The report is the result of the project Europe-Africa Quality Connect: Building Institutional Capacity through Partnership (QA Connect) that took place between October 2010 and September 2012. The project was a joint undertaking by the Association of African Universities (AAU), the European University Association (EUA), the Irish Universities Quality Board (IUQB) and the University of Aveiro (UA), Portugal, and co-funded by the Erasmus Mundus Programme of the European Commission. The African Chapter of the Erasmus Mundus Alumni Association was an associated partner.
Project partners agreed to use the methodology of EUA’s Institutional Evaluation Programme (IEP) to test its suitability in different institutional and national contexts in Africa. The IEP’s evaluation approach is conceived as a tool to support the strategic development of universities, within their institutional and national contexts. Thus, IEP does not evaluate on the basis of a uniform set of external criteria. Instead, it examines each institution on its own terms and seeks to provide recommendations in a supportive way.
The IEP methodology was discussed with both the project partners and the evaluation teams. It was found to be sufficiently open and flexible for use in a variety of African contexts. The main change introduced to the IEP approach was in the biregional composition of the evaluation teams, which included three African and two European members.
Following a call for participation, AAU selected five universities with a view to optimising geographic balance. These were: Ahmadu Bello University (Nigeria), Institute of Professional Studies (Ghana), Kenyatta University (Kenya), University of Namibia (Namibia) and Université Omar Bongo (Republic of Gabon).
The five institutions differed in aspects such as size and relationship to the State. Beyond these differences, all were relatively young and have had to respond to increased demand for higher education in a context of very limited public resources. The evaluation teams were aware of these constraints and provided the universities with a range of recommendations related to their core mission, governance, management and strategic capacity.
Feedback on the project was provided through two questionnaires and discussion during a post-evaluation seminar that gathered together representatives of the five institutions, the five evaluation teams, the project partners and the project Advisory Board. By and large, the IEP methodology was found to have worked very well.