Cross-border university networks as a development strategy: Lessons from three university networks focused on emerging pandemic threats

David W. Chapman, Amy Pekol, Elisabeth Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Cross-border university networks have recently been advocated as an effective strategy for addressing national and regional development needs while simultaneously strengthening the capacity of the participating institutions. While university-to-university partnerships generally involve two institutions collaborating to accomplish a particular activity, university networks typically involve a larger number of institutions and focus on a broader set of activities organised around a particular issue or goal. They can take on activities which would exceed the capacity of individual institutions and the intention often is to establish a longer-term, more sustainable set of relationships than are typical in university-to-university twinning arrangements. This paper synthesises key lessons which have emerged from three recent efforts of establishing multi-university networks, one in Africa and two in Asia. Their experience suggests that such networks can be a useful mechanism for promoting a social and educational agenda while at the same time strengthening the capacity of participating universities. However, findings also suggest that success is not guaranteed. While university networks can expand resources and capabilities, they also increase operational complexity. The authors’ analysis of the advantages and constraints encountered in the development and implementation of university networks aims to offer guidance to those pursuing this mechanism as a means of strengthening higher education and achieving broad development goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)619-637
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Review of Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Deans’ meetings; curriculum development; workshops; Makerere University Science Knowledgebase (MUSK), Africa Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) capacity building Establishing an administrative structure and legal framework; advocacy; curriculum development; core competency trainings; workshops Establishing an administrative structure; working on core competencies Each network received USAID project funding through the RESPOND project (2009–2014). RESPOND is part of the USAID Emerging Pandemic Threats Program – designed to focus on the development of outbreak investigation and response training which merges animal and human health dynamics into a comprehensive approach for disease detection and control. Incorporating animal and human health epidemiology and disease surveillance, RESPOND employs an integrated approach which unites public and private sector organisations to combat emerging disease on a global scale. The programme focuses on long-term, short-term and in-service training, and academic preparation for health professionals. The programme also establishes effective responses to counter outbreaks while they are still within animal populations as well as strengthen the capacity to respond to outbreaks within human communities

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning.


  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Cross-border university collaboration
  • Development partnerships
  • One Health
  • Preventive health care
  • University networks


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