Using universities and academia for development

Project description

Title: Higher Education for Development service point
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Global
Overall term: 2020 to 2023

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Higher education and academia are the engines of economic and social development: universities train skilled workers and managers, promote social change and increase productivity, while academia develops solutions for local and global challenges.

Sustainable Development Goal 4.3 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for equal access to higher education. It also recognises higher education as the key to further development goals.

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) therefore attaches great importance to higher education in its education strategy. The most important objectives are to ensure equal opportunities while increasing the quality and relevance of education. In the Marshall Plan with Africa, BMZ calls for labour market-oriented higher education and increased academic cooperation between German and African institutions.

In order to achieve these objectives, BMZ promotes relevant university cooperation arrangements and scholarship programmes through the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Humboldt Foundation (AvH). BMZ also cooperates with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) to implement technical and financial cooperation measures.

Although these programmes and measures are showing success, there is still no systematic transfer of knowledge with other areas of development cooperation. The task of the Higher Education for Development service point is to bridge this gap.


Cooperation with universities has a positive impact on German development cooperation.


As the central contact point for cooperation with universities and academic institutions, the Higher Education for Development service point operates in three fields of activity:

  1. Advisory services: The service point informs German and international universities and academic institutions about BMZ-financed programmes and opportunities for participation in development cooperation. It supports the initiation of university cooperation arrangements and the development of appropriate strategies. The service point also advises technical cooperation projects that cooperate with universities and academic institutions or wish to use findings from international academic and university programmes. The Sector Project on Education’s knowledge base and networks are available for this purpose.
  2. Networking: The service point brings together German and international universities, academic institutions, participants from development cooperation, and programmes financed by BMZ. The series of events entitled ‘Higher education and academia meet practice’ promotes exchange between the groups involved on key topics. Targeted follow-up work enables networking and encourages collaboration.
  3. Piloting: The service point tests innovative approaches to using higher education and academia for to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. On this basis, it develops strategies for mainstreaming higher education and academia in all areas of German development cooperation. The university team in the Sector Project on Education uses the findings to provide strategic advice for BMZ.

Last update: May 2022

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