What do we need to support the building of responsible and impactful global academic partnerships?

November 15, 2021

UniPID and EDUFI partnered up to create a benchmarking study to identify what peer countries do on globally responsible funding and see what Finland could learn from others’ experiences

Global partnerships are at the heart of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. In the higher education sector, the idea of partnerships has become not only a means for internationalization and innovation of higher education institutions (HEIs) but also a way to contribute to global sustainable development. In the Finnish context, national initiatives for research, education, and innovation collaboration with the Global South have increased, encouraging HEIs to build and develop new partnerships. But what kind of global academic partnerships do we need and how can they be supported in order to find solutions for global challenges? UniPID and EDUFI partnered up to create a benchmarking study to identify what peer countries do to support globally responsible and impactful partnerships.

Partnerships are in the core values of UniPID. With projects like the FinCEAL initiative (2013-2021), as well as other actions that offer tools for building responsible global academic partnerships, UniPID has a long history in supporting collaborative research activities between the Finnish research community and peers from the Global South. The Finnish Nacional Agency for Education (EDUFI) provides support and manages national and EU funding for HEIs education and capacity building cooperation. Thus, the partnership for the benchmarking study was complementary, as the division of work between the two highlighted the strengths of each organization.

The collaboration for benchmarking was commissioned by the International Forum’s subgroup for globally responsible funding, where an acute need for mapping and analyzing relevant funding programmes from peer countries was identified to see what Finland could learn from others’ experiences. The study focused on programmes that can provide concrete guidance and inspiration for the development of future responsible and fair funding initiatives in the higher education and research sector, both nationally and internationally.

The study looks at 12 institutions with over 30 programmes from Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, that support Global South partnerships in research, higher education and capacity-building, including mobility and scholarship schemes. The selection was based on their complementarity or comparability to the Finnish context. The report highlights examples from the selected programmes and the main findings form a set of good practices. Trends are categorized under four key aspects that should be taken into account in programme planning:

  • Policy coherence, joint funding, and national coordination
  • Selection of partner countries, and building needs-based cooperation strategies and reciprocity
  • Actions, focus, and scope of the programme
  • Fostering sustainability, impact, and multi-sectoral cooperation

A week after publication, we talked to Johanna Kivimäki, UniPID’s Director and one of the authors of the study. Kivimäki shared that though the report does not seek to provide concrete recommendations, she is sure that the good practices identified in the report will be useful once the policy frame and focus of the Finnish globally responsible funding programme are negotiated and defined. Similarily, the report can offer inspirational examples and good practices also for other future funding initiatives and programme planning in Finland and internationally.

Read the Benchmarking study here!

Photo credit: Markus Winkler, 2020 on Unsplash