Tuesday 01 November 2016


The British Council and Department for International Development (DFID) are pleased to announce the first two partnerships supporting the transformation of overseas higher education, under the Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education Innovation and Reform (SPHEIR)

The two initial partnerships will focus on healthcare provision in Somaliland, and education provision in Jordan and Lebanon for Syrian refugees.  The partnerships will begin delivering their projects in early 2017. The projects will bring together knowledge and expertise from King’s College London as well as organisations from the UK, Germany, Somaliland, Lebanon and Jordan.

These two projects are the first to be supported by SPHEIR, a new initiative funded by the DFID and managed by the British Council, Universities UK and PwC. 

Prepared for Practice project aims to improve the effectiveness of the health workforce in Somaliland, where just 197 doctors, 1,256 nurses and 344 midwives serve a population of 3.5 million. The project will help to build the capacity of Higher Education (HE) institutions to produce healthcare graduates with the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviours to enter practice at an effective level.

The Partnership for Digital Learning and Increased Access (PADILEIA) will focus on the higher education needs of young people displaced by the Syrian crisis in Jordan and Lebanon. 

The projects, led by King’s College London and expected to last five years, will provide blended academic programmes, including Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), targeted online learning, and classroom-based learning to displaced students. It aims to support young displaced Syrians to integrate into the local workforce and, in the future, help to rebuild the post-conflict Syria.

The Secretary of State for International Development, Priti Patel, said: “No country can ever build a brighter future for itself without a properly trained and skilled workforce. As a globally engaged, outward looking nation I am proud that Britain is at the forefront of bringing quality education to the world’s poorest people.

“Supporting our internationally acclaimed universities to share their expertise across the developing world, we can ensure young people have the skills to lift themselves out of poverty and develop a more prosperous, stable future for everyone. This is not only the right thing to do, it is firmly in the UK’s interest.”

Sir Ciaran Devane, Chief Executive, British Council said: “If you can promote the interchange of knowledge of ideas and discoveries, then you create a basis of friendly knowledge and understanding between people. So not only is SPHEIR great in itself because of what it does for development, but it is part of what will make this world a better, a safer, and a more prosperous place for all of us.” 

The next call for partnership proposals is now open until 20 February 2017.


Notes to Editor

SPHEIR is a DFID funded programme to support higher education transformation in lower income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The programme aims to deliver systemic and sustainable change within higher education systems, enabling them to meet labour market needs and generate employable, entrepreneurial graduates.

For more information, please contact nicola.norton@britishcouncil.org

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. Using the UK’s cultural resources we make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust.

We work with over 100 countries across the world in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Each year we reach over 20 million people face-to-face and more than 500 million people online, via broadcasts and publications.

Founded in 1934, we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. The majority of our income is raised delivering a range of projects and contracts in English teaching and examinations, education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. Eighteen per cent of our funding is received from the UK government.