African universities go international
African universities have identified a need to develop
the international dimension of their university administrations.
This is currently one of the major constraints to their performance
in research and teaching and to their role as development actors.
The AUDIS project aims to combat this trend by creating better regional
conditions for effective networking and by building the capacity
of African universities to develop and carry out internationalisation
policies and projects in the teaching and research sectors.
Specifically, the “African Universities International Dimension
Strengthening” (AUDIS) project will reinforce the management
and financial administration capacity of African Higher Education
Institutions (HEIs) by creating and strengthening policies and services
related to international relations.
Bringing together the expertise
AUDIS can count on a strong network of twelve African and two
European universities, one association of European universities
and various African and European associates. The consortium’s
major asset is the long networking experience and strong internationalisation
expertise of its coordinator, the University of Padova in Italy,
and its two European partners, the Coimbra Group and the Catholic
University of Leuven in Belgium.
The consortium will take on the challenge of boosting the international
dimension of its African partners. This will be achieved through
four joint sets of activities based on extensive inter-institutional
networking and sharing of best academic and administrative practices
between its African and European partners.
The AUDIS partnership will hold an initial seminar in Senegal
to identify the common issues and training needs of its African
partner institutions, with a view to strengthen their capabilities
in developing and planning international relations. Based on these
problems and needs, proposals will be developed for African HEIs
to carry out training projects to enhance their international dimension.
Some of the activities in these training projects will include
improving international relations
management and mobility management of students and teaching staff, recognition of diplomas and credit transfer, and fund raising.
They will focus on the leading academic and administrative staff
of the 12 African partner institutions, who will in turn transfer
knowledge and disseminate results to their administrative services
Putting European training in African practice
Phase 2 of AUDIS will consist of training activities for the African
partners’ administrative and academic authorities. The training
will take place in Europe on the issues outlined in the needs assessment
seminar, based on best practice and a "learning from errors"
In phase 3, the projects developed during the needs assessment
seminar will first be launched by means of internal calls for proposals
and subsequently carried out by African partner universities.
Finally, AUDIS will organise a three-day seminar in Mozambique
to present and discuss the action’s outcomes and to evaluate
and disseminate results. In addition to AUDIS partners and associates,
it will involve non-partner African HEIs, relevant ministries and
international agencies. The major goal of this final seminar will
be to share best practices and spread the improvements to other
Making an impact on higher education in Africa
A concrete result of the AUDIS project will be an improved capacity
of the partners’ International Relations Offices to set
up collaborative programmes and develop curricula that are international
in perspective, organise student and staff exchanges, apply for
international (including EU) project funds and scholarships, and
administrate international programmes.
Yet more important, AUDIS partners believe that their project
will have a considerable impact on the political level by enhancing
awareness and commitment of African higher education systems to
networking and international education. It will reinforce the role
of international services in their university structures and make
regional cooperation a strategic objective of their academic activities.
In this way, AUDIS will contribute to overcome the isolation of
African HEIs in the international academic community by transforming
the existing traditional systems of bilateral relations between
the African and European HEIs into a network of horizontal and multilateral
relations, both at regional and international level.
Setting up joint or network projects will help African HEIs overcome
their limited resources for research and teaching projects. This
will allow African HEIs and the relevant ministries of their countries
to plan their activities on an international scale and to play a
more active role in the international scientific debate.