NORHED II 2021-2026

Norad supports North-South-South university partnerships for projects on capacity development in higher education and research, through NORHED II.

NORHED is the Norwegian Programme for Capacity Development in Higher Education and Research for Development. NORHED 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.

Higher education and research are priority areas of Norway’s development cooperation policy. Sound, strategic investments in higher education and research lay the foundation for development of countries’ intellectual resources, competent workforces, visionary leaders, gender equality, human rights and democracy.

Higher education institutions also play an important role in ensuring evidence-based policies and practices, which are key for the structural transformation required to achieve the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (the 2030 Agenda).

Norad supports university partnerships for North-South-South academic collaboration, as outlined in the NORHED Programme Document.

NORHED intends to be responsive to the higher education sector priorities of developing countries and should be linked to government policies and priorities at national and/or regional level. Projects must be based on partner institutions’ identification of needs and contextual relevance.

The programme period is 2021-2026. Projects may be for either a three-year or a six-year period. 


Programme intended impact

The intended impacts of the NORHED programme are:

  • Better qualified workforce
  • Applied sustainable solutions and practices
  • Evidence-based policies
  • Enhanced gender equality and inclusion
Intended NORHED outcome

Interventions under the NORHED programme are expected to enable partner institutions in developing countries to produce:

  • Higher-quality graduates
  • More and higher-quality research
  • More inclusive higher education

All projects supported under NORHED need to have a theory of change that clearly shows how the project will lead to the intended outcomes in the NORHED programme framework.

Project interventions that may be supported:

NORHED takes a holistic approach to capacity development of higher education institutions by supporting a range of intervention components that are considered interrelated and interdependent. Key components are framed as six broad project outcomes. NORHED fosters flexibility in project design based on different contexts and needs. Project-specific interventions should be combined in the best way possible to achieve programme outcomes and impacts.

The capacity development elements in NORHED projects should be based on a needs assessment at the relevant partner institution. Interventions should be proposed by partners based on jointly identified challenges and opportunities.

Intended capacity development outcomes (Project outcomes) are:

  • Programmes and methods: Strengthened quality and relevance of education and research programmes and methods
  • Systems: Strengthened education and research systems
  • People: Increased capacity and competence of staff and students
  • Gender and equity: Improved gender equality and inclusion of marginalised groups in education and research
  • Infrastructure: Improved institutional small-scale infrastructure and equipment for education and research
  • Outreach: Increased engagement with relevant stakeholders, and dissemination of knowledge.

Cross-cutting issues

The following four cross-cutting issues are mandatory in all Norwegian development cooperation, and must be included in the risk assessment in all projects:

  • Human rights, with a particular focus on participation, accountability and non-discrimination
  • Women’s rights and gender equality
  • Climate change and the environment
  • Anti-corruption

More details on the NORHED II programme

Touch the plus sign to see the details for each topic.

NORHED II and the SDGs

As for all Norwegian development cooperation, the 2030 Agenda with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) constitutes the guiding framework of NORHED II.

NORHED promotes the important role of higher education institutions to achieve sustainable development. Education is considered both a goal in itself (SDG 4: Quality Education) and a means for attaining other SDGs.

Higher education and research are not only an integral part of sustainable development, but also a key enabler for it.

A fundamental element of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs is the principle of leaving no one behind (LNOB). This requires inclusive and equitable quality education, and addressing barriers across geographic, economic and social identity. NORHED promotes inclusion in higher education. It emphasises that higher education should be available, accessible, acceptable and adaptable for all, irrespective of social and economic situation.

Thematic areas

NORHED is organised in thematic sub-programmes that reflect important priorities of Norwegian development policies and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The thematic sub-programme areas for this call are:

  • Education and Teacher Training
  • Health
  • Climate Change and Natural Resources
  • Political and Economic Governance
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Energy

Interdisciplinarity and cross-sectoral approaches are encouraged. For a detailed outline of the different sub-programmes, see Annex 1 og the Programme Document

Geographical priorities

NORHED II gives priority to countries identified as partner countries in Norway’s development policy. These include the countries categorised as partner countries for long-term development cooperation, and a few selected countries categorised as partner countries for stabilisation and conflict prevention.

  • Colombia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Malawi, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Palestine, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda

Norway also gives priority to other Least Developed Countries (LDC) in Sub-Saharan Africa. Regional South-South collaboration is strongly encouraged.

Collaboration with higher education institutions in other developing countries than the prioritised countries is welcome, when justified based on a South-South capacity building objective.

Countries listed as Upper Middle Income Countries and Territories (ref DAC list of ODA recipients) are first and foremost relevant as regional partners for building capacities in other Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Lower Middle Income Countries (LMICs).

Published 10.03.2020
Last updated 26.10.2020