Submission of full proposal: Centers of Competence in Digital Education (C-CoDE)

Higher education in Africa is facing unprecedented challenges. Due to the demographic evolution and the lack of investment in tertiary education, universities cannot accommodate a growing number of graduates. Furthermore, the available curricula are often not aligned with the requirements of local economies. Training at the Master and PhD level can be severely limited by the lack of advanced courses, especially in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Digital education provides an opportunity to reach talented and motivated African students who would otherwise not have access to higher education. To support scientific research throughout the African continent, Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) in Morocco and the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have launched the Excellence in Africa (EXAF) initiative. One of the three pillars of this initiative focuses on digital education, building on EPFL’s and UM6P’s proven track record in this area. The goal is to provide STEM students enrolled in Master and PhD programmes across Africa with access to educational material and tools of the same quality as in Switzerland, yet relevant to local research programmes and the needs of Africa.

Call for applications

The application deadline has been extended to August 15, 2020.

This call for applications aims to establish the first three (out of a total of six) institutional partnerships with renowned universities in Africa in 2020, leading to the creation and the development of a Centre of Competence in Digital Education (C-CoDE) at each selected university. [See complete application file of the project]

Objectives and action plan

The programme aims to promote the sustainable integration of digital education in the teaching process of African institutions of higher education in STEM disciplines, as a means to strengthen the quality of teaching as well as the competencies of graduates.

The key element the initiative will be the creation and the development of a Centre of Competence in Digital Education (C-CoDE) in each partner university. [click here for additional information]

Eligibility criteria

The submitting institution must:

  • be an African public academic institution;
  • be a nationally accredited higher education institution that has had at least 3 years of continuous and visible operations;
  • physically locate the future Centre in Africa.
  • Institutional readiness to:
    1. promote the development and
    2. integrate the use of digital resources and new pedagogical methods;
  • Management commitment for institution-wide implementation of best practices in STEM education;
  • The involvement of faculty and lecturers in the pedagogical transformation project;
  • Management commitment to co-finance the setting up of the C-CoDE;
  • Existing infrastructure, as well as technical and pedagogical expertise;
  • Originality and quality of the project, its expected output and its anticipated long-term institutional impact;
  • Potential for regional impact.

Applicants accept, when they apply, that decisions rendered by the Joint Steering Committee are binding and final.

Applicants hereby expressly and irrevocably waive all rights of appeal or recourse to any court, except such rights cannot be waived by the Laws of Switzerland, in which case the exclusive place of jurisdiction shall be Lausanne (CH).


The programme awards up to 100’000.- Swiss francs to each partner institution for the project of creating a Centre over the period of 2 years maximum. This amount will cover, in whole or in part, expenses associated with training or technical equipment and infrastructure. Funding for equipment and infrastructure will be available as needed.

For the funding of the equipment and technical infrastructure to be released, the following conditions must be met by the home institution within the first 12 months of the programme:

  1. The premises hosting the C-CoDE are identified by the institution and validated by the programme manager. The surface of the premises must be at least 100m2 and include:
    1. A room dedicated to recording. This room must be air-conditioned and soundproofed according to the specifications provided.
    2. An air-conditioned room that will serve as a technical room.
    3. An air-conditioned room that will serve as an office for the production team and be also used for teacher preparation and training.
  2. At least two persons are appointed with a specific mission to manage and animate the day-to-day operations of the C-CoDE:
    1. An engineer or technical specialist, in charge of the operation and maintenance of the multimedia production studio.
    2. A techno-pedagogical specialist, in charge of advising and coaching faculty members in digital education.

A written commitment to provide a minimum of 15’000 Swiss francs worth of matching funds for the acquisition of technical equipment.

The application and evaluation process includes two stages. Please read carefully the application guidelines.

All required documents must be submitted using the online submission forms.

Submission deadline and schedule

All applications are to be submitted using the online submission forms by 15 August 2020 (18:00 GMT/UTC).

The entire application process is expected to be carried out according to the following schedule:

  • September: Invitation to submit a full proposal sent to selected universities
  • October 30: Step 2 – Full proposal – submission deadline
  • Mid-November: Final decision by the Joint Steering Committee
Application and Selection Process

Interested institutions are invited to submit an online application to the Call for expressions of interest, together with the requested documentation, by August 15, 2020. The initial applications will be reviewed by a joint EPFL-UM6P committee.

Selected institutions will then be invited to submit a full proposal by early September 2020. The final selection will be made by the Joint Steering Committee of the Excellence in Africa initiative by end October 2020.

A formal Memorandum of Understanding and an Implementation Agreement will be signed between the designated institutions and the EPFL to set forth the operational and financial details of the project.


For more information:

Excellence in Africa

Station 16
CH – 1015 Lausanne

Contact: [email protected]