interventions across disciplines and sectors. The sub-programmes are all meant to be interdisciplinary and encourage projects to think broadly and across disciplines and sectors and the thematic focus of a project may overlap in different sub-programmes.

Therefore, a project proposal might overlap more than one sub-programmes. The applicant should apply for the sub-programme they find most fitting. Norad is also free to place a project in another thematic sub-programme if we find it more suitable. This is (primarily) for administrative purposes and will not affect project design or project specific activities if selected for funding.

Q: South Sudan was a sub-programme in NORHED I, but not in NORHED II. Without this consideration how can the outputs of NORHED I be sustainably followed up in NORHED II?
A: South Sudan is no longer a separate sub-programme in NORHED II as it was in NORHED I. Instead, South Sudan is one of the 12 prioritised countries indicating that the strong emphasis on South Sudan continues in NORHED II, across all sub-programmes.

Q: Where in the online application do we indicate which NORHED II sub-programme the application is submitted under?
A: Indicate at the beginning of the Project summary in the section Project description which sub-programme the project application is related to (e.g. Sub-programme: Energy). The sub-programmes are described in Annex 1 of the NORHED II Programme Document.

6.Grants Portal: Application process

Q: How can I access and work on a NORHED application in the Grants Portal?
A: You will find a link to the online Grants Portal on the NORHED website. Before you start working on the application, you must be a registered user in the Grants Portal. Information on registration and roles in the portal is available under “Help”, in the Grants Portal. Here you will also find user guidelines related specifically to “new user” registration in the portal, overview of the portal, and the steps in submitting an application.

Q: Can a South-based higher education institution register as applicant organisation?
A: The grant recipient in in NORHED II shall be accredited Norwegian higher education institutions. This implies that the applicant organisation must be the Norwegian partner institution. The project proposals should be developed jointly by all partners, and all partners shall be responsible for the implementation of the project. However, the South-based institution cannot act as the applicant organisation on behalf of the project.

Q: Can an application be reopened and revised once it is already submitted?
A: The application will be automatically saved while you are working on it. When the application is submitted, you may still reopen and revise the application within the deadline. The application must then be resubmitted before the deadline.

Q: What kind of confirmation do you require from institutions that participate and from other actors such as governments, NGOs etc.
A: All projects partners should submit a Letter of Commitment, signed by management. This letter must include information about the institution’s role in the project and specific commitments for project implementation. A MoU is not required in the application process.

Q: Do you have a template for the Letter of commitment?
A: No, we do not have a template for the Letter of Commitment. You will find information in the Application guidelines, page 5, on what information we want the partners to provide in this letter.

Q: Who shall sign the Letter of Commitment from each institution?
A: The intention of the Letter of Commitment is to confirm that the application has management support, in order to ensure institutional commitment. The Letter of Commitment shall therefore be signed at relevant management level. Relevant management level may vary between partner institutions, and may imply college/school/university management level, with authority to enter into binding cooperation on behalf of the institution.

Q: In the Grant Portal it says that the applicant can use MFA/Norad’s template or the institutions own budget template, does this mean that we can we use our own budget templates in the application?
A: No, all applications must use the NORHED II Budget Template, available on the NORHED website. The Grants Portal is used for different funding schemes under MFA/Norad and is not tailored to NORHED specifically. Therefore, the information in the explanatory text in the section on “Detailed budget” is not accurate for NORHED. Instead, potential applicants should refer to the budget guidelines available on norad.no/norhed for detailed information on NORHED II budget frames and regulations.

Q: Regarding number of characters indicated for each question in the online application (between 5000 and 32 000 characters). Is it expected that we use all the space, or does this just indicate the maximum available space?
A: The information under each question in the online application is on the maximum characters, not required characters. It should not be an aim to write as much as is allowed, but rather to include relevant and necessary information, and to keep the answers as short and informative as possible. Further information on required information for individual sections and questions is provided in the application guidelines.

Q: At what organisational level should information be provided regarding other grants or funding (in the Organisation section) in the Grants Portal?
A: The questions regarding previous/applied funding in the Grants Portal application pertains to the applicant/subunit in question, not to the applicant organisation as a whole. The purpose of this question is to map history of funding, and also the potential for funding from several sources if the NORHED project is granted funding.

7. Project Organisation and Administration

Q: How should leadership responsibilities be divided between North and South in NORHED II?
A: This is to be decided by the projects. Requirements for all NORHED partnerships, as outlined in the Programme document on page 26, are (1) one joint plan, (2) one partnership committee and (3) one coordinating institutional partner including a PI.

The NORHED projects should be based on mutual partnerships that ensure that partner interventions are locally owned and locally driven, with local accountability for achievement of results and management of risks.

Q: What is the meaning behind North-South-South project? Does it require an existing relationship/collaboration of South partners?
A: The NORHED programme invites collaborative North-South-South partnerships, with both established and new partnerships. The programme aims at capacity development of higher education institutions in developing countries and has a strong emphasis on regional south-south partnerships, which also enables partnerships comprising older and more established institutions together with younger institutions.

Q: Are there any specific requirements for the PI from the Norwegian leading institute?
A: The PI is responsible for overall liaison and coordination of the project.

Q: If one of the PIs in a NORHED project moves to a new university during project implementation, are they allowed to move with the project?
A: NORHED projects should be based on institutional partnerships and institutional commitments. A project therefore does not "belong" to an individual, but rather the institution. If individuals involved in the project leaves the institution during the project period, the institutions shall seek to replace these with other dedicated staff to ensure their institutional commitments as set out in the agreement.

Q: Is there a limit on how many projects an institution can apply for?
A: There are no restrictions/limitations as to number projects one institutions can apply for, however the institution should not apply for more than can be managed if all projects are granted support.

8. Other

Q: From your knowledge about the situation in South Sudan, what is your take on an application with partners from South Sudan only?
A: Given the situation in South Sudan, project proposals that include partners in South Sudan should give special emphasis on a risk assessment and mitigation strategy related to project implementation in South Sudan. Projects are generally encouraged to include South-South collaboration, and this may particularly be relevant for projects including South Sudan.

Q: Will there be any synergies between NORHED II and other Norad development programmes i.e. Fish for Development?
A: Norad always looks for synergies between the various Norwegian programmes and initiatives in development cooperation for better results and overall impacts. NORHED II will complement support to other Norwegian funded development programs within research and higher education as well as seek synergies with other Norwegian sector-based knowledge programmes managed by Norad. During the assessment process of the applications, Norad will ask the relevant embassies to comment on relevance of the applications to Norwegian priorities and other Norwegian interventions/initiatives in partner countries.

However, this is not a criteria for receiving support in the NORHED II programme. The applicants are however encouraged to identify synergy opportunities, also with programmes financed by other donors, countries and organisations, where possible.

Q: Will there be more call for proposals under NORHED II?
A: This is not yet decided, and will depend on the composition of the portfolio that is granted support under this call, as well as parliamentary allocations to Norad in the coming years.

Q: How can we procure external consultants and expertise to contribute to activities in the project without being collaborating partners?

A: The basic principle for procurement of goods and services is to have a competition based procurement. The public procurement laws and its regulations for state institutions in Norway must be followed for Norwegian Higher Education Institutions. The project applicant institutions (Norwegian Higher Education Institution) are acquainted with this law and regulations and know the ceilings for full tenders, limited competitions and direct procurements. For partners in the South there will be specifications of procurement requirements in the agreement.


Published 20.03.2020
Last updated 26.06.2020