ENQA and the World Bank on Higher Education in the Middle East and North Africa collaborated on efforts to create a Quality Assurance system in order to facilitate additional support and create better opportunities for Universities in the MENA region and surrounding countries.
MEDITERRANEAN INTEGRATION THROUGH QUALITY ASSURANCE IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Education and labour market links are central to the Bank’s role of poverty alleviation. To bridge the gap between education supply and labour market demands, more systematic attention to tertiary education and greater emphasis on accountability and incentive systems to improve service delivery are essential. Tertiary education enrolment is growing rapidly in the MENA Region. The average enrolment in MENA countries is above 30% of the population aged 18-24, which is high compared to other regions. Many countries have experienced rapid enrolment increases in the past five years, and with the expansion of secondary education and increased number of secondary graduates throughout the region, this trend is likely to increase in the coming years. In addition to this rapid expansion, tertiary education systems are seeking to diversify the type of tertiary education available, ranging from University graduate and undergraduate programmes, to technical and professional degrees granted by polytechnic institutes, community colleges, as well as Open University programmes. There is also a wide interest in the region for developing e-learning and distance education tertiary programmes, and for many of the countries in the region, the expansion of the provision of private tertiary education is stated as one of their goals for the near future.
Quality Assurance in the MENA region
Countries in North Africa and the Middle East are not part of the European Higher Education Area. Most of them have weak QA mechanisms, if any. Cognisant of the growing demand for tertiary education in the region, and the need to provide Quality Assurance services across countries – in addition to the country-level efforts – there are several initiatives that seek to build capacity and provide technical assistance at a regional level. Through the Development Grant Facility (DGF), the World Bank promoted the establishment of a MENA Quality Assurance Network with the following objectives:
- To consolidate the existing regional initiatives into a Network of organisations dedicated to the promotion and enhancement of National Quality Assurance Systems in the MENA region.
- To develop a comprehensive scheme for QA that will enable countries in the region to develop National Quality Assurance systems, relevant for their tertiary Education Systems.
- To build Capacity at national and regional level to help participating countries to establish, consolidate, expand or improve their higher education quality assurance systems.
- To promote and disseminate the exchange of knowledge and expertise in the practice of institutions and programs self-assessment, in setting up peer reviewing systems, external evaluations, and development of improvement plans for institutions and programmes.
Together with the World Bank on Higher Education in the MENA region and through a series of brainstorming meetings with interested potential partners such as: l’Union pour la Méditerranée, ETF (European Training Foundation), ANQAHE (Arab Network for Quality Assurance in Higher Education), OIM (International Organisation for Migration), FEMISE (Forum Euroméditerranéen des Instituts de Sciences Économiques) and others, ENQA actively participated in the shaping and development of a Quality Assurance system in the MENA client countries.
For additional information as regards this joint project, please see here.