Client UK Department for International Development (DFID)
Value £15 million
Lifecycle 2006 to 2013
Country Multiple

Through Development Partnerships in Higher Education (DelPHE), we helped to increase the capacity of higher education institutions in developing countries to contribute to sustainable development. We achieved this by supporting partnerships between institutions in different countries to enable them to undertake joint research, develop improved teaching programmes and share relevant ideas and expertise.

DelPHE's aims and legacy

The overarching aim of the programme was to contribute to achieving the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including those related to gender.

Through DelPHE, higher education institutions were able to act as catalysts within developing countries to stimulate research and develop products to support the achievement of the goals.

Each DelPHE partnership focused on one or more MDG, with the majority of funding being allocated to projects related to the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger; combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; and ensuring environmental sustainability. The project left a legacy of strengthened institutional capacity, community engagement and, crucially, links between higher education and policy makers in relation to these goals.

What we did to deliver DelPHE

Tasked with the overall project management of DelPHE, we promoted, established, managed and reported on 200 higher education partnerships in 22 DFID Public Service Agreement countries. The majority of these partnerships were between northern and southern higher education institutions, with the Association of Commonwealth Universities facilitating the development of south-south partnerships that were unique to this project. 

Sustainable solutions

Sustainability was built into each partnership by:

  • the training of trainers
  • the development of quality assurance systems
  • the advancement of research expertise
  • the provision of ‘seed corn’ funding and outreach strategies that attracted other funds if partnerships were successful.

Of the 200 partnerships, 198 continued for the full three year duration, and 114 continued after project funding had ceased. Of these, 69 partnerships attracted a total of nearly £32 million in additional funding – meaning that for every £1 spent by DFID, a further £2.77 was generated from other governments, donors and international bodies.


DelPHE promoted more complex partnerships than the traditional one-to-one links of previous linking schemes, and it also facilitated the development of multilateral and ‘south-south’ partnerships.

DelPHE's impact at a glance

  • 66 per cent of southern partners are conducting more research than before their DelPHE partnership.
  • 136 partnerships have undertaken joint research that has been published or presented at conferences.
  • More than 650 research papers have been published in peer-reviewed national and international journals.
  • More than 300 research papers have been presented at conferences.
  • 25 per cent of projects have had dialogue with policy makers and 5.5 per cent indicate that they have already had some direct influence in actual or planned policy change.
  • 792 new or revised courses and modules have been developed in 161 institutions, of which 79 per cent are in development areas of science and technology.
  • 28,835 individuals (17,700 male and 11,135 female) have directly benefited from DelPHE professional development opportunities and courses.
  • Over 58,000 external beneficiaries have been positively affected by DelPHE activities.