A third phase of the scheme to help African graduates, post graduates and teaching staff move freely between universities on the continent is receiving EU backing of €45 million, under the tenth European Development Fund.
The Mwalimu Nyerere African Union Scholarship Scheme (MNAUSS) covers a range of initiatives to boost mobility for students and staff in higher education, promoting research and capacity building and acting to stem the numbers of qualified graduates leaving for jobs outside the continent.
Opening up academic opportunities
Around 250, mainly postgraduate students will be supported annually as they engage in exchange programmes between universities in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, and in twinning partnerships with Europe and elsewhere.
To build capacity, exchanges of university faculty members for approved teaching programmes and research is also supported, as is staff development, planned and prepared jointly between universities.
Higher education, the stated goal
The AU’s plan of Action sets out to completely revitalize higher education in Africa, “with the emergence of strong and vibrant institutions profoundly engaged in fundamental and development-oriented research, teaching, community outreach and enrichment services to the lower levels of education; and functioning in an environment of academic freedom and institutional autonomy, within an overall framework of public accountability.”
High quality courses
The scheme covers the areas of research and study most likely to help address Africa’s development challenges, focusing on science, technology and innovation. To ensure consistent quality, institutions have to submit key information on their courses including assessment questionnaires. Admission criteria are agreed with the African Union Congress and institutions that complete the process successfully are given grants to cover the number of funded students.
The African Union’s Plan of Action for the Second Decade of Education for Africa recognises the importance of quality assurance in higher education and supports the establishment of a system to measure and compare performance of higher education institutions (HEIs). This will also be a significant step towards making qualifications comparable across the continent.