Institute of Development Policy


Southern partner: Universidad Centroamericana (UCA)

IOB’s partner is the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in Nicaragua, which belongs to the Central and Latin American network of Jesuit universities and is the oldest private university in Central America. IOB and UCA have a long history of institutional collaboration, with first contacts dating back to 1986.

In particular, IOB collaborates with UCA’s Nitlapán Institute, which is specialized in providing services for and conducting research on rural development. The institute’s main focus thereby lies on the topics of microfinance, territorial development, land and natural resources, climate change, food security and value chains.

Goals of the collaboration

First, this collaboration aims to deepen the on-going research cooperation and IOB support for the endogenous research and internationalization strategy of UCA. More specifically, the collaboration aims to enhance the quality, quantity and societal incidence of Nicaraguan/Central American and IOB social science research applied to challenges of equitable and inclusive development, justice and sustainability. A second goal is the active participation of Nicaraguan and Central America researchers within the IOB master framework so as to structure an original, research-based Central American contribution to IOB’s programs. This will enhance the Southern perspectives in the program while at the same time helping to strengthen the Central American research agenda.


Mobility Window: The mobility window is a six-week research internship for IOB students at UCA. During this internship IOB students are usually teamed up with a Nicaraguan junior researcher/student in order to conduct demand-driven research defined by the Nicaraguan partners.​

Dissertation Mobility: The dissertation mobility refers to a research stay of about two months (June-July) during which IOB students can do dissertation research at UCA. The topic of the dissertation is the result of matching demand, i.e. topics proposed by UCA staff, with supply, i.e. topics proposed by IOB students/staff.​

Staff Mobility: The intensified collaboration between the two universities will hopefully result in possibilities for IOB and UCA staff to engage in mutual capacity building as well as to actively participate in teaching activities in both universities.​

Research Post-Graduate: In preparation of the Joint Advanced Master (see below), IOB and UCA will together organize a research post graduate course at UCA in Nicaragua (starting in October 2018). The course will consist of the research methods and a selection of thematic courses of the Joint Masters and mainly target Central American academics who want to upgrade their research skills.​

Joint Advanced Master program: From October 2019 onwards, IOB and UCA will conjointly offer three Advanced Master programs in Development studies. Three out of the four modules of the programs will be offered by at the UCA campus in Managua, whereby one module will take place at the University of Antwerp. The program content will thus be strongly embedded in the context of the Central American development agenda and benefit from the combined expertise of Central American and European academics.​

Alumni seminars: Regular alumni seminars will be organized at UCA for students who followed the IOB Master programs in Antwerp as well as for future students of the planned joint Master programs. This activities are designed to encourage networking activities between students, alumni and the staff involved in the different Master programs.​

Outreach: Cooperation in research and research-based master education aims to strengthen interaction, knowledge exchange and collaboration between UCA and Nicaraguan development actors through long-term alliances.