Foreign Ministry to support five Finnish higher education institutions in their collaboration with developing countries

In 2024–2026, the higher education cooperation of Finland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs will prioritise teacher education, climate change and the circular economy, and food security. The Foreign Ministry grants just over EUR 6 million to the seven projects approved for the partnership programme.

The Higher Education Partnership (HEP) programme supports collaboration projects between higher education institutions (HEIs) in Finland and in developing countries. Teacher education, climate change and the circular economy, and food security have been chosen as the priorities of the HEP programme during the funding period 2024–2026. Among other objectives, the projects selected to receive financing will aim to develop food security training in Nepal, enhance the use of biogas as an energy source in Zambia, continue the cooperation to develop teacher education in Mozambique and promote the educational inclusion of persons with disabilities in Tanzania. The HEP programme builds on its predecessor the HEI ICI programme by retaining a focus on developing innovative teaching methods and improving distance-teaching practices.

“Many developing countries see Finland as a country with a high level of expertise and they are particularly interested in everything related to education and training. Higher education institutions are the engines of Finnish expertise. This cooperation between higher education institutions complements Finland’s efforts in areas where we have strong expertise,” says Juha Savolainen, Deputy Director General of the Foreign Ministry's Department for Development Policy.

The HEP programme has a stronger emphasis on equal partnerships compared to earlier programmes. For example, the HEP financing model will even out the allocation of budgets among partners. The principle of joint preparation and decision-making is more strongly present in the projects. In addition, the HEP programme offers students and teachers better opportunities for mobility to support their development work.

“The challenge with projects like these is to create an approach that treats equally a very diverse group of higher education institutions. It helps that higher education institutions have strong traditions and practices of promoting mutual respect and reciprocity,” says Senior Adviser Pekka Seppälä from the Foreign Ministry.

The cooperation and development efforts financed through the HEP programme contribute to the implementation of Finland’s Africa Strategy. The selection of countries reflects Finland’s development policy priorities in Africa. There are seven partner countries. A new partner, Rwanda, is involved in two projects. Other partners in Africa are Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya, Zambia and Namibia, who have been partners before. The Nepalese project is the only partner in Asia.

Five Finnish higher education institutions act as project coordinators. The University of Helsinki and the JAMK University of Applied Sciences coordinate two projects each. The Tampere University, the Novia University of Applied Sciences and the University of Eastern Finland coordinate one project each. The Finnish National Agency for Education is responsible for programme management. Its support services also receive financing from the Foreign Ministry.


  • Pekka Seppälä, Senior Adviser, Development Policy, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 295 350 999
  • Sini Piippo, Programme Manager, Finnish National Agency for Education, tel. +358 29 533 8595