Call for Expression of Interest (EoI): Partners in the Network for Massive Scale Higher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa


Expected format for the Expression of Interest: between 2 to 4 pages


ICDE invites interested institutions, project/networks, experts and relevant stakeholders to submit an Expression of Interest, EoI, for participating as a partner in a network for Massive Scale Higher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa. In the first phase the network will focus on high-quality, but large-scale, programs with a focus on PhD education and for different target groups. Partners are foreseen to bring competencies, expertise and resources that can contribute to the vison and the more specific objectives for the network. No funding is provided for partners; however, fundraising will be a part of the network activity.

The network is led by Professor Love Ekenberg, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences at Stockholm University, UNESCO Chair and ICDE Chair for Massive Scale Higher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa.

EoI´s received will be evaluated in relation to relevance for the network (cf. the objectives and concept paper), what the potential partner can bring to the network, commitment, competencies and capacities to contribute to the initiative.

Higher education in Sub-Saharan Africa and North-South-South collaboration is a high priority for ICDE, and ICDE will contribute to facilitate the establishment of the network.

Objectives and assumed outcome for the network:

The vision is Massive Scale Higher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa. The initiative aims for contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals, SDG's, in particular SDG 4, Education 2030: “Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning”. Higher education has the potential to contribute to all the 17 SDG´s. The more specific objectives for the initiative are:

  • Utilise the rapid changes in technology to develop platforms for large-scale education and examination.

  • Adapt and develop high-quality, but large-scale, programs and courses on PhD levels and for different target groups.

  • Develop a model for running this in university systems in countries with less resources to leap-frog their educational systems and reform their general policies as well as their technologies in a cost-efficient way.

  • Provide very cheap access to learning and to encourage citizens to become engaged and interdependent citizens within the continent of Africa through technology.

  • Facilitation of creation of innovative curricula, mobility of staff, students and training by opening the free movement of knowledge, research and higher education.

  • Strengthen cooperation between African universities, and extend partnerships with universities around the world.

  • Implement the entire structure and sustain the activities over time.

Tentative timeline

ICDE will be an important component in promoting this initiative through networks and references to educational resources. The technical platforms and administrative support will rely on more than 20 years, intense development at Stockholm University and other institutions. We will also develop a model for how universities should cater for a more cost-efficient dynamical system and new kinds of students that require online education.

The tentative implementation strategy is the following:

  • During the first year a project group will be set up, consisting of five network partners, preferaby from a variety of areas and regions. Background of high relevance are, e.g., Pedagogy, Sociology, Information Systems, Management and Media. Other activities are to consolidate the PhD student network, define a strategy for the further development and also to set up technical platforms necessary.

  • During the second year, the educational models will be elaborated and courses will be developed and one or two joint PhD courses will be launched. The courses will be generic with a focus on Philosophy  of Science, Research Methodology and Scientific Writing.

  • During year three and four, the network will adapt, develop and implement more courses around jointly defined themes, depending of the interest of the participants and the profile of the network partners. This will be in collaboration between partners and all courses will be available through the network’s learning platforms. Teachers and tutors from academia and industry will hopefully be able to give students support and students will also be offered the possibility to do on-the-job training during their studies.

  • During year five and onwards, the network will further develop courses and activities and start offering more or less entire PhD programmes using the same educational model.

The growth plan is basically based on three main expectations: first, the number of students enrolling in the network programmes via universities where it has been rolled out the previous year is expected to increase on a yearly basis; second, the number of students from universities where it has not been rolled out previously will grow; and third, that there will be ways of attracting funding for the activities.

One key ingredient is also to establish a central point in the planned educational network, where all online courses and content can be delivered from and made available to students and institutions.

It should be emphasised that the participating institutions are supposed to contribute actively in this development and perform actual work tasks. It is at this point difficult to estimate the exact amount of work required from each participant, but as a tentative estimation they are expected to be practically engaged at least 10% of a full-time position.