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Carnegie Benchmarking Project: Initial Workshop

13th September 2018

The last three days of February 2018 saw a fascinating meeting unfolding at the Elilly Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The hotel was the venue of a meeting of representatives of 13 of the 16 ARUA universities.

The Alliance having been in existence for a few years it was felt that it was necessary to establish a baseline of the research intensity of each of the alliance members and an aggregated picture of the collective. This base line would be of great value in future years when the progress of the members and the collective would be reviewed.

Such assessment could answer the question: did membership accelerate or retard development in various fields of research.

The Support of Carnegie Corporation of New York for this benchmarking exercise is gratefully acknowledged. They of course have a long tradition of supporting the development of higher education in Africa.

They, for example, supported the Higher Education Research and Advocacy Network in Africa (HERANA) project. Ms Claudia Frittelli of Carnegie participated in the three day workshop.

The workshop was facilitated by the ARUA Secretary-General, Prof Ernest Aryeetey, and began with a presentation on the conceptual framework for institutional research performance data presented by Prof Johann Mouton of Crest. This was followed by a presentation on the lessons learnt from the HERANA project given by Prof Nico Cloete of CHET.

The participants of the workshop were also exposed to the IREX/UASP Fellowships in Research Management. Dr Rebecca Ward spoke about how this programme is aimed at developing expertise in research management through short term fellowships in the USA on targeted developmental projects.

Each ARUA member university also presented their take on a proposed set of indicators reflecting on their performance in the areas of research and postgraduate student experience.

One of the vigorously debated topics of the workshop was whether it should be a priority for ARUA to develop a journal index focusing on African journals. The argument for this action was that many of the existing journal indices do not feature many African journals and hence their publications are invisible to the world. The argument against was that we (in Africa) should not shy away from being compared and assessed on a world stage. Further it was pointed that a platform for African journals already exists, namely Africa Journals Online (AJOL).

One of the strategic goals for ARUA is enhancing the postgraduate student experience in ARUA member universities and across the boundaries on joint study programmes. A useful resource discussed was the Strengthening Doctoral Supervision programme.

The next steps in the project plan will be follow-ups with individual university members. This will be led by Dr Gerald Ouma and a small team of experts spread across Africa. There work will entail at least an assessment of the existing capacity and the emphasis that the indicators selected should help senior management make strategic decisions for the benefit of their universities’ staff and students.

Some of the individual university presentations related to possible ARUA benchmarking indicators are shown below.

Individual University Presentations