This study investigated North–South cooperation in higher education through a case study of the Norad‟s Program for Master Studies (NOMA) program. The study encompasses the role of higher education in development and how targeted donor interventions can strengthen higher education institutions to meet the needs of their societies.
The study was guided by four research objectives; to identify NOMA‟s rationale for initiating NOMA; to assess how NOMA strengthens higher education institutions to meet the development challenges of their societies; to identify gaps evident in the design and implementation of NOMA and lastly to identify which challenges NOMA faces in its implementation process. The study took the form of a qualitative case study of the NOMA program and focused on Africa.
Data collection involved use of questionnaires and interviews among NOMA Master Program coordinators. Data was also collected through document review using documents that addressed the design and implementation of NOMA.
The findings indicate that the initiation of NOMA was guided by a need to inculcate the tenets of Norwegian development policy in Norwegian support to higher education in the South, a policy which aims at contributing to sustainable capacity building and development. NOMA offers substantial financial commitments to collaborative projects aimed at developing demand-driven Masters in the South. Several gaps are evident, such as lack of coordination with other donors and lack of engagement with the national level of the higher education system. However, it addresses gaps common in donor interventions in higher education, such as lack of research and studies on higher education to inform policy. The program has faced challenges in ensuring effective partnerships and sustainability of the program but is working on overcoming them.
The study concludes that NOMA is a new model in development cooperation that offers effective partnerships and sustainable capacity building.
The study recommends that donors engage in coordination of their activities to pool resources and contribute effectively to capacity building. Moreover, they should engage national governments and avoid conditioned aid but rather support legitimate national needs of the countries involved. The study advocates that Southern stakeholders should be given a voice in such interventions to express their priorities and needs, and they should take an active role in driving the capacity building forward.