The African Quality Rating Mechanism (AQRM) institutional assessment and evaluation for self-improvement has been launched by the Association of African Universities in a virtual event hosted on 3rd June 2022 and attended by close to 400 higher education stakeholders. The objectives for organizing the AQRM launch were to i) educate and make Africa’s Higher and Tertiary Education aware of the existence of the AQRM and its importance; ii) make the African Higher and Tertiary Education Community understand the processes and procedures involved in the implementation of the AQRM institutional evaluation for self-improvement iii) make known the benefits of the AQRM and iv) advocate for and encourage African Higher Education institutions to start making use of the AQRM institutional evaluation regularly, at least two (2) times a year
The AQRM is a self-assessment, rating and evaluation tool that African Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) can use to rate the quality of their institutions. This important tool supports continuous quality improvement and the building of a quality culture in Africa’s HEIs. Additionally, the AQRM can be used as a means to assess and fulfil Part A of the African Standards and Guidelines for QA (ASG-QA) which focuses on Internal Quality Assurance (IQA). It is also a vital tool to aid strategic planning in quality assurance for African higher and tertiary education institutions.
In his remarks, the Secretary General of the AAU, Prof. Olusola B. Oyewole continued to encourage and urge the participants to disseminate information on the AQRM to their institutions and other institutions as well. He also emphasized the need for the institutions to also participate in the self-assessment and evaluation process in order to improve the quality of service provision and consequently the quality of graduates and research for Africa’s transformation. The event was coordinated by Dr. Violet Makuku, the Quality Assurance Specialist, Workshops Coordinator and Project Officer at the AAU.
Participants who attended the AQRM launch consisted of all higher education stakeholders including Vice Chancellors (VCs), Deputy VCs, Deans and Directors from Higher Education Institutions and other HE stakeholders. The event was truly global and international because participants were from different parts of the world including; Ghana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, United Kingdom, Lesotho, Canada, Mozambique, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Namibia, Botswana, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, USA, Libya, and Burkina Faso. Others were from Egypt, Guinea, Spain, Somalia, Tanzania, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Portugal, Angola, Mali, Eswatini, Mauritius, Turkey, France, Benin, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malaysia, Switzerland, South Sudan, Tunisia, Cape Verde, Senegal, Burundi, Qatar and Israel.
As background, the African Quality Rating Mechanism was developed by the African Union Commission (AUC) through extensive dialogue with the African Higher Education community, including the Association of African Universities (AAU) and quality assurance experts across the world. It was then adopted by the Conference of Ministers of Education of the African Union (COMDAF) in 2007.
It was announced during the launch event on the 3rd June 2022, that the link for the AQRM questionnaire is available online at https://aqrm.aau.org , while the online expression of interest form was also available at this link: https://www.research.net/r/AAUEva .
African Universities were encouraged to begin using the AQRM tool immediately to benefit from the enormous advantages that it offers towards quality services and products as well as self -improvement. Participants were alerted, that the commitment of the leadership of their institutions and universities, as well as the preparedness of HEIs to undertake the evaluation exercise were very important to the success of the AQRM institutional assessment and evaluation process. They were also informed that there were no opening and closing dates, and thus, institutions could express interest at any time of the year.
Success Stories Showcased During the Launch
Two institutions (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana and The Redeemer’s University, Edo State, Nigeria), were picked as case studies to explain the process, describe their experiences and demonstrate the benefits of undertaking the AQRM institutional assessment and evaluation for self-improvement. They both acknowledged that the thorough processes and procedures of undergoing such an exercise were highly beneficial to them. The institutions narrated how the whole AQRM institutional assessment and evaluation for self-improvement brought immediate, medium and long-term benefits with tangible positive impacts to their institutions. They also highlighted their challenges which were mainly in relation to data collection from the various departments to the AQRM central committee. Institutions were strongly warned, that to access real and total transformation of their institutions, they needed to pay due diligence to this key aspect of the whole exercise. According to them, their respective institutions’ involvement in the whole AQRM exercise resulted in drastic and better rankings both at national and continental levels. They also won grants and generally had their systems and policies strengthened, among others.
More than 15 other African institutions that were part of the initial pilot study as well as those who undertook the AQRM assessments and evaluations under the HAQAA1 Initiative had similarly shared positive feedback and outcomes with the Association of African Universities earlier. They reported that the exercise was useful in helping them to plan using real data and information as opposed to using their own perceptions, judgements and conceptions. The universities also reported the value that such data collected as part of the assessment brought to their overall ratings in their respective countries (Nigeria and Ghana), as well as in Africa and the world at large. In short, the benefits from the process, as reported by the African HEIs which had used the AQRM self-assessment and evaluation tool, are enormous. Among others, their participation in the assessment had helped these institutions to attract regional and international students.
Written by Dr. Violet Makuku, Quality Assurance Specialist, AAU