The AQRM is a key institutional assessment tool of the PAQAF, approved originally by the COMDAF of the African Union in 2007. It is aimed at supporting institutional quality in higher education via self‐assessment. It is essentially a self‐evaluation/self‐rating tool that consists of three parts: the survey questionnaire (section 1), institutional‐level quality reference points (section 2), and programme‐level quality reference points (section 3). Under HAQAA2 work revision, the AAU is conducting a content review of the AQRM tool.
African Quality Rating Mechanism (AQRM)
What is AQRM?
The African Quality Rating Mechanism (AQRM) is a quality assessment tool for higher education institutions in Africa that supports continuous quality improvement. It is an official tool of the Pan-African Quality Assurance and Accreditation Framework (PAQAF) of the African Union. More specifically, AQRM is a self-evaluation/rating tool for higher education institutions (HEIs) which can be used as a means for the assessment and fulfilment of Part A of the African Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance (ASG-QA) (see description below).
The AQRM survey questionnaire consists of three parts:
- Section 1 – Background information which addresses (a) the institution’s general information, (b) the institution’s profile, (c) students’ profile, (d) facilities, (e) faculty/staff profile, (f) governance and management, (g) teaching and learning, (h) linkage with the industry sector, (i) research and community outreach, and (j) internationalization.
- Section 2 – Self-rating at institutional level comprising key reference points and standards for quality rating that address (a) governance and management, (b) infrastructure, (c) finance, (d) teaching and learning, (e) research, publication and innovation, and (f) community/societal engagement.
- Section 3 – Self-rating at programme level comprised of key reference points and standards on quality rating of programmes that address (a) programme planning and management, (b) curriculum development, (c) teaching and learning, (d) assessment, and (e) programme results. Institutions are asked to rate themselves against standards defined under each reference point, on a scale of 0-4. There are 49 Institutional level standards and 35 Programme level standards. .
How is AQRM carried out?
The AQRM has been defined to have two broad components namely (i) self-completion of the online Questionnaire by the institution; and (ii) Site visit by independent, external panel of quality assurance experts to the institution to verify information contained in the Questionnaire.
In this sense, the completion of the online survey tool should ideally be complemented with a verification visit, conducted by an external expert panel. In the context of the initiative ‘Harmonization of Quality Assurance and Accreditation Phase II (HAQAA2)’, funded by the EU’s Pan African programme (2019-2022), African HEIs will have the opportunity to apply for verification visits.
What is the policy status at the continental level?
The AQRM was adopted by the Conference of Ministers of Education of the African Union (COMDAF) in 2007. The survey is publicly available online for any interested institutions at the website of the Association of African Universities (AAU), the lead implementing body of the African Union Commission on higher education (link).
What are the ASG-QA?
The African Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance (ASG-QA) document is a set of standards and guidelines for internal and external QA in higher education. These standards are not meant to be prescriptive, but they rather provide a mechanism for quality attainment in African HEIs and Quality Assurance Agencies (QAAs). They were developed to add value to institutions and QAAs by providing a unified framework applicable to all QA processes, allowing an enhancement-led approach for the escalation of institutional and educational quality. The ASG-QA addresses Internal quality assurance (IQA) – Part A, and External quality assurance (EQA) (Part B) and quality assessment of quality assurance agencies Part C). The latter has inspired a review process for QAAs in Africa, to ensure transparency and common standards regarding their functioning.
AQRM and ASG-QA as complementary tools under PAQAF
AQRM is an instrument to be used by HEI to gather evidence and assess themselves in terms of their quality provision. It can be used to assess to what extent they are achieving the minimum standards contained in the ASG-QA Part A to ensure quality of provision and quality assurance processes.