Theme: Advancing Excellence in African Higher Education
African higher education has recorded phenomenal growth in the last decades creating opportunities for millions of students—and in the process, building capacities for national, social and economic advancement. The sector, which is currently estimated to enroll some 20 million students however still needs to scale up, as the enrollment rate for the sector continue to remain in single digits in many countries.
The expansion however brought about numerous nagging issues pertaining particularly to quality and excellence. Despite massive financial injection, the sector remains one of the most, if not the most financially challenged in the world with implications for every facet of the higher education landscape.
Consequently, the narrative on African higher education has been disproportionately exhibited in a deficit mode, typically highlighting it in a crisis and defective mode—permanently. This phenomenon has relentlessly pushed the debates and dialogues to focus on challenges and problems, instead of focusing on what has been achieved so far and dampening the opportunities for success and excellence.
Despite the challenges and issues that have confronted the sector, some pockets of excellence—typically at institutional or departmental levels—have been well recorded. Some meagre body of knowledge, experience and perspectives on how these entities have overcome—and even thrived exists, creating an opportunity for a more nuanced narrative in advancing African higher education.
The AAU’s year 2023 COREVIP will seek to focus specifically on excellence and successful initiatives, interventions and outcomes in African higher education by highlighting the key enabling elements within the sub-themes outlined below: The proposed sub-themes include, but not limited to:
- Doctoral education
African Higher Education has witnessed massive expansion in the last decade opening up unprecedented opportunities for access. This trend is anticipated to continue and potentially increase more rapidly in the foreseeable future. Doctoral education resides centrally in this phenomenal development and its role in advancing excellence in African higher education cannot be overemphasized. Accordingly, efforts are underway to strengthen the doctoral education landscape in the continent which faces a plethora of challenges. The upcoming AAU Conference intends to extensively explore and propose relevant interventions and recommendations for the advancement of excellence in doctoral education in Africa.
- Institutional differentiation
Despite the phenomenal expansion that the African higher education has witnessed, only little can be said about its differentiation. The new institutions have tended to copycat existing institutions in their form, content and culture—falling under a very strong spell of institutional isomorphism. This has undermined efforts of institutional and program diversity as well as establishing centers of excellence that are paramount in national higher education systems. The Conference will undertake a robust dialogue and analysis to advance institutional differentiation, among others, re-calibrate institutional mission and revisit existing (and dominating) modalities of delivery (by capitalizing on virtual/distance learning), in pursuit of excellence in higher education systems.
- Partnership/cooperation and internationalization
Research and academic collaboration, as a phenomenon of internationalization, have taken center stage in promoting quality and advancing excellence. Institutional vigor, status and reputation are now measured in terms of the scope and magnitude of international partnerships and academic cooperation. Student mobility, academic exchange, joint research and program development have emerged as key aspects in advancing academic excellence. The Conference will explore the challenges of promoting internationalization, for instance rankings, and academic partnerships and advance relevant and appropriate approaches to foster it.
- University-industry linkages
The importance of university-industry linkages has been well established in advancing multi-disciplinary research, public-private partnership, innovation, entrepreneurship and excellence. Of recent, entrepreneurship and public-private partnerships have garnered robust support, among others, to expand employment and job creation opportunities—key aspects of development in the continent. While the contributions of university-industry linkages in advancing excellence and relevance has long been well understood, this particular path to excellence has not been fully exploited for a number of reasons. The Conference, while identifying the impediments, will propose relevant and practical interventions to address it.
- Funding and financing
The massive expansion of the higher education sector in Africa has not been matched with commensurate resources. The sector, which is striving to address a deficit in access, equity, quality, and excellence needs to scale up and diversify its sources of funding. It is well established that developing countries need to invest one percent (1%) of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) towards research, yet, most countries are to pursue that in a more sustainable, strategic, and equitable manner. In countries where public funding for the sector has reached a threshold, multiple avenues of generating both public and private resources have been sought. As key to the advancement of excellence and quality in higher education, the Conference will deliberate on how African countries and their higher education institutions need to navigate the chronic challenges of financing the sector in the aftermath of post-Covid 19 and the global economic, social and political upheavals.
- Role of intellectual diaspora
Africa has a huge untapped capital in the intellectual diaspora. The human, financial and technical potential of the intellectual diaspora in advancing African higher education has been well recognized, recently. The Carnegie Corporation of New York’s African Diaspora initiative in advancing higher education in the continent through the diaspora, is one case in point. Based on the lessons learned and experiences acquired—from such organizationally supported and also privately steered initiatives — the Conference will vigorously explore this emerging trend in advancing excellence in African higher education.
Deadline for submission of abstracts: 31st January 2023
Deadline for submission of full papers: 15th May 2023
Expected date of publication: December 2023
Interested individuals are invited to submit an abstract, of not more than 500 words, by 31st January, 2023 at https://event-mgt.aau.org/event/73/
Contributors will receive a response at the completion of their submission to the email account they provided.
Following the review of abstracts, successful invitees will be notified on the outcome of their submissions within three weeks of the closing date and invited to submit a full paper for consideration. It should be noted that invited submissions will be subjected to a blind review thus invitation for submission does not imply acceptance for publication. Guidelines for submission will be provided with the invitation for full paper submission.
Accepted full papers will be published as AAU proceedings, following a presentation and feedback, as an outcome of the conference in 2023. Select papers will be published, after further review, as a special issue of the International Journal of African Higher Education—a South African based, peer-reviewed and accredited journal, listed on African Journals Online.
Dr. Ayenachew Aseffa, Ethiopia
Asso. Prof. Gift Masaiti, Zambia
Prof. Ibrahim Oanda, Kenya
Dr. Lester Brian Shawa, Tanzania/South Africa
Asso. Prof. Jude Ssempebwa, Uganda
Editorial Advisory Team:
Prof. Goski Alabi, Laweh Open University, Ghana—Member
Dr. Ayenachew Aseffa: St Mary’s University, Ethiopia and Center for International Higher Education, Boston College, USA—Secretary
Prof. Taky Hortense Atta Diallo, Cote d’ivoire—Member
Prof. Youhansen Eid, National Authority for Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Education, Egypt
Prof. Ibrahim Oanda, University of Kenyatta, Kenya—Member
Prof. Christine Ofulue, National Open University of Nigeria – Member
Asso. Prof. Gift Masaiti, University of Zambia, Zambia—Member
Prof. Chika Sehoole, University of Pretoria, South Africa—Member
Prof. Juma Shabani, Doctoral Academy, University of Burundi, Burundi—Member
Dr. Lester Brian Shawa, Regional Education Coordinator for the Kühne Foundation, Tanzania and University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa/Kenya—Member
Asso. Prof. Jude Ssempebwa, Makerere University, Uganda—Member
Prof. Damtew Teferra, Association of African Universities, Ghana—Chair
Date and Venue of Conference
COREVIP 2023 meets in July 2023 at a venue to be determined later.