Benchmarks for Academic Programmes
Among the operationalization tools of the regional quality assurance system are the benchmarks for academic programmes that are being developed by Inter-University Council for East Africa. These constitute important building blocks of the East African quality assurance system. They provide a frame of reference for higher education institutions when developing and reviewing academic programmes and curricula. This is important in ensuring that academic programmes and curricula in the region are harmonized. The benchmarks are also important tools in accreditation of academic programmes, particularly for guiding mutual recognition agreements that are being signed by professional bodies at the regional level.
The benchmarks are output based, as guided by statements on learning outcomes, expected competencies and skills, and attitudes. Therefore, the benchmarks also inform the labour market and other stakeholders on what the graduates are able to do after completion of their studies.
The programme benchmarks are also meant to enable the national commissions/councils for higher/university education in the EAC Partner States to assess the quality of the related academic programmes in the process of accreditation. They also enhance regionalization of the labor market, which is one of the goals of EAC as a common market block. In addition, the benchmarks are meant to guide the labour market in judging the quality of the graduates as they look for employment. Most importantly, the benchmarks are meant to promote harmonization of the specific academic programmes and curricula in the EAC Partner States.
The development of programme benchmarks is a continuous process that started in 2007 through a pilot process for benchmarks for Agriculture, Engineering, Human Medicine and Natural Science programmes. Some higher education institutions are already using the pilot benchmarks as IUCEA continues to develop fully-fledged ones. So far some benchmarks have been developed for undergraduate programmes in Business related Studies, Computer Science, and Information Technology and are now in use by stakeholders. Development of benchmarks for Education programmes will be completed by December 2015. It should be noted that the process of developing benchmarks involves various stakeholders in higher education and related field of study, which include the national commissions and councils for higher/university education, higher education institutions, the private sector through the East African Business Council, and employers through the Employers’ Associations in the EAC Partner States, and invited experts from outside the region in the related field of study in order to impart their expertise and experiences in the benchmarks.