Higher Education Institution Assessments
August 22, 2011 - 1:45 p.m.
||Azra Nurkic, Higher Education for Development (HED)
Cornelia Flora, Iowa State University
||Gary Bittner, USAID Office of Education
Azra Nurkic and Cornelia Flora presented guidelines for building partnerships between U.S. and host country tertiary institutions. Nurkic opened the session with an overview of HED’s work supporting higher education partnerships with USAID, and described how projects can show results with greater efficacy by developing results-oriented planning from project inception; implementing regular data collection; and monitoring project outcomes specifically for results. She then summarized USAID and HED’s process of creating requests for applications (RFAs) for higher education institution partnerships, a rigorous, peer-reviewed process.
Flora, of Iowa State University, focused in greater detail on a performance-oriented approach through the example of the Higher Education for Africa Initiative (HEAI). This program utilized USAID’s results-oriented approach and included a long term perspective, though this was difficult to do when results were expected after only 18 months. Flora explained some of the indicators that promote quality partnerships, such as a desire for human capacity development, a replacement and retention plan, and training for people already employed by the host institution. A successful participant in the program has work experience in the field, works at the partner institution, demonstrates leadership and innovation, and has a research plan derived from institutional priorities. A successful U.S. partner institution has a history of on-going involvement in Africa, rewards research and service in this area through promotion and tenure, is committed to working closely with the USAID mission, and is willing to leverage resources. Flora also stressed the importance of a U.S.-based advisor who has an interest in the area and who will work together to maintain ties past the end of the partnership.
Some participants were concerned that because U.S. institutions are not providing good workforce training, it is not effective for them to be instructing host country institutions in this area. Moderator Gary Bittner explained that the partnership allows both institutions to find new innovative results instead of one institution dictating to the other. A representative from American Councils for Education inquired about the presence of HED programs in Eastern Europe, specifically Ukraine, as there are many institutions there that could benefit from such a program. HED has four programs in Eastern Europe, and as the United State’s interest shifts away from this area, there may be less in the coming years. Nurkic suggested that these universities look to the European Council (EC) for guidance in such areas, as the EC’s interest in Eastern Europe is strengthening.
Key take away points included the necessity of rigorous monitoring and evaluation with results in mind from the start. Successful partnerships occur between institutions that respect each other and view each other as peers, not those who take the teacher/student model.
This session presented useful and detailed guidelines for building partnerships between U.S. and host country tertiary institutions.