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The Finnish National Agency for Education (EDUFI) published a summary report of the first annual reports of the projects funded under the Higher Education Institutions Institutional Cooperation Instrument (HEI ICI) in 2020-2024. Administrated by EDUFI, the HEI ICI programme supports cooperation projects between higher education institutions in Finland and the developing world. The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs granted EUR 11.2 million for the HEI ICI programme in the period 2020-2024. The total budget including the 20% co-funding provided by the participating higher education institutions is EUR 12.4 million.
The aim of the cooperation programme is to support the capacity to develop distance learning and improve access to higher education for students in partner countries in the global south. The HEI ICI programme is focused on three main themes: solving the global learning crises, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and innovation development to increase employability at large scale.
Nine projects operating in nine countries in Asia and Africa were selected for funding in the period 2020-2024. The partner country institutions include universities from capital regions as well as smaller institutions from other regions. In addition to academic partners, the partnerships include non-governmental organisations, ministries of education, public agencies and private companies (e.g. ed-tech companies) from Finland and the partner countries.
Furthermore, on 27 May the Finnish Government appointed Dr. Minna Kelhä as the new Director-General of the Finnish National Agency for Education (EDUFI) for a duration of five years. Previously, Kelhä served as State Secretary to the Minister of Education since 2019. In this position she has led the legislative projects and prepared key education policy reforms under the Government Programme. Her previous positions include Secretary-General of the Left Alliance Parliamentary Group from 2016 to 2019 and several other roles in the national politics in Finland.
Furthermore, Mika Saarinen was appointed as the new director of the Erasmus + National Programme Officein Finland. He will take up his new position on 1 July 2021. He has worked with the Erasmus+ programme and its predecessors for 24 years. In recent years, his work revolved around vocational education and the general education sector, as well as higher education and adult education.