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African HE quality assurance council to form

As the demand for higher education in Africa increases, so too does the mobility of students and faculty across the continent.  With the aim of harmonising quality assurance among African countries and facilitating cross-border degree recognition, a group of industry experts and stakeholders have agreed to establish the African Quality Assurance and Accreditation Council for Higher Education (AQAACHE).

Currently only 19 of Africa's 55 states have national quality assurance agencies

Backed by the African Union (AU), which comprises 54 of the continent’s 55 states, AQAACHE will take over responsibilities from the AfriQAN quality assurance body of the Association of African Universities. It would have the political and legal backing of African countries in its efforts to unify quality standards at higher education institutions in all nations.

The AQAACHE will be charged with promoting quality in all private, state and federal higher education institutions

The decision was made at a higher education quality assurance workshop hosted by the AU in Addis Ababa Ethopia last month. “The decision of AU Executive Council for establishing a Continental Accreditation Agency is imperative following the increased drive towards regional integration, harmonization of higher education and strengthened intra-African collaboration,” stated the workshop’s communiqué.

AQAACHE will be charged with promoting quality in all private, state and federal higher education institutions including open and distance universities. It plans to unite existing national frameworks through its quality assurance framework and to set up regulatory bodies where they don’t exist. Currently only 19 African states have national quality assurance agencies.

According to the communiqué, AQAACHE could also be called upon to update the Arusha convention goals which were established in 1981 and revised in 2002 to provide guidelines for cross-national, sub-regional and regional recognition of degrees and credits.

“The continental quality assurance framework should incorporate African Credit Transfer System to facilitate mobility of staff, students and labour across the continent,” it states.

AQAACHE will be formally endorsed by the Conference of Minister of the African Union (COMEDAF) and is set to receive start-up funding from the AU. However, speaking with University World News, Jonathan Mba, director of research and planning and AfriQAN coordinator, said the decisions made at the workshop were “not binding on either the African Union Commission or the AAU-AfriQAN”.

Mba predicted that any action to followed up the workshop would be severely delayed due to bureaucracy and that the “staus quo still holds”.

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