Over the past 15 years a partnership between the Malawi Polytechnic and Leeds Beckett University has been developed and there have been regular visits in both directions. The partnership is primarily engineering based, addressing the issues of potable water and infrastructure reliability. At present two Malawian academic staff are working towards PhD's under the supervision of Leeds Beckett. These PhD programmes are directed towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). For example, one of the projects is concerned with the development of a cheap sustainable water purification system, using plant extracts, for shallow wells in rural villages. International funding has been obtained from the Water Research Fund for Southern Africa (WARFSA). The other project is concerned with developing the use of local and sustainable materials for road construction.
Interdisciplinary elements have also been created within these PhD projects by working with colleagues from different faculties, such as with microbiology within the Faculty of Health. This has introduced novel elements to these projects and has allowed research findings to be published across subject boundaries. Over the last three years the partnership has significantly strengthened and has jointly produced 10 publications, which have been disseminated to policy makers throughout the world.
In 2007 a Leeds Beckett and University of Malawi link was funded by the England Africa Partnership (EAP) to facilitate curriculum reform in the University of Malawi. The project was for two years and lead to successful review and reforms of the entire University of Malawi fifteen faculties. Members of staff were trained in curriculum review and development, thirty University of Malawi policies and staff contracts were reformed and a Parliamentary Bill on National Council for Higher Education was drafted. It was observed during the curriculum reform project that the University of Malawi is expanding horizontally by introducing many undergraduate courses but is not expanding vertically, i.e. lack of postgraduate programmes. This proposed DelPHE project will complement the EAP project by implementing the vertical expansion of the University of Malawi programmes.
Leeds Beckett has extensive experience of managing links funded through the British Council Higher Education Links scheme and other DfID backed agencies. Leeds Beckett has managed projects funded by the Crown Agents, EU, World Bank and has extensive experience of research projects funded by the EPSRC and other research agencies. The School of the Built Environment at Leeds Beckett has been working in Tanzania since 1985. Most of this work has revolved around in-country capacity building with Dar Es Salaam Institute of Technology (DIT). The partnership has helped DIT grow from a technical college to an institution with its own degree awarding powers. Currently there are 20 Tanzanian based students studying for an MSc in Facilities Management. This course is delivered by distance learning, with funding from the Commonwealth. Some of these students are working in industry, whilst others are academic staff from educational institutions in Tanzania.
A new link has recently been established with the University of Botswana, in particular reference to the DelPHE round 4 bid. The main purpose of the DelPHE bid is to set-up a distributed in-country high level study programme directly related to the sustainability; targeted to both academics and industrialists within Africa. Currently the majority of students from developing countries go overseas for postgraduate study due to the limitations of available courses in-country. The associated costs, both financial and emotional for studying overseas are high. Also, what they are taught and encouraged to research, in general, targets the cultural and economic situation in the host country; little benefit may accrue to the student's country of origin.