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Capacity development in quality assurance

1. Harmonisation of African Quality Assurance and Accreditation (HAQAA)

The Executive Director attended the meeting of the Advisory Board for the Harmonisation of African Quality Assurance and Accreditation (HAQAA) Initiative in Maputo, Mozambique, hosted by CNAQ, on 21-22 March 2018.  

The African Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance (ASG-QA) are now almost in their final form. The specific purpose of the ASG-QA is  to support higher education institutions and quality assurance agencies in Africa to:

  1. have a common framework and understanding of quality assurance systems for teaching and learning among all stakeholders at continental, regional and national level;
  2. develop mutual trust thus facilitate recognition and mobility of students and human resources within and across national borders of the continent;
  3. ensure quality improvement/ enhancement in higher education in the continent through self-assessment, external peer review and continuous monitoring and evaluation;
  4. promote transparency and accountability by providing appropriate information on quality assurance to the public;
  5. support higher education institutions to develop a sustainable quality culture; and
  6. promote international competitiveness of Africa’s higher education system.

The ASG-QA will be presented to the next Science and Technology Committee (STC) of the African Union in 2019. Once approved by this committee, it will go to the Heads of State Summit.

Information resources and a communication strategy need to be developed in order to demonstrate the relationship between the HAQAA Initiative and the Pan African Quality Assurance and Accreditation Framework (PAQAF).

The development of the ASG-QA forms one of the focus areas of the PAQAF, while the others are:

  • Facilitate collaboration and networking between national and regional QA/accreditation agencies;
  • Initiate organizational set-up and legal framework of a Continental Accreditation Agency;
  • Initiate the development of an African Continental Qualifications Framework based on existing national and regional qualifications frameworks; and
  • Advance the development of an African Credit Transfer System

The HAQAA Initiative will issue a call for external quality assurance agencies to participate in pilot reviews according to the ASG-QA during 2018. Five pilot reviews of more established national quality assurance agencies (QAA), and five consultancy visits to countries with emerging national QAA or the interest to develop one will be conducted in 2018. Interested agencies will be invited to apply during 2018.

The HAQAA Initiative provides the framework within which SARUA should take the project for the development of internal quality assurance or management systems forward.


2.  SARUA Quality Assurance Project

2.1  Workshop on capacity building needs for quality assurance in the SQDC

As reported to the Executive Committee meeting of November 2017, SARUA collaborated with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the South African Quality Assurance Network (SAQAN) to present a workshop on capacity building needs for quality assurance in the SQDC on 9-10 October 2017.

The objectives of the workshop were to:

  • Raise awareness and facilitate a better understanding of the benefits of regional cooperation on quality assurance;
  • Take stock of divergences and communalities between national systems within a regional cooperation framework;
  • Analyse the existing internal quality assurance structures at institutional level and external quality assurance structures at national level against the backdrop of the draft African Standards and Guidelines;
  • Develop a common understanding on the interrelationship between internal and external quality assurance; and
  • Identify current needs and challenges in terms of capacity development for different target groups, and develop strategies to respond to these challenges.

The workshop identified a range of internal and external QA needs were identified. A general agreement has been arrived at that firstly, SAQAN, SARUA and the SADC Technical Committee on Accreditation will liaise after the workshop report and the commissioned research findings are available. Secondly, there is a broad consensus that SARUA will be responsible for Internal QA capacity building while SAQAN will be responsible for external QA capacity building.

 The following key reports have been developed in association with the workshop:

  • A general conference report by A Sursock of the European Union
  • A report on the State of Play in Regional Quality Assurance in Southern Africa which was commissioned by DAAD to assist the key partners in determining the Internal ( ie for universities) and External ( for QA regulatory agencies ) needs that can inform a regional capacity building programme for the SADC region.

 As a follow-up to the 2017 workshop, the Executive Director arranged to meet with the Chairperson of SAQAN on 15 February 2018 in order to discuss the preparation of a joint funding proposal. Unfortunately, the Chair of SAQAN, Prof Narend Baijnath, had to cancel this meeting at short notice. However, the Executive Director received confirmation at the HAQAA Advisory Board meeting that DAAD is committed to supporting the quality assurance project in the SADC. The Executive Director will meet with Prof Baijnath during May 2018, in order to discuss the development of the funding proposal to DAAD.