Site of publication: Association of African Universities
Type of publication: Strategic Plan
Date of publication: August 2016
Preparation of the third AAU Strategic Plan for the five-year period 2016 – 2020 was undertaken following conclusion of implementation of the second AAU Strategic Plan that ran from 2011 to 2015. It should be recalled that, the first AAU Strategic Plan was prepared for a period of 8 years that ran from 2003 – 2010, both inclusive. The purpose of this five-year plan is to guide AAU management decisions and actions during the period, to achieve maximum efficiency, productivity, and growth in programmes in a collaborative manner. The plan also provides an opportunity for AAU to deeply reflect on its achievements and constraints during its 50th anniversary in the year 2017.
Furthermore, it will also assist AAU to chart the path towards the next 50 years. This will be achieved through mainstreaming the new strategies necessary for ensuring sustainable development of Africa through the programmes identified and prioritised in the plan. The plan has also addressed the critical issue of capacity building in resource mobilisation for leaders of the African Higher Education Institutions and recognises the implications of the increasing youthfulness of the African workforce. It has to be further noted that as a continental body, AAU has a very close working relationship with the African Union (AU) in view of its recognition as its implementing agency for Higher Education in the continent where AAU has an Observer status.
Strategic Directions (2016-2020)
The strategic focus of the Plan is to build the capacity of AAU member institutions and the Secretariat, as well as to develop stronger relations with the African Union Commission, regional and sub-regional bodies, development partners, university communities and student associations within and outside Africa. The continuing emphasis on stakeholder relations and university-industry linkages, more specifically, has the potential to meet the educational and development needs of the continent. The goals of the Strategic Plan fall into three broad categories, namely capacity building of member institutions themselves; capacity building of member institutions to address societal needs; and organizational matters specific to AAU. These three goals are further divided into seven (7) Key Result Areas (KRAs) with specific Strategic Objectives (SO) as follows:
- KRA 1: Strengthening HEIs’ Delivery Capacity in Africa
SO 1: Enhance Leadership and Management Capacity in HEIs
SO 2: Improve ICT capacity, networking and collaboration among HEIs
SO 3: Improve QA Capacity in African HEIs SO 4: Advocate for Staff and Students’ Development in Africa
SO 5: Facilitate Linkages with the Productive Sector
SO 6: Increase collaboration with Civil Society
SO 7: Increase Access to HE through New Modes of Teaching and Learning
SO 8: Intensify outreach on Internationalisation of HEIs in Africa
- KRA 2: Knowledge Generation, Management and Dissemination
SO 9: Improve capacity for knowledge production and management
SO 10: Increase access to information on knowledge produced by HEIs
SO 11: Increase ICT Infrastructure for knowledge management
SO 12: Enhance standardised data collection in HEIs
- KRA 3: Supporting HEIs’ Respond to Local and Regional Needs
SO 13: Emphasise Teacher Training
SO 14: Promote Research and Innovation
- KRA 4: Engaging with African and International Partners in Development for Improved Collaboration
SO 15: Enhance collaboration with African and International Partners
SO 16: Increase collaboration with African Sub-Regional HE Associations
SO 17: Enhance strategic relations with Ghana, the host country
- KRA 5: Promoting HEIs Engagement in Communities
SO 18: Enhance collaboration between AAU and student bodies
SO 19: Bridge the university-community divide
- KRA 6: Strengthening Capacity for Service Delivery at the AAU Secretariat
SO 20: Improve communication services at the AAU Secretariat
SO 21: Enhance financial management
SO 22: Improve capacity for project planning, design and management
SO 23: Enhance management and administrative systems
SO 24: Increase level of Board involvement in promoting AAU activities
SO 25: Complete physical infrastructure, and equip and enhance facilities at the AAU Secretariat
SO 26: Secure financial sustainability of the Association
- KRA 7: Improving AAU Membership Size, Quality and Commitment
SO 27: Increase AAU membership
SO 28: Ensure credibility of new membership
SO 29: Improve existing members’ commitment to AAU activities
Ongoing Programmes and Projects under the Core Programme (2013 – 2017)
The Leadership Development (LEDEV) workshop series have been implemented to strengthen the leadership of university leadership to fully understand and appreciate the dynamics of running their institutions in a constantly changing environment. The programme provides leadership training for Vice Chancellors and other institutional heads to enable them provide strategic direction and leadership to their institutions. The workshop series has been running since 2007.
Realizing that leadership cannot thrive in isolation, the Management Development (MADEV) workshop series has been running concurrently with the LEDEV series to instill managerial skills and improve systems, processes and procedures to enhance quality of service delivery by middle managers (Provosts, Deans of Colleges, Schools and Faculties, Heads of Departments and their Deputies, etc.) in African HEIs.
Furthermore, the AAU established the Research and Education Networks Unit (RENU) in 2006 to act as the ICT clearinghouse for African universities, with particular focus on assisting universities to better utilise ICT in their teaching, research and administrative activities, and to effectively manage ICT infrastructure and services on campuses. The RENU has contributed to the establishment of strong relationships between the African and the global research and education networking communities.
The AAU is part of an international consortium implementing the Harmonisation of African Higher Education, Quality Assurance and Accreditation (HAQAA) Initiative whose objectives include the development of the Pan-African quality assurance system, enhancing regional collaboration in quality assurance, and capacity building for both national quality assurance agencies and quality assurance units in universities in Africa.
The AAU continues to run the Database of African Theses and Dissertations (DATAD) programme, initiated in 2000 to support the visibility of African scholarly works. DATAD creates repositories and showcases the theses and dissertations completed in African Universities electronically. Through its implementation, the programme has developed human and institutional capacities in many African universities for the electronic collection, management and dissemination of research outputs.
Higher education is a critical component of human development worldwide. It provides not only the high level skills necessary for every labour market but also the training essential for teachers, doctors, nurses, civil servants, engineers, entrepreneurs, scientists, social scientists, and a myriad of other personnel. It is these trained individuals who develop the capacity and analytical skills that drive local economies, support civil society, teach children, lead effective governments, and make important decisions which affect entire societies.
The State of Higher Education in Africa
Currently, Africa has about 2,000 institutions of higher learning of which over 1000 are universities. The sector has grown rapidly since the 1960s, facilitated by rising population and growing demand, expansion of African economies and resultant need for skilled labour, and the establishment and proliferation of a private higher education sub-sector. For instance, within a spate of 15 years, students’ population tripled from 2.7 million in 1991 to 9.3 million in 2006, with suggestions from the World Bank that the continent could potentially habour between 18 million to 20 million students by 2015 (The World Bank, 2010).
The continuous massification of enrolments comes with attendant challenges. These include, among others, the leadership and management capacity of HEIs to deliver on the core mandates of their institutions, the quality of the degrees and other qualification being churned out, pressures on infrastructure; need to have relevant pedagogies to shape the content of the courses being run, and scholarly productivity and global competitiveness. There is also the need for HEI managers to pursue resource mobilization without affecting the quality of their products.
New Programmes and Projects
Whiles some current on-going quality programmes were rolled over in the Plan, new areas were also identified through the environmental scan. The AAU’s current LEDEV, MADEV, UNIVAD, DATAD, Academic Staff Exchange Programme, Small Grants for Theses and Dissertations programme, and the Quality Assurance Support Programme for African Higher Education are among the current programmes rolled over in this Plan. Others include programmes on Fostering University-Industry Linkages and promoting graduate employability; Research and Education Networks, Promoting Africa Centres of Excellence and the ECOWAS Nnamdi Azikiwe Academic Mobility Scheme (ENAAMS).
The new areas identified in the environmental scan have been classified under the appropriate Key Results Areas (KRAs) below:
KRA 1: Strengthening HEIs delivery capacity in Africa
- Promote partnerships at the continental level between regional RENs and global RENs
- Build capacity on higher education management information systems
- Run webinars on AAU flagship programmes
- Establish a Centre for Capacity Development on QA at the AAU Secretariat
- Establish links with organisations working with Diasporans
- Create a database of Diasporans with expertise in various disciplines
- Support training on entrepreneurial education in HEIs
- Run online-modular entrepreneurship course for students
- Promote support for business start-ups from university research
- Develop capacity building programmes for diverse CSOs and NGOs
- Organise sensitisation and training on new modes of teaching and learning
- Establish capacity building programmes in resource mobilisation for HEIs
- Promote the application of ODL in HEIs as well as Blended Learning.
KRA 3: Supporting HEIs response to local and regional needs
- Collaborate with partners to promote teacher training
- Promote quality and applied research on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) in Africa
- Conduct research methodology workshops for PhD students
- Commission research on SDGs
KRA 5: Promoting HEIs Engagements in Communities
- Collaborate on capacity building and appropriate programmes designed for students
- Facilitate community engagement through agreed students’ projects
KRA 6: Strengthening Capacity for Service Delivery at AAU Secretariat
- Engage in for-profit activities as part of internally generated funds to support residual donor funds
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