Two students listening in a lecture

Mat Wright

What is SPHEIR?

Strong higher education systems are vital for accelerating development, building inclusive societies and promoting sustainable economic growth.

Running from 2016 to 2022, Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education Innovation and Reform (SPHEIR) is a £45 million Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office fund to support higher education transformation in focus countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Middle East. 

The programme aims to transform the quality, relevance, scale, access and affordability of higher education - helping to address challenges and generate the job-ready, skilled graduates that business and societies need.

The SPHEIR approach

SPHEIR works by catalysing and funding collaborative partnerships. The partnerships are based on mutuality, innovation and sustainability. All have an international dimension, drawing upon UK and other international expertise from the Global North and South. 

Altogether, the SPHEIR portfolio spans more than 62 organisations across 17 countries, including universities, colleges and online education providers, private sector organisations, civil society groups and foundations, plus higher education authorities and associations. Collaborating in this way helps to stimulate innovative new ideas and approaches.

Partnership projects fall into two broad areas:

  • Delivering change at a system level (e.g. reforms are adopted across the national higher education system, relating to funding, governance, access, quality assurance etc.) 
  • Delivering change at an institutional or programme level (e.g. approaches become sustainably embedded in the departments, faculties, degree programmes or organisations involved in the projects – e.g. new or improved content, improvements to teaching, new modes of delivery etc.)

To find out more about current SPHEIR partnerships, visit the SPHEIR partnership profile pages.

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