USAID opens new channels for higher education
By Ezekiel Carlo Orlina on 28 September 2012
The U.S. Agency for International Development has launched its latest program targeting institutions of higher education called Fall Semester. The program aims to take university engagement to a new level by opening channels of communication between America’s premier aid agency and the academe.
Through USAID’s website, students and other members of the academe can select from different engagement opportunities classified simply as serve, solve, and join.
Under serve, individuals may apply for internships, fellowships, job openings, as well as volunteer work in and out of the United States. Opportunities classified under solve allow students, researchers, and members of the faculty to propose innovations in health, education, scientific research, sustainable development, and other sectors. Under join, individuals are given the chance to interact and exchange ideas through web chats and guest lectures, as well as become a part of USAID’s partner organizations on campus. According to USAID, arecently-launched web tool allows for direct communication with USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah.
Fall Semester is part of a broader USAID strategy to attract members of the academe and encourage the involvement of higher education institutions in addressing global development problems.
For recently, on February 8, 2012, USAID announced a special funding opportunity for universities called Higher Education Solutions Network, which is designed to further integrate innovation, science and technology in America’s global development policy. While the second stage of the request for applications (RFA) process officially closed on July 17, 2012, USAID confirmed to Devex that similar opportunities will be announced and released in the future.
USAID’s Higher Education Solutions Network program aims to create and fund two types of “centers” tied to universities, colleges, research centers and other higher learning institutions. Consortium centers involve a collection of universities, NGOs, and companies while single institution centers will involve an individual institution. These centers will contribute to existing and future USAID programs through activities such as research, analysis, and training.
The primary goal of the Higher Education Solutions Network is to establish institutional partnerships that will create and leverage a virtual network of leading experts who will help USAID solve distinct global development challenges. USAID’s hope is that this network will help USAID identify new solutions, save money, and improve development outcomes over time.
USAID has a long history of partnership with institutions of higher education, research institutes, colleges, and community colleges. One of USAID’s marquee university engagement programs called Higher Education for Development has helped launch more than 300 university partnerships that have strengthened the institutional capacity of more than 200 developing country higher education, research, and training institutions in approximately 60 countries since 1987. As of fiscal 2011, HED was administering 169 active partnerships with U.S. higher education institutions.