Two large multi-partner research projects on international education are opening later this year. The ESRC/HEFCE-funded Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE) (website) is the ‘first UK social science research centre dedicated to the systematic investigation of higher education and its future’ says the press release, noting the sector is ‘less researched than other major social sectors such as health, manufacturing industry and government’. The CGHE will be led by the UCL Institute of Education, partnered by Lancaster University and the University of Sheffield, and will open in October 2015. Importantly, this work will have an international focus, with ‘researchers from the Netherlands, Ireland, the United States, Australia, South Africa, China, Hong Kong and Japan’. I would also like to have seen some more universities from the global south represented too, but it is still early days for collaborations to be set. Secondly, DFID is funding a multi-country research programme called Research on Improving Systems of Education (RISE) studying education systems in developing countries (website, press release). This work is focussed on children in school rather than higher education, noting the success over the past 15 years in getting more children into school but the need for more evidence on the interactions within education systems for policies to be successful. However, better primary education systems can only be a good thing for a long term, highly skilled workforce, with more children able to later attend secondary education, and attend university, and excel at both. Both are further recognition that the education agenda is critical to development efforts, anywhere in the world.