Call for proposals: NORHED II 2021-2026

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


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

  • See the full call in MFA/Norad’s Grants Portal (since 20 March 2020).
  • For a detailed outline of NORHED II, see Programme Document.
  • The application deadline was Friday 26 June, 2020, at 13:00 CEST. Due to technical problems in the Grants Portal Friday 26 June the application deadline is extended until Monday 29 June, CEST 13:00.
  • Norad aims at signing agreements by the end of 2020 for projects to begin early 2021.

General information

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 calls for university partnerships to submit applications for funding of joint projects for North-South-South academic collaboration that will contribute to the objective of the programme, as outlined in the NORHED Programme Document.

NORHED is intended 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. Project proposals must be based on partner institutions’ identification of needs and contextual relevance.

The programme period is 2021-2026. Project proposals 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 will give 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).

Who can apply?

Eligibility requirements for prospective partners:

  • Partners from developing countries must be higher education institutions accredited/recognised by in-country national authorities in countries registered as OECD DAC official development assistance recipients.

  • Norwegian partners must be HEIs accredited by NOKUT (Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education).

Other relevant actors (both in Norway and developing countries) can be included as project partners in partnership with an accredited HEI as listed above.

NORHED projects shall consist of minimum one higher education institution in a developing country and minimum one Norwegian higher education institution. Projects with more than one partner institution in a developing country (North-South-South partnerships) are encouraged, in order to create and strengthen regional South-South academic networks.

The potential grant recipient shall be the Norwegian higher education institution, who will have the overall responsibility of the application.

Budget frames

The tentative total budget frame for this call is 1 billion NOK, for the 2021-2026 programme period. The budget is subject to annual Parliamentary allocations.

Projects will have a tentative total budget frame of 10-20 million NOK.

Proposals may be for either a three-year or six-year project period.

For applications covering a six-year period, expected total budgets could be between 15-20 million NOK. For applications covering a three-year period, expected total budgets could be around 10 million NOK.

Application procedures

Applications must be submitted electronically and in English through the Grants Portal.

Application deadline is Friday 26 June 2020, at 13:00 CET.

Applications are processed and considered on the basis of the guidelines and criteria set out in the call for applications. The grant scheme is competition-based. Applications are considered and weighed up against other applications. No applicants are automatically entitled to a grant under this scheme, even if they meet all the formal and practical criteria.

Assessment process

Proposals that meet the formal criteria will be assessed by Independent Review Committees (IRCs) established for each thematic sub-programme including relevance, quality of project design, and partnership and implementations as specified in the NORHED Evaluation Grid.

Recommended projects will be further assessed by Norwegian embassies in the relevant countries, and Norad’s technical departments. The final decision remains with Norad.

If a grant is awarded, Norad and the applicant (Norwegian higher education institution) will enter into a grant agreement. For institutions with more than one NORHED project awarded, the portfolio of projects will be consolidated into one joint grant agreement with Norad.

Each agreement partner institution shall subsequently enter into a Partnership Contract with all partner institutions that are part of the project implementation.

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

Published 10.03.2020
Last updated 27.03.2020