What are Benchmarks?

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. In the pipeline benchmarks for Education, Agriculture, Engineering and Medicine are being prepared.

Most important, is to note 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, professional and regulatory bodies, and invited experts from outside the region in the related field of study in order to impart their expertise and experiences in the benchmarks.

Objectives of benchmarks are to:

  1. Act as a guide and tool for the HEIs designing the curriculum;
  2. Enable the National Regulatory Agencies to assess the quality of the academic programmes;
  3. Promote harmonization of the specific programme in the region;
  4. Support staff and student mobility;
  5. Enhance the regionalization of the labor market, which is one of the aims of the East African Community (EAC); and
  6. Guide the labour market in judging the quality of the graduates.
Many countries have agreed with other countries in treaties to mitigate the effects of double taxation (Double Tax Avoidance Agreement). Tax treaties may cover income taxes, inheritance taxes, value added taxes, or other taxes.

Besides bilateral treaties, also multilateral treaties are in place: Countries of the European Union (EU) have also entered into a multilateral agreement with respect to value added taxes under auspices of the EU, while a joint treaty on mutual administrative assistance of the Council of Europe and the OECD exists open to all nations.

Tax treaties tend to reduce taxes of one treaty country for residents of the other treaty country in order to reduce double taxation of the same income. The provisions and goals vary highly; very few tax treaties are alike.