Cooperation built capacity

A summary report shows that the NOMA programme built capacity in developing countries. The report also shows that more than 40 master's degree programmes were established during the eight years that the NOMA programme was active, and that more than 40 percent of the students were women.


NOMA resulted in 44 master's degree programmes being established in developing countries.

'The most important result of the NOMA programme is the increased capacity in higher education and research communities in developing countries. One out of three former NOMA students are now working in higher education and research in their home countries,' says Gro Tjore, acting Director General of SIU.

SIU recently published a summary report about NOMA (Norad's Programme for Master Studies). NOMA supported the development and running of master's degree programmes in developing countries through partnerships with higher education institutions in Norway. The cooperation was based on the needs and priorities of the developing countries.

NOMA resulted in 44 master's degree programmes being established in developing countries. These programmes are taught at 28 institutions in 18 different countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

More than 2,000 students in developing countries have received NOMA scholarships, and about 1,500 of them have passed their exams and been awarded their master's degrees. More are expected to complete their degrees in the years ahead. The funding for scholarships is no longer available, as the NOMA programme is no longer in action.

Building capacity in the South


'The vast majority of former NOMA students have found employment in their home countries or elsewhere in the region, thus contributing to building capacity,' says SIU-Director Gro Tjore. Photo: SIU

'In many ways, NOMA marked a crossroads in educational cooperation with developing countries. All funding and most of the activity have taken place in the South, and this approach has produced results. More than 80 per cent of the 1,500 graduates have been awarded their degrees in the South. The vast majority have since found employment in their home countries or elsewhere in the region, thus contributing to building capacity,' says Tjore.

Earlier this year, SIU published a tracer study that showed that 92 per cent of respondents were in employment. Most of them were working in the public sector, including higher education and research.

More than 40 per cent women

Attracting more women to higher education and contributing to gender equality was among the NOMA programme's main goals. SIU is satisfied with the results achieved.

'We developed recruitment strategies targeting women in particular, and required gender perspectives to be included into all the master's degree programmes. More than 40 per cent of the NOMA students are women,' says Tjore.

Most programmes continue

The biggest item on the NOMA budget was scholarships for students. NOMA also supported the development of the actual master's degree programmes as well as ICT and library resources etc. But what will happen when the support is discontinued? Are the master's degree programmes sustainable in the long term?

'Sustainability in a long-term perspective was part of the intention behind the NOMA programme. Our preliminary figures indicate that about 60 per cent of the programmes will continue in their present form. Some will be discontinued, primarily because they are unable to recruit enough students when the NOMA scholarships disappear,' says Gro Tjore.

Formed network in the South

NOMA also encouraged regional cooperation. The results show that 60 per cent of the 44 NOMA programmes were multilateral, meaning that they included one or more network partners in the South.

Participants emphasise the establishment of such North-South-South networks at project and institution level as one of the most valuable results of NOMA.


  • NOMA (Norad's Programme for Master Studies) was active from 2006 to 2014, financed by Norad and administered by SIU.
  • Nepal has developed the most master's degree programmes (7), followed by Uganda (6) and Tanzania (5). Tanzania has the highest number of NOMA graduates (244), followed by Nepal (226) and Sri Lanka (201).
  • Twelve Norwegian educational institutions have taken part in the programme as partners, including all the universities.