The Nurturing Excellence in Higher Education Program (NEHEP) was jointly launched on Wednesday by the University Grants Commission, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, and the World Bank.

The five-year program aims to improve the quality and labor market relevance of Nepal’s higher education, scale up collaborative research and online learning, and expand access to academic institutions for underprivileged and vulnerable students from disadvantages areas.

“Investing in human capital from early childhood to higher education is key to helping young people in Nepal realize their development potential,” stated Ram Prasad Thapaliya, Education Secretary.

“This program will help strengthen the higher education sector in collaboration with industries and ensure students across Nepal including those from disadvantaged groups have access to quality higher education.”

The Nurturing Excellence in Higher Education Program builds on the success of earlier higher education projects in Nepal to align its higher education sector with labor market needs, boost collaborative research and entrepreneurship, improve governance, and enhance access to quality higher education in general and especially for disadvantaged students.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created strong incentives to expand online platforms and blended learning, which the program will help scale up across all universities in Nepal.

“Building on the successful partnership with the World Bank in earlier projects that improved research and innovation, quality assurance and accreditation, and COVID response, the program will further foster regional collaboration of higher education institutions across South Asia and beyond,” stated Prof Bhim Prasad Subedi, Chairperson of the University Grants Commission.

“This will help exploit the benefits of the knowledge economy and information era to increase participation, quality, and relevance of higher education programs.”

The program will also expand targeted scholarships to disadvantaged students to pursue labor market-driven academic programs and support equity grants to higher education institutions in needy and disaster-affected areas in Nepal.

“By improving access of students, especially those from disadvantaged communities, to quality higher education and skills that are in demand in the labor market, this program will support Nepal’s COVID-19 recovery,” said Faris Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

“This is critical as the country forges efforts towards green, resilient, and inclusive development, which the World Bank is committed to support.”