The first HAQAA2 AB meeting took place virtually on 23rd and 24th June, 2020.
The HAQAA2 virtual meeting was attended by the Executive Committee – formed by the African Union (AUC) , the European Union (EC) and the OBREAL Global Observatory – the Advisory Board (AB) members from strategic regional organisations, invited guests and the HAQAA 2 Implementing team.
The AB meeting has kicked off with an introduction by the OBREAL GLOBAL President, Prof. Ramon Torrent, who pointed out the significance of this first meeting for the implementation of HAQAA2 with OBREAL Global as the coordinator of the consortium team. Prof. Torrent also highlighted the high value of quality assurance (QA) as a tool to help universities to define what they want and how to achieve it.
Subsequently, Prof. Torrent introduce the AUC and the EC representatives for the official opening. Prudence Ngwenyo, Head- Human Resource and Youth Development at AUC, highlighted the AUCs’ expectations for HAQAA2 and emphasised the results of the initiative, ensuring it’s contribution to the harmonization, higher education quality assurance systems and human capital development policies of the continent. During her speech, Mrs. Ngwenyo mentioned the need for the African Union and external stakeholders to continue working together to foster joint ownership and individual/mutual accountability having holistic focus on vision and inclusivity and, most importantly, being sustainable impactful and speed in delivery.
On her part, Deirdre Lennan, European Commission viewed 2020 as being a special year on the African Union and European Union relations as outlined in the new strategy. Ms. Lennan was cognizant of the fact that HAQAA2’s purpose is to ensure that quality assurance and relevance is brought to the forefront and that the HE system in Africa can respond to the needs of the young.
After the opening speeches, each organisation shared in a tour de table format their current developments on the following topics:
- quality assurance in the context of HE reform,
- relevance of continental harmonisation,
- how the outputs of HAQAA1 have been further implemented in their countries and regions.
During the meeting, the strategic partners agreed that it is critical to disseminate the ASG-QA, develop synergies and contextualize trainings in all linguistic regions of the continent. It was also agreed the importance of having students and alumni as a critical regional stakeholder since they are instrumental in the QA process on the continent.
The AUC outlined its vision for CESA, PAQAF and the role and expectations for the HAQAA2 contract especially regarding Harmonization as a strategic way to bridge the gap across countries and regions and therefore having HAQAA as a critical instrument for PAQAF. The EC then inherently expounded on the importance of Africa-EU Strategic Partnership and support for higher education as witnessed by the fact that the first mission outside the EU for the new EU Commission President was to Addis Ababa, followed up on 9th March by the publication of a new strategy with Africa.
This discussion was followed by an overview of HAQAA2 – Actions, activities and expectations for the AB describing HAQAA1 (2015-18) as being a huge impulse for the PAQAF framework – continuing the development of several of the action lines and tools and having the publication of the ASG-QA as one of the main outputs.
Given the current global pandemic the HAQAA2 Advisory Board Meeting took place virtually and participants also look into quality assurance in light of the challenges of the COVID 19 crisis. They agreed that the issue of resilience needs to be addressed by IQA and EQA and action on governance needs to be taken in terms of crisis management. The AB also mentioned that is crucial to move towards more systematic blended modes of learning.
As a conclusion of the first HAQAA2 Advisory Board Meeting, it was agreed that it is important to build on existing activities and platform and have a campaign on access to digital tools and share good practice. The two day discussion then ended with announcement of a plan for the Africa-EU Summit sometime in October 2020 and the interest to have an event involving NRENs (looking at connectivity) linked to a HAQAA event taking into account that QA and connectivity have an important relationship in the COVID/Post-COVID context. Additionally, the convening of the next AB planned after the European summer.
You can watch the SARUA webinar on HAQAA Phase 1, held on Wednesday 5 August https://hamilton.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=463dda3c-adc3-463d-ba6c-ac0e00b8b2b0