Wednesday 11 May 2016

SPHEIR – the new DFID programme that aims to transform higher education systems in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Middle East – was featured at the annual Going Global higher education conference in May 2016.

Running for six years, SPHEIR, which stands for Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education Innovation and Reform, will respond to key challenges faced by low-income and middle-income countries by enabling higher education systems to better meet graduate and labour market needs and to support inclusive development and economic growth.

In front of an audience of 800 global education leaders in Cape Town, the UK government’s Minister of the Cabinet Office, Matt Hancock, introduced the SPHEIR programme and pledged the UK’s support to meet the global demand for effective higher education.

Mr. Hancock said: ‘The number of students enrolling in higher education worldwide will increase by 21 million between 2011 and 2020…In many of the developing countries, where demand for higher education is expanding fastest, domestic systems are not responding quickly enough to meet need.’

‘Today I can commit to you our support for the SPHEIR programme – funded by the UK to catalyse ambitious, multi-sector and high-value partnerships to transform the quality, relevance, access and affordability of higher education,’ he continued.

‘SPHEIR will support partnerships that bring businesses and universities together to develop bespoke curricula, improve the quality of teaching and make higher education provision more affordable for students.’

The programme aims to drive new approaches to higher education reform by funding large-scale partnerships of diverse collaborators working across countries and sectors to deliver change at the systemic level.

Focusing on innovation, SPHEIR will engage new organisations and providers, such as private sector companies, to boost the performance and enhance the relevance, affordability and quality of higher education systems.

Funded by DFID, SPHEIR has a total value of £45 million. It is managed by a consortium of organisations, led by the British Council in association with PwC and the Universities UK International.

Also speaking at Going Global, Jo Beall, Director Education and Society at the British Council, said: ‘In spite of 15 years of real progress in international development there are still challenges ahead, especially for higher education…SPHEIR is different to and goes beyond previous programmes, enabling innovation and leap-frogging by lower-income countries.’

See the SPHEIR presentation at Going Global 2016.