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Call to Danish universities for a new phase of the Building Stronger Universities Programme (BSU) IV

BSU workshop at Gulu University. Photo: Vibeke Quaade

Danish universities are now invited to submit Expression(s) of Interest in collaborating with pre-selected universities in Somaliland, Tanzania and Uganda under the new phase of the research capacity development programme, Building Stronger Universities (BSU) IV.

Find the BSU IV Call for Expression(s) of Interest here
Deadline for submission: 30 August 2022 12:00hrs CEST

The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs invites Danish universities to submit Expression(s) of Interest to collaborate with Gulu University – Uganda, State University of Zanzibar – Tanzania, and the University of Hargeisa – Somaliland, under the Building Stronger Universities (BSU) IV programme. It involves capacity development of the three East African universities through partnerships with Danish as well as leading national and regional universities.

BSU IV enhances scientific knowledge and research-based education
The Building Stronger University lV programme will start in 2023 and run until 2027. It aims at enhancing the role of the East African partner universities as providers of scientific knowledge as well as research-based education and advice to society.

The strategic objectives are to contribute to improved quality of research and increased use of applied research by stakeholders by improving the research environment. Research capacity strengthening will be focused on selected research themes per partner university, but the strengthening of administrative systems and organisations will be university wide.

The East African universities are in the lead
The South partner universities in Uganda, Tanzania and Somaliland will lead the programme. As a first step, they have defined their individual needs for capacity development and selected between one and two thematic focus areas. They have developed a brief concept note justifying the need and relevance against university strategies, while taking into account other available support, the experiences from the previous BSU I, II & III programmes, the current situation and possible South-based twinning arrangements.


The three previous BSU programmes

BSU I (2011-2016)
The Building Stronger Universities program was initiated in 2011 as a collaboration between Danish universities and 11 institutions in five countries (Tanzania, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya and Nepal) organised around four thematic platforms. The programme focused especially on strengthening PhD education through 41 individual PhD scholarships, but included some faculty staff exchanges as well. The programme has largely met its targets, however an independent evaluation in 2013 found that, at least for some of the thematic platforms, there was a risk of low sustainability due to missing ownership in the South partner universities, and that administrative costs were too high as the programme initially was administratively managed by the Danish universities. Therefore, halfway into the programme it was decided that the project management and lead would shift to the South universities, and the BSU programmes to follow will also be led by the South Universities.

An additional BSU grant that focused on research dissemination and communication was funded. The objective was to strengthen BSU south partner universities in knowledge sharing, research dissemination and communication. The immediate objectives agreed across the four BSU-1 platforms were to strengthen BSU south partner universities’ institutional capacity within i) knowledge sharing, research dissemination and communication, ii) e-learning and iii) Problem-Based Learning (PBL).

While strengthened capacity in knowledge sharing, research dissemination and communication was the overall priority for the project, strengthened capacity in e-learning and Problem-Based Learning was seen as other key areas that were in high demand from the south partners and could make vital contributions to achieve the full potential within knowledge sharing, research dissemination and communication. The e-learning and PBL approach has been widely adopted by the partners engaged in the subsequent BSU II programme.

BSU II (2014-2017)
BSU II included seven university partners from Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda and Nepal. Activities were to a large extent defined by the South universities in accordance with the priority areas of the individual university reflecting their need for research capacity building. These needs were subsequently matched with the Danish university consortia. The South universities were the administrative leads of the projects, ensuring the ownership of the programme. This has been highly appreciated by the South universities who uniformly underlines that this gave them a strong ownership of the programme.

The BSU II  included funding of a range of research capacity building activities within both specific thematic topics (e.g. in health, agriculture, environment, social sciences) and university-wide administrative issues such as facilities and regulations for PhD students; financial and grant management systems; and access to literature.

The BSU II program was unique compared to most other international cooperation aiming at better and more research, because it consistently focused on developing the capacity of the universities to carry out research-based teaching, do research and reach out to societal actors. Most other programs focus either on research proper, or on offering PhD or MSc degrees to individuals. BSU-2 focused on research administrative and support aspects, curricula development embedding research in postgraduate teaching, and on strengthening research organisations at department or institute level to act as models beyond the chosen scientific theme, and which has outreach built into the approaches to research.

BSU III (2017-2021)
BSU-3 included six university partners from Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda. It build on lessons learned from BSU II, consolidated results and focused on fewer thematic research areas. It also added emphasis on the capacity of the South universities to perform outreach, engage with a variety of stakeholders and encourage uptake of research results relevant to growth and development. The key principle of South leader- and ownership of the partnerships was maintained.

Key programme objectives at short-term impact level to which BSU III contributed were effective research-based learning and timely graduation of an increasing number of post-graduate students within the chosen thematic areas. It was also a more and better organised research in selected thematic areas, producing research and broadcasting research results increasingly in regional and international networks. In addition, it supported applied research addressing immediate societal challenges in selected thematic areas carried out in close collaboration with external stakeholders. Due to Covid-19, the programme was extended by one year until 2022. Read the BSU III mid-term report here.

Danida Fellowship Centre administers the Building Stronger Universities programmes on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.



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