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New opportunities for collaboration with developing countries

SIU is preparing a new call for applications to the NORPART programme in 2018. The ongoing projects are establishing long-term collaboration, with extensive exchange of students between the partner institutions.

Author: Heidi Skålevik.

Published: 11.12.2017


Photo: Partners in the HRCNET project visited the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences in October 2017. From the left: Professor A. Kumara – National Institute of Fundamental Studies, Professor Gamini Rajapakse – University of Peradeniya, Professor Dhayalan Velauthapillai – Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Dr. Kristin Fanebust Hetland – Head of Department of Computing, Mathematics and Physics, and Geir Anton Johansen – Dean of Faculty of Engineering and Business Administration.

Professor Dhayalan Velauthapillai coordinates the NORPART project Higher Education and Research Collaboration on Nanomaterials for Clean Energy Technologies (HRCNET). This project is of great importance not only to the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, but also for its partner institutions in Sri Lanka.

The project aims to establish structures for student exchange between the partners, and to enhance the quality of higher education within the field of clean energy technology.

They will establish a joint Master’s course, to be taught at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences and the University of Jaffna with teachers from both institutions, as well as external experts.

– We have many students and employees in our exchange programme, and we have developed an extensive network within our field, Professor Velauthapillai explains.

Electricity for the world

The project coordinator from the University of Jaffna and two professors from the from the exchange programme visited Norway in October. In this connection, the Western University College of Applied Sciences hosted a seminar on advanced Nano materials.

– In international collaboration projects we bring together students and professionals to share our expertise, build network and solve problems that are bigger than what we can manage on our own, said Kristin Fanebust Hetland, Head of Department of Computing, Mathematics and Physics.

One of the issues they are dealing with is the increasing need for access to energy, particularly clean energy.

– The global need for energy increases due to population growth and development, Professor Velauthapillai explained in the seminar.

Today, 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity and 3.5 billion people do not have real access to cooking facilities using electricity.

State-of-the-art facilities

The HRCNET project strongly benefits from the fact that Professor Velauthapillai also coordinates projects funded through other SIU programmes.

– In our projects supported the UTFORSK and India programmes, we collaborate with an Indian university. We are collaborating on Nano materials for use in solar technology and the health industry.

– In the NORPART programme, we receive funding to work on technology for clean energy in collaboration with two universities on Sri Lanka, the University of Jaffna and the University of Peradeniya, Professor Velauthapillai says.

The overall aim of NORPART is to enhance the quality of higher education in Norway and developing countries through academic cooperation and mutual student mobility. Read more about the NORPART programme.

– The funding we receive through SIU is of great importance to us, and I hope we can continue with this kind of projects, Professor Velauthapillai says.

With support from the Framo Foundation, the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences has established a unique, state-of-the-art laboratory for Nano technology. – We are developing Nano materials for the third generation solar technology.

Grateful for the collaboration

Professor Gamini Rajapakse from the University of Peradeniya on Sri Lanka is very grateful for the opportunity to collaborate.

– One of my students is currently doing his exchange stay here in Norway, and he is working very hard because he has access to all the necessary facilities.

– On Sri Lanka we do not have access to the necessary equipment, as we do here. Collaboration with the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences is very useful as it allows my students to perform their work very quickly and efficiently.

A new call for applications

Through close international collaboration on education and student mobility, NORPART aims to enhance the quality of higher education, both in Norway and in developing countries. Mutual exchange of students is a key tool in the programme, with particular emphasis on exchange from developing countries to Norway.

The NORPART programme was established in 2016, as a result of redistribution of funds from the quota system.

The first 21 projects were allocated funds in the NORPART programme in 2016. Student exchange started gradually from the fall 2017.

See an updated list of ongoing NORPART projects (pdf).

The next call for applications will be launched in the spring 2018, with an expected deadline for applications by May of the same year.

– We are very excited about the opportunity to launch a new call for applications in 2018, which is a year sooner than initially planned, says Else Kathrine Nesmoen, Head of Department at SIU.

This way we can facilitate a significant increase in number of exchange students from developing countries to Norway from 2019 onwards.