Evaluation at the Donor Harmonisation Group

Each year a network of organisations administrating higher education, research, and capacity building development cooperation programmes meets in Europe to share insight, collaborate, and, where possible, align objectives. The ‘Donor Harmonisation Group’ this year met on June 11-13 in Helsinki for their annual forum, hosted by the Finnish Centre for International Mobility (CIMO).

Donor Harmonisation Group, Helsinki, June 2014

Donor Harmonisation Group, Helsinki, June 2014

The CSC Director of Scholarships Dr Jonathan Jenkins and I travelled to Helsinki to sit on the forum panel discussion ‘Effects on capacity building from scholarship programmes: What do evaluations and tracer studies teach us?’

With colleagues from SIU (Norway), Nuffic (The Netherlands), and DAAD (Germany), we discussed recent evaluation research, the current state of methodology in evaluation design, and challenges for future. I presented a short overview of our recent study of research methodology used in evalautions of international scholarship schemes:

Colleagues from elsewhere in Europe and Africa updated the forum on developments in the Pan African University, Erasmus Plus (the extension of Erasmus Mundus beyond the EU), and on the growing network of higher education connections between China and Africa. A significant theme of the event focused on facilitating dialogue between implementers of cooperation programmes and scholarships and their funders, including contributions from the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

Almost every work trip has at least one bizarre moment; in Finland we had two.

As we touched down in Helsinki a colleague informed us (by email) that an elk had been rampaging through the city centre, much to the consternation of townsfolk and at least one local restaurateur whose premises the elk ‘patronised’. Apparently this is not all that unusual in some countries as the hapless animals can become intoxicated on fermenting apples. Sadly I learned the elk was shot by police after they were unable to herd it out of the city, an admittedly strident penalty for drunk and disorderly. Nonetheless, it was, as my colleague put it, a moose on the loose.

The second came later in the trip as we waited in the rain for a tram to take us back into the city centre. There are many trams in many cities, but I would hazard that there are few as idiosyncratic as the ‘pub tram’ that rolled past us displaying liquor advertisements and apparently carrying a crew of bar staff ready to ensure a well-oiled evening commute. If you are going to drink in a bar in Helsinki it is going to cost: perhaps the pub tram conducts a roaring trade in combining travel cards and light refreshments at knockdown prices.