Norad’s Programme for Master Studies
Norad's Programme for Master Studies (NOMA) provides financial support for developing and running Master’s degree programmes in developing countries through equal partnerships between local and Norwegian higher education institutions.
NOMA is financed by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), and managed by SIU.
NOMA is a programme for educational cooperation based on equal partnerships between higher education institutions in Norway and in the South. The programme was established in 2006, and the current period runs until 2014. By then, NOMA will be replaced by NORHED, Norad’s new programme for capacity building in higher education and research in low and middle income countries.
The goal of NOMA is to contribute to the education of staff in public and private sectors as well as civil society in selected developing countries. This is achieved through building capacity at the Master’s level in higher education institutions in the south.
Who may apply?
The NOMA Programme Board has allocated all available funds for the programme period 2006-2014. The programme is therefore not open to applications for new projects.
Guide to NOMA
Guide to Norad's Programme for Master Studies (NOMA)
This GUIDE is intended to serve as a tool for present and future project coordinators and institutional contact persons participating in Norad’s Programme for Master Studies (NOMA). The target groups are particularly project coordinators and institutional contact persons in the NOMA Programme and others who are considering applying for NOMA funds in the future. The GUIDE gives a short presentation of NOMA, including the background to the programme, the principles and the types of cooperation projects and activities which are funded by the programme. It also describes the different stages of a NOMA project, from the first initiatives and initial planning of a joint project, through the phases of application, selection, set-up and implementation, to the final reporting after the project has been completed.
It is, however, important to note that a Programme Document for the NOMA Programme 2006–2010 has been developed which sets out in greater detail the aim and objective of the programme.
1 Norad's Programme for Master Studies (NOMA)
Norad’s Programme for Master Studies (NOMA) is a programme for educational cooperation based on equal partnerships between higher education institutions in Norway and in eligible countries in the South.
NOMA is funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and the overall administration of the programme is the responsibility of the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Higher Education (SIU).
The programme is based on the interest and expertise that Norwegian academics and institutions have in collaborating with partners in the South and aims to contribute to capacity and competence building in eligible countries in the South.
The NOMA programme was launched in 2006 when Norad and SIU entered into an agreement regulating a four-year period of the programme, from 2006–2010. The programme period was extended to 31.12.2014 with an addendum to the agreement signed by the parties in November 2008. The NOMA programme replaced the former Norad Fellowship Programme (NFP), which existed from 1962 to 2008. Students from the eligible countries outside Norway who took part in the NFP programme came to Norway to take their Master’s degrees. Under the NOMA programme students take their Master’s degree at an institution outside Norway under Master’s programmes developed in close cooperation and partnership with Norwegian higher education institutions.
The individual projects in the programme are embedded in the collaborating institutions.
2 Aim and objectives of the NOMA programme
3 Eligibility criteria for support from the NOMA programme
4 Project cooperation categories and project activities
5 The basic principle of cooperation
The NOMA programme supports institutional cooperation projects involving Norwegian universities/specialised universities/university colleges and their partner institutions in the South. An essential feature of the programme is that the cooperation and the supported projects are based on the principle of equality, long-term commitment and institutional agreements between the main partner institutions to the mutual benefit of the parties concerned.
6 Decentralised mode of initiation, implementation, monitoring and reporting
The NOMA programme is built on a decentralised mode of initiation, implementation, management, review and reporting. Even if projects and programmes are initiated by a group of academic staff, the cooperation is to be embedded in and committed to by the management of the participating institutions. The partnership programme is based on a common interest but with the needs of the participating institutions and countries in the South as a priority. The aim of the cooperation between the institutions and the supported projects is to strengthen capacity and expertise at the institutions, amongst their staff and amongst the workforce of the respective countries engaged in Norwegian development cooperation.
Initiation, implementation, management, review of progress and reporting to SIU’s NOMA Programme Board are to be carried out by the academic staff and their institutions.
A prerequisite for participation in the NOMA programme is that the institutions have the organisational structure and administrative functions necessary to handle the day-to-day running of project activities, including accounting and sound routines for auditing.
The first report the project coordinators have to jointly prepare and submit is the Initial Project Report (IPR). This report should be prepared within two months after the first student intake to the respective Master’s programme (for more information about the Initial Project Report, see section 12.4).
The project coordinators are also responsible for the annual reporting on their project. It is mandatory for all NOMA-supported projects to submit the Annual Master Programme Report to SIU each year. The deadline for submitting the report is in March each year (the date for submission varies from year to year). The project coordinators are jointly responsible for writing and submitting the report each year (for more information about the Annual Master Programme Report, see 12.4).
7 The roles of project coordinators and institutional contact persons in the NOMA partnership
8 Financing and budget – What can be financed by NOMA
9 Project Phases - How to establish a NOMA-supported Master's programme
Once the partner(s) has been identified:
Decide on the objectives together
The aim and objectives of the Master’s programme project that is to be developed should be decided upon jointly and the project developed in close collaboration between all the partners. The following checklist may serve as a reference for securing this aspect:
Build mutual trust
A framework that stimulates an honest and open collaboration must be created. It is important that the partners know each other well enough and trust each other.
Share information and develop networks
Regular balancing of the accounts, audits and periodic checking of inventories are measures which help create transparency. The requirements of SIU for reporting and financial statements for the projects also contribute to transparency.
10 Application and selection procedures
During the application and selection process an application to NOMA is subject to scrutiny by the submitting partner institutions, external evaluators, SIU and the NOMA Programme Board. This section describes the different stages of the application and selection process in the NOMA programme:
10.1. Stage 1. The project coordinator and the department/centre
Writing and submitting the application
Even at the preparatory stage of the application process it is important that the project coordinators inform their respective heads of department of their plan to apply for NOMA support. This is to ensure that the application will be supported by their respective institution at the highest level at a later stage, as institutional support for applications to the NOMA programme is an absolute requirement (see the paragraphs below).
Once the aims and objectives of the proposed Master’s programme have been formulated and the relevant application form has been filled in with due consideration to the respective Guidelines, the proposing coordinators present the application to the department/centre of the institution. The signatures of the respective heads of department/centre ensure the relevance and quality of the proposed project. Approval implies that the department incorporates the collaboration as part of its activities, including allocating the necessary time for the staff involved as well as administrative resources to the project.
The writing and submission of NOMA applications to SIU take place online via Espresso, SIU’s administrative system for application and reporting for programmes managed by SIU.
Further information about the procedures for the submission of applications to SIU are available on SIU’s website www.siu.no.
When submitting the application separate Cover Pages will be available in Espressso for printing by the project coordinators at the institution outside Norway (IoN) and the institution in Norway (IiN). This document should be printed and duly signed by the respective project coordinators and their heads of departments and the Vice Chancellor/Rector/University Director of the respective institutions. The signed Cover Page should then be forwarded to the NOMA institutional contact person at the institution. Subsequently, the institutional contact person should submit the signed Cover Page (one Cover Page for each application) together with a signed prioritised list of applications to SIU by the given deadline. Please note that the institutional contact person should keep the Cover Page(s) until the deadline for the submission of the prioritised list of application(s) from the institution.
10.2. Stage 2. SIU’s administrative assessment and handling of the application
Upon receipt of submitted applications from the project coordinators, SIU conducts an administrative assessment of the application in order to establish whether the application fulfils the necessary formal requirements and eligibility criteria advertised in the NOMA Call for Applications and Guidelines to the application. If the application does not fulfil the eligibility criteria, SIU will inform the applying institutions to this effect. As a consequence the application is not eligible for further processing such as external evaluation and institutional assessment and ranking.
External evaluation of the application
10.3. Stage 3. The institution
In order to secure institutional commitment to the application, it is a requirement that the management at each of the proposing main partner institutions assesses and rank the applications submitted by the respective project coordinators.
In order to guide them in this task, a system of external evaluations of applications (please refer to chapter above) was introduced by NOMA in 2008. The assessment and comments from the evaluators are intended to support the assessment and ranking of the application(s) being made by the institutions. In order to facilitate this process there is a certain time period between the deadline for submission of applications and confirmation and ranking of the applications. This is to provide sufficient time both for the evaluators and for the applying institutions to review the applications submitted.
The appointed NOMA institutional contact person is in charge of the institutional assessment and ranking process and is given reading access to the external evaluations and writing access to the institutional assessment and ranking forms. This process also takes place online in Espresso.
Guidelines for the institutions’ assessment and ranking of applications have been developed by SIU and can be found under the link (link til Guidelines for institutional assessment of applications to NOMA).
10.4. Stage 4. SIU’s preparations for the NOMA Programme Board
Once the institutional assessment and ranking have been received, SIU produces a working document for each application for the Programme Board. This working document contains a summary of the application and an evaluation of how well it complies with the NOMA programme’s aims, guidelines and selection criteria developed by the NOMA Programme Board.
10.5. Stage 5. The NOMA Programme Board
The members of the NOMA Programme Board are appointed by the SIU Board of Directors. The NOMA Programme Board is a joint body of 10 members. The members are appointed for a period of three years with the exception of the one member from the student organisation (term of service is one year). The Programme Board members shall have experience from work in the field of higher education and research and cooperation with developing countries. This requirement does not apply to the student representatives or to the representatives from the employer and employee organisations.
SIU has developed its own provision concerning legal competence in programme administration to ensure that SIU’s programmes are managed in a manner that complies with legislation and that is perceived externally to be competent and trustworthy. These provisions have been formulated on the basis of the Norwegian Public Administration Act (Forvaltningsloven) and were adopted by SIU's Board of Directors on 21 February 2008.
The primary task of the NOMA Programme Board is to assess, select and allocate funds to institutions and cooperation projects. The Programme Board monitors cooperation under the programme based on reports prepared by the institutions. The Programme Board also oversees the quality and further development of the NOMA programme.
The number of applications normally outnumbers the number of projects that can be funded by the programme funds available. Therefore, the Programme Board establishes a set of priorities to sort the applications and build the programme portfolio.
10.6. Stage 6. Letter of reply
Once the Programme Board has made its decisions on the allocation of funds, SIU informs the applying institutions accordingly through a letter of reply.
The approval letter states the amount of the allocation and requests the parties’ project coordinators to complete the project application in the form of a Project Document (please see section 11.1 for more information about the Project Document).
In the event that an application has been completely or partly rejected by the Board the applying institution has a right to file a complaint to SIU, please see below.
Any applying institution whose application has been completely or partly rejected has a right to file a complaint with SIU should the applicant feel that the rejection is based on a procedural mistake, abuse of authority, or obvious misinterpretation of the contents of the application. Procedural matters may not in themselves be the subject of a complaint unless the actual decision is contested. The academic assessment or discretion applied may not form the basis for a complaint.
What constitutes a legitimate basis for a complaint?
What cannot form the basis for a complaint?
For more information, see SIU’s Complaint Regulations.
11 The Project
12 Implementation of the project and the project activities
It is important for NOMA projects that the project coordinators discuss and settle a number of issues concerning the implementation of the project during the first months of the project period. Some of the institutions taking part in the NOMA programme may have developed guidelines and routines with regard to the projects in their portfolio. For those who have not, the following may serve as a guide to institutions and staff taking part in the programme:
12.1. Sharing of responsibilities
The project coordinators decide, based on the Milestone table (in which important activities in the project are described) in the NOMA Project Document, the coordination of the project and sharing of responsibilies for the planned activities.
12.2. Project organisation
It is recommended that annual meetings are held between the implementing partners. The purpose of the meetings is to review implementation and progress of activities, assess progress of Master's students and make plans for the following year. The following models for project organisation may be considered:
a) Annual meeting held between the coordinators and contact person(s) network partner if applicable. Review of activities, accounts, budgets and work plans.
b) Steering committee meeting. In cases where the partners have chosen to establish a steering committee comprising staff closely involved in a NOMA Master's programme and in which they meet to discuss, inter alia, review of education, accounts, budgets and work plans.
If the institutions concerned run more than one NOMA project, it is also recommended that the respective project coordinators meet in order to share experiences. The same applies if the institutions run NUFU projects, whereby those involved can share experiences and identify synergies in the projects.
12.3. Student issues
Enrolment of students and plans for starting up Master's programmes and studies should be discussed and agreements entered into with regard to the teaching/supervision of the students. In projects where the “sandwich” model (part of the course at the home institution and part of the course at another institution) is used, supervision may be split according to activity.
The students must be recruited and start their studies in the first year of the project period and should complete their studies within a two-year period. A Master’s degree programme eligible for support under the NOMA programme is defined as full-time study over two academic years, equivalent to 120 credits according to the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).
12.4. Monitoring and reporting procedures
Institutions receiving financial support from NOMA are obliged to report back to SIU on the progress of the project and the use of funds. The reporting system within NOMA is important for SIU and the Programme Board as regards monitoring of the projects and serves as an important tool for gathering experience and creating a basis for adjustments to the programme.
With reference to the partnership agreement between Norad and SIU concerning the NOMA Programme, SIU is obliged to submit an annual report to Norad on the progress and results of the NOMA programme. The report from SIU to Norad must be submitted by 31 May each year. Data on the progress of the projects is collected through the project coordinators’ Annual Master Programme Report and the Annual Institutional Report. These reports are SIU’s main tools for monitoring the projects. SIU and the NOMA Programme Board’s assessments of the project’s progress in the annual report to Norad is based on the data from these reports. Hence it is important that the NOMA partners make an effort to include correct and relevant data in the reports that they submit to SIU, especially with regard to the production of Master’s candidates funded by NOMA.
Furthermore, the timely submission and approval of the reports are preconditions for continued financial support.
The reporting formats for the NOMA programme are based on the recommendation in the study “Effect measurement - Norad’s Programme for Master Studies (NOMA)” by the Centre for Research in Economics and Business Administration (SNF), commissioned by SIU on behalf of the NOMA Programme Board and financed by Norad in 2007. The aim of the study was to identify and select indicators in NOMA in order to know when or whether we are making progress towards desired results.
The following reports are required:
NOMA Initial Project Report (IPR)
The project coordinators have to jointly prepare and submit an Initial Project Report (IPR) within two months after the first student intake to the respective Master’s programme. The report includes information on the student intake process. As NOMA projects operate with different dates for student intakes, each project, represented by its project coordinator, is responsible for submitting the report on time to SIU within two months after the first student intake.
The format for the coordinator’s IPR is available on SIU’s website www.siu/noma
Annual Project Report
The Annual Project Report comprises two reports: The Annual Master Programme Report and the Institutional Report and is to be submitted to SIU once a year.
Annual Master Programme Report
The coordinators must jointly prepare an Annual Master Programme Report. The report includes a summary of project accomplishments during the year in relation to the objectives stated in the in the annual work plans. The partner institution in Norway has the overall responsibility for collecting and compiling all necessary data from the project in order to comply with the requirements set by the NOMA programme for annual reporting.
The report is divided into a narrative content section and a financial section.
The narrative report includes the following information:
As previously mentioned, the Annual Master Programme Report has to be completed and submitted online to SIU. For more information about how to complete and submit the report, log into Espresso.
The report is normally available online from January and should be completed during the month of March each year, allowing the Annual Institutional Report, which is largely based on the Annual Master Programme Report, to be submitted to SIU by the beginning of April each year (see below).
While the Norwegian main partner institution has the main responsibility for the reporting of the total annual project finances to SIU, the expenditure of the IoN/IiN denominated in Norwegian kroner (NOK) should also be reported using the online reporting format. In addition to the project’s online registration of expenditure, the IoN(s) that have received funds transferred from the Norwegian partner institution should fill in the form IoN - Financial Report. The information in the online reporting format should correspond to the information given in the signed statement of the IoN - Financial Report as well as to the accounts at the IiN. The IoN - Financial Report is available from SIU’s website well in advance of the reporting deadline and must be filled in and signed by the IoN and forwarded to the IiN, which is responsible for keeping the combined project accounts. The signed IoN - Financial Report should be kept and archived at the IiN. The document should not be submitted to SIU.
After submission of the NOMA Annual Master Programme Report, the IiN should print and sign the overall Full Financial Report of the project. The project coordinators have access to the Full Financial Report in Espresso also after submission of the Annual Master Programme Report. After submission of the Annual Master Programme Report, the Full Financial Report should be printed by the Norwegian project coordinator and signed by the designated responsible financial person at institute/department level. The signed Full Financial Report should be forwarded to the NOMA institutional contact person at his/her respective institution. The institutional contact person is responsible for collecting the signed Financial Reports and forwarding them to SIU in hardcopy together with the signed Annual Institutional Report.
Financial ”Rule of the Thumb” in NOMA – as regards financial reporting
The NOMA Annual Institutional Report
All main partner institutions receiving support from the NOMA Programme are requested to prepare an annual institutional report and carry out an assessment of the NOMA-supported partnership. While the Annual Master Programme Report is filled in jointly by the IoN and IiN coordinators, the institutional report is filled in separately by each main partner institution. The Annual Master Programme Report is the major source of information and input for the review and the assessment. The review and assessment aim to establish how and to what extent the projects have to adjust their activities and give an assessment of impact at institutional level. The report includes recommendations to be evaluated by the programme’s respective Programme Board.
Furthermore, timely submission of the reports and approval of the Institutional Report, including approved (signed) financial statements of project expenses, are preconditions for continued financial support for the projects and the respective partner institutions.
The institutional contact person should make an assessment of NOMA-supported cooperation from an institutional perspective. This is largely based on the Annual Master Programme Report, which is submitted by their institution. This is also the reason why the institutional contact person is granted reading access to the reporting during the coordinator’s preparation of the Annual Master Programme Report.
The format is subject to revision and limited modifications annually.
The NOMA institutional contact person at the main partner institutions will have access to the reporting format in SIU’s online reporting system Espresso. After the online submission of the report, the institutional contact person is responsible for producing a printout of it, to be signed by the institutional contact person and forwarded to SIU.
With regard to the full financial report, the Norwegian main partner institution should forward a signed full financial report for each project to SIU in April (the date will vary from year to year). The full financial reports are printed by the Norwegian project coordinators and should be collected and forwarded to SIU by the institutional contact person at the Norwegian main partner institution.
The project coordinators and the institutional contact persons are informed by letter of the call for the submission of the Annual Institutional Report in due time prior to the submission of the report. Information about the reporting is also available on SIU’s webpage in due time before the submission of the report.
12.5. Notification of results
The partner institutions are required to publish the full texts of Master’s theses by NOMA students achieving a grade C or better. They are also required to submit electronically an executive summary of the Master’s theses produced by NOMA graduates in the reporting period. The summaries will be published by SIU in a yearly internet-based NOMA bibliography available on SIU’s web pages.
Norad and SIU have agreed a Communication Plan for the collaboration between Norad and SIU concerning research and research-based higher education in the development sector, including the NOMA Programme. The Communication Plan is relevant to activities in the NOMA Programme and can be downloaded from SIU’s web pages.
12.6. The NOMA Calendar
To make it easier for project coordinators, institutional contact persons and others involved in NOMA-supported projects to plan for and remember NOMA-related events, this section provides an overview of important reporting deadlines, NOMA board meetings and consultative meetings between Norad and SIU taking place during a typical NOMA year. If new calls for applications are issued, another board meeting will be held in addition to the two meetings mentioned below shortly after the application deadline in order to decide on the allocation of funds.
Disbursement of project funds
However, the institution in Norway and the institution in the South have no collective financial responsibility towards SIU but are responsible for funds allocated to and the accounting of project activities at their own institutions in the South and in Norway respectively.
The provisional allocation from the NOMA Programme Board to the project covers the whole project period. The grant for the project, based on the Tripartite Contract, is provided by SIU on an annual basis to the Norwegian institution. The disbursement of project funds from SIU to the Norwegian institution takes place twice a year. As per 2010 SIU transfers project funds automatically to the Norwegian institutions – without receiving an invoice from the institutions.
In the first year of the project an initial payment of 60% of the budget allocation for the first year will be made by SIU to the Norwegian institution after the tripartite contract has been signed by the parties. The remaining 40% will be transferred to the Norwegian institution in the second half of the first year.
For the second, third and fourth year of the project, disbursement of project funds from SIU to Norwegian partner institutions takes place twice a year (60%/40% of the yearly allocation). The first transfer of 60% takes place by May each year, while the remaining 40% will be transferred to the Norwegian institution after the approval of accounts and Annual Project Report for the previous year by the NOMA Programme Board. Unused funds will be deducted from the last 40%. The Southern partner institution’s share of the budget should be transferred to the institution without delay.
Accounting and audit
Institutions in Norway and in the South that receives funds from NOMA are instructed to ensure that appropriate accounting systems are implemented and that accounting will be carried out according to generally accepted accounting principles. Audits should be carried out in accordance with international standards.
SIU has developed its own procedures for handling irregularities in contracts between SIU and institutions that are awarded funds under programmes administered by SIU, namely Guidelines for handling Irregularities.
13 Completed projects – Final Report
Upon the termination of the project period NOMA requires the cooperating partners to submit a Final Report. The Final Report should include the same topics as the Annual Reports for the entire programme period and may additionally provide information concerning:
Final Report formats will be developed in due course.