This article discusses North–South–South higher education collaboration as a context for development education. We analyse an intensive course on qualitative research methods and culturally responsive education organized by a network of five universities from global South and global North. The course aimed to enhance qualitative understanding of quality learning and educational practices through approaches of contextual and cultural relevance, in line with Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4). The course initiated a research-focused learning dialogue among students and researchers and encouraged participants to reflect and critique their views and to engage with alternative knowledges. Analysis of participants' course feedback highlights the opportunities and limits of North– South–South collaboration for enhancing contextual, cultural and epistemological awareness for a better understanding of quality education.