SARUA will collaborate closely with the Southern African Quality Assurance Network (SAQAN) to support universities and national quality assurance agencies in the development of their quality assurance systems. This is to ensure that they participate constructively in the development and implementation of a regional harmonisation agenda, which develops trust in the standards of academic programmes and the quality of the student learning experience, and supports student mobility through the recognition of their learning achievements within a regional qualifications framework.
As part of its quality assurance project, SARUA will explore the establishment of a regional Continuing Education community of practice. Continuing Education is set to play an increasingly important role in meeting needs for lifelong learning and continuing professional development. The consortium will help member universities to address all the aspects that are essential for quality continuing education provision. These includes effective systems for governance, course approval and registration, the certification of learner achievement, course design and the development of resources for course design, teaching and learning resources, and assessment. One of the aims of the Consortium is to function as a self-regulating body that allows member universities to recognise the learning achievements of course participants.
SARUA has begun discussions with the Higher Education Academy in the UK to provide interested academic staff with the opportunity to complete the HEA’s Certificate in Learning and Teaching. This is a comprehensive programme that covers all of the core areas of teaching and learning in higher education, and which has been presented in many parts of the world. Participants who complete the programme successfully may apply to become fellows of the Higher Education Academy. In the longer term, the programme will develop a core of group of staff who will be able to develop the programme within their own universities or within the region. Furthermore, SARUA will also explore a collaboration agreement with the Cape Higher Education Consortium (CHEC), in order to give SARUA members access to the CHEC Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education Teaching and Learning (PG Dip (T&L) (HE)).
Online and blended learning complements traditional face to face learning, and presents a critical opportunity for universities in the SADC to address many challenges that they have struggled to address within the conventional campus-based approach to higher education provision. SARUA will focus on the enormous opportunities that online and blended learning provides for increasing the very low higher education participation rate in the SADC through high quality online and blended learning courses that make effective use of open education resources. It will do so by focusing on capacity development opportunities for academics and staff in teaching and learning centres to develop and deliver high quality online and blended learning courses., and on the development of learning materials and tools to support online and blended learning.