Strong higher education systems are key for accelerating development, building inclusive societies and promoting sustainable economic growth. SPHEIR was a UK Aid programme (2016-2022) supporting change in higher education to better meet the needs of students, employers and society in focus countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
The programme was managed by a consortium of organisations, led by the British Council in association with PricewaterhouseCoopers and Universities UK International.
Mutually beneficial partnerships brought together different types of organisations – including higher education institutions, authorities and associations, civil society and private sector organisations – to design and deliver innovative solutions to higher education challenges by focusing on transformative change at individual, institutional and sector-wide levels
Quality – In Sierra Leone, a National Qualification Framework for Tertiary Education set new quality standards for higher education institutions. Across East Africa, a new quality review tool was applied in 21 universities to improve institutional blended learning capacity.
Relevance – In Somaliland and Sierra Leone, 13 degree programmes were redesigned with contextualised content and practice-based learning. In Tanzania and Uganda, four universities are engaging public and private sector representatives through new Joint Advisory Groups.
Scale – 4,470 academic and support staff were trained in curriculum design, student-centred and gender-responsive pedagogy, assessment, blended learning and distance education. Over 77,600 students benefitted directly from SPHEIR, including 12,400 from Myanmar who accessed online courses.
Access – More than 12,500 students in Lebanon and Jordan accessed study tracks and bespoke short courses with a further 1.1 million learners worldwide enrolled online.
Affordability – 913 students in Kenya received an affordable loan to start or continue university, of whom 82% were from the bottom three wealth quintiles and nearly half were the first in their family to progress to tertiary education.