How can UiO students contribute to global partnerships?

How can UiO students contribute to global partnerships? This is the question that will be addressed on April 5, in a meeting at the University of Oslo.  During my years as rector I have learnt to admire and appreciate the engagement and enthusiasm among our students for cooperation and partnership with institutions in the South. How can we support and nurture this engagement in a time with quite radical changes in the financial and political framework conditions?  

A seminal change is imminent – namely the discontinuation of the quota programme and the introduction of its substitute: NORPART. The first call for NORPART was announced today, on the home page of the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (SIU).  A total of NOK 90 million will be made available for five-year projects. We are told that the overall goal of NORPART (the Norwegian Partnership Programme for Global Academic Cooperation) is to strengthen the quality of higher education in Norway and in developing countries through educational cooperation and mutual student mobility.

I was critical when I first heard that the quota scheme would be phased out. Certainly, the evaluation of this programme was not entirely positive. But we were not prepared for its discontinuation and replacement.

The main objective of the Quota Scheme was  “to contribute to capacity building through education that will benefit the home country of the students when they return”. As stated above, the new programme aims “to strengthen the quality of higher education in Norway and in developing countries through educational cooperation and mutual student mobility”. Comparing the two objectives, the shift in emphasis is evident. It is stated in no uncertain terms that the new programme should benefit not only our partners in the South, but also our own institutions. Now the double-duty aspect is not implicit: it is explicit.  

It remains to be seen how the new programme will work out, and there have been changes to the better since the first draft programme was made public. However, it would be a sad turn of events if the emphasis on our own benefit ended up in hindering competence building in the nations and institutions that need it the most. In fact, such a turn of events would mirror the change that we see in the framing of development aid. In a recent Comment that we published in Lancet Global Health we assert that there has been a gradual transformation in the use of the term “sustainability”, to the extent that we risk to shift support away from those that are worst off to those that have the ability to self-improve. In my mind, global equity must be an overriding goal for foreign policy, just as it must be an important goal of any modern university.

A positive aspect of the new programme is that it shall contribute to more Norwegian students going on exchange in the partner countries. Paradoxically, the number of outgoing exchange students has declined over the past few years. Hopefully the new programme will help rectify this situation.  

As stated on SIU’s homepage, the focus on student mobility distinguishes NORPART from the Norad programme NORHED, whose main objective is to strengthen the capacity of institutions of higher education in low and medium-income countries.

I am looking forward to the debate and the discussions with our students on the important topic of global partnerships. The meeting is open to everybody and I trust and hope that many of our students will attend.


Time and place:How can UiO students contribute to global partnerships? Apr 5, 2016 05:15 PM - 06:45 PM, Auditorium 3, SV-bygget, Eilert Sundts hus, Blindern

Overview of all relevant calls for applications


About the seminar

The University of Oslo (UiO) has a responsibility to contribute to solving global challenges. Researchers from all faculties at UiO participate in joint research projects with partners in the Global South. These projects normally focus on challenges in the partner countries connected to topics such as maternity health, nutrition, democratic governance, biodiversity and sustainable energy. Most of the project activities happen in the South, but the topics of the cooperation projects could be interesting for UiO students, as well.

In this seminar we challenge Rector Ottersen on how international research cooperation could contribute to UiO educating global citizens.We ask the panelists how UiO students can learn from and contribute to cooperation projects between UiO and partners in the South. How could new technologies facilitate the inclusion of more UiO students in the global partnerships? How do students want to participate in global research cooperation?


  • Chair, Prof. Kristin Braa, member of the UiO North South Committee

  • Rector Ole Petter Ottersen, UiO

  • Prof. Dan Banik, Centre for Development and the Environment, UiO

  • Student from Department of Informatics, UiO

  • Hans Christian Paulsen, International contact, Studentparlamentet ved Universitetet i Oslo (The Student Parliament, UiO)

The seminar is free and open to everyone.


SAIH Blindern, Centre for Development and the Environment (SUM), The UiO North South Committee

Publisert 4. apr. 2016 23:04 - Sist endret 8. sep. 2016 09:38
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