Mat Wright

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

How do SPHEIR partnerships work?

SPHEIR partnerships seek to bring together multiple organisations and providers to develop and deliver innovative solutions for higher education reform.

They will focus on improving higher education in one or more focus countries by harnessing the experience of organisations from different sectors and by bringing new types of collaborators into the higher education space, including the private sector.

Partnerships should have an international dimension, drawing upon UK and other international expertise from the Global North and South. Involving organisations and institutions with experience of higher education reform from middle-income countries, for example, can offer the potential for replication and collaboration.

Sustainability is a key feature of SPHEIR, and partnerships will work to ensure project impact extends beyond the SPHEIR lifecycle.

SPHEIR partnerships must be led by a well-established organisation with a track record of effective, large-scale project delivery. The lead partner may or may not be based in one of the programme’s focus countries, but the principal beneficiaries must be.

Who can participate?

SPHEIR encourages multi-actor and multi-faceted partnerships based on mutuality, innovation and sustainability.

Partnerships can include a diverse range of organisations and providers – anyone who can deliver real value in improving higher education in SPHEIR focus countries.

When bringing together potential collaborators, partnerships should focus on engaging new sectors and organisations, including the private sector, to help foster creativity and innovation, and build strong links to ensure sustainability.

Partners can include, but are not restricted to:

  • public and non-state universities, colleges and higher education providers
  • private sector employers, investors and suppliers of relevant goods or services
  • civil society groups and foundations
  • regional, national and transnational government and higher education authorities, bodies and associations
  • higher education sector specialists.

What types of projects will SPHEIR support?

SPHEIR projects are likely to fall into two broad areas:

  • delivering change at the system level (e.g. funding, governance, access and quality assurance)
  • delivering change at the programme level (e.g. new or improved content and new modes of delivery).

SPHEIR partnerships can develop new and innovative solutions to the major issues facing higher education or adapt existing solutions from other contexts and sectors.

Illustrative project examples:

  • building distance learning capacity to increase access (e.g. open universities)
  • improving affordability and financing (e.g. innovative delivery models)
  • improving the relevance of degrees and graduate employability (e.g. tailoring curricula to market needs).

Focus countries

SPHEIR focus countries will include certain low-income and middle-income countries located across Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Each call for SPHEIR project proposals may place certain restrictions on eligible focus countries. The focus countries for each funding call will be clearly stated in relevant application forms and guidance.