What is it about?
Established in 2007, the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership contributes to strengthening links between the parties in the field of higher education. One of the main objectives of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) is building high-quality tertiary capacity through networking, increasing the mobility of students and scholars, and promoting institutional support and innovation.
The dialogue includes, inter alia, discussing ways of supporting the mobility of students and scholars and completing the African higher education harmonisation process.
Why is it needed?
Higher education plays a crucial role for economic and social development in catalysing sustainable development by producing high quality human resources and in disseminating the results of scientific and technical research.
Universal access to quality education must be matched with a responsive higher education system responding to African challenges in infrastructure, financing, retention, training and retraining teachers, harmonisation of educational structures, providing appropriate and relevant skills, quality assurance, recognition of qualifications and research capacity.
Key objectives of Africa-EU cooperation in the area of higher education are the promoting top-quality mobility of African and European students, scholars, researchers and staff as well as the support to the development of centres of excellence in Africa, particularly through the Pan-African University.
What has been done so far?
Significant achievements have already been obtained.
15 university networks involving more than 120 partners from 37 African countries organise academic mobility across the African continent in the framework of the Nyerere Programme. Student mobility and partnerships are also fostered among higher educational institutions in Europe and Africa through programmes such as Erasmus Mundus, Tempus, EDULINK and the new Erasmus+ programme. Furthermore, the African Higher Education Harmonisation and Tuning initiative has been instrumental in addressing key skills and competences for employability and also contributes to the transparency of curricula, the development of learning outcomes and quality assurance. See report: Tuning and Harmonisation of Higher Education: The African Experience.
The Pan-African University (PAU), which is a network of high-quality African universities that provides opportunities for advanced graduate training and postgraduate research to high-performing African students has also been supported. Four of the five regional hubs have already been established in Kenya, Cameroon, Nigeria and Algeria.
The fourth EU-Africa Summit on the theme of "Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace" was held on 2-3 April 2014 in Brussels alongside the "Harmonisation of African Higher Education and Tuning Workshop on Credits and Portability of Qualifications" on 25-27 March 2014. The summit was concluded i.a. with the adoption of a Roadmap 2014-2017.
What are the next steps?
Higher education will remain a focus of the JAES in the coming years, with a particular focus on harmonisation, quality and accreditation.
For the period 2014-2017 an expansion of activities aiming to support the harmonisation of African higher education programmes and the creation of a revitalized, distinctive, attractive and globally competitive African higher education space through enhanced intra-African collaboration is foreseen. Support activities will be coordinated by the African Union Commission (AUC), the Association of African Universities (AAU) and the European Commission.
Moreover, the fifth hub of the PAU is expected to be established in the southern Africa region in 2015.
The Roadmap 2014-2017 includes the following actions:
• the Erasmus+ programme and Marie-Skłodowska-Curie Actions (mobility of African and European students, scholars, researchers and staff…)
• The Intra-Africa mobility programme (scholarships to postgraduate students and mobility of academic and administrative staff within Africa)
• The development of centres of excellence in Africa, in particular the Pan African University
• Expansion of the African Higher Education Harmonisation and Tuning pilot initiative
• Boosting the African Union Higher Education Harmonization and Quality Assurance initiatives
The next African Higher Education Harmonisation and Tuning event will take place in November 2014 in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and will focus on joint degrees – study programmes developed by two or more international universities.
The fifth EU-Africa Summit will be held in 2017 in Africa.