Call for Proposals

A collective initiative to strengthen teaching and learning in African higher education: terms of reference for a scoping and validation study

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Under the auspices of the SPHEIR programme, between 2017 and 2021, three partnerships – PEBL, TESCEA and PEDAL – brought together universities, higher education agencies and NGOs to improve the quality and relevance of teaching and learning in African universities.  Collectively the three initiatives have supported over 100 African universities and their academic staff to:

  • redesign courses, including for blended learning
  • rethink pedagogy
  • strengthen quality assurance systems
  • engage employers and communities

Building on the success of these initiatives, the ACU, INASP and PASGR (the lead organisations, on behalf of the three partnerships) are exploring the development of a collaborative initiative, which would leverage the expertise, resources and capacity to enable these and other universities to continue the process of change, and to respond to the digital shifts necessitated by the pandemic.

Objectives of study

The ACU, working with INASP and PASGR, seeks a consultant to undertake a scoping and validation study to inform the development of the new initiative. It seeks to answer the following questions, to enable the group to judge the scope for such an initiative, and possible ways in which it could be designed, structured and funded.  

Demands, needs, and enabling conditions

  • What demand exists for an initiative of this type from the African higher education community? What scope would there be for co-financing from the community (i.e. from universities or national agencies)?
  • What other initiatives, either those in operation or those in development, are also meeting these needs, in full or part? What opportunities exist to work with or alongside these initiatives?
  • What would the systemic or structural enablers and impediments be to such an initiative?

Strengths and gaps

  • What existing elements developed by the three initiatives (e.g. approaches, tools, resources, expertise) are likely to be most valuable to these types of universities and to individual academics?
  • What needs do the existing initiatives not currently meet, and what gaps need to be addressed in a collective initiative?
  • Where is there duplication or overlap in the approaches, tools, resources and expertise of the existing initiatives, and how might these be consolidated?

Pathways for universities and academic staff 

  • What are the specific needs and interests of universities and their staff? Is it possible to characterise different “types” of university, and different “profiles” of academic staff who would find it valuable?
  • What “pathways” could be created, for universities (at institutional or sub-unit level) and for individual academics, to enable them to benefit from the approaches, tools, resources and expertise that such an initiative could offer?

What additional resources or content would need to be created, if any, to connect or bridge those already created by the three partnerships?

Management and implementation

  • What possible structures could be created to deliver such an initiative, and to ensure it is firmly rooted in the African higher education system?
  • What roles should or could partners in the existing three initiatives play, and which other partners or stakeholders would need to be involved in its governance, management or implementation?
  • In which areas would further capacity need to be secured or developed over the life of the project, in order to provide the necessary expertise (to implement the initiative, provide support)?

Proposed approach

An indicative approach is identified below, but the consultant or consultants should feel free to suggest modifications to this, in order to better answer the questions above.

  1. A high-level landscape review to identify other initiatives which seek to address these needs, either those already being implemented, or those in the planning phases. Including initiatives delivered by regional governments, agencies and development banks, private foundations, agencies such as the British Council, or bilateral funders.
  2. Consultation with a selected group of African HE leaders and senior faculty, and of relevant national or regional HE agencies to assess demand and validate the initiative. This could be done in two phases, the first in parallel to the landscape review, and the second to gather feedback on emerging ideas.
  3. A detailed assessment of the existing approaches, tools, resources and expertise developed by the three existing initiatives to identify strengths, gaps and opportunities for consolidation.
  4. Development of one or more possible delivery models, including preliminary indicative costings and an assessment of options for scale and reach (e.g. numbers of universities and/or academic staff it would be possible to support).

Expected deliverables

A final report to include:

  • A brief summary of the overall findings
  • A high-level landscape review of relevant initiatives currently being implemented or in development
  • A summary of consultations with stakeholders and what they indicate of demand and needs
  • An outline of a series of pathways or offers for participating universities and academic staff
  • A proposal for a governance and management structure for the initiative

The work is anticipated to begin by mid-October and a final report must be completed and submitted by 24th December 2021.

Anticipated budget

Up to £35,000 is available to cover the costs of the study, inclusive of VAT or other taxes, and depending on the plan of work proposed.

To apply

Please send the following to by 11:59 pm (UTC)  on 1st October 2021.

  • a Curriculum Vitae (if individual), company profile (if organization) indicating your previous experience in relation to this assignment
  • A short proposal (3 pages maximum) explaining your approach to the assignment and any qualifications to the terms of reference
  • A quote to deliver the assignment, specifying your daily rate, and any direct costs you expect to incur.
  • A sample report from a previous assignment

Evaluation criteria

Proposals and quotes will be evaluated according to:

  • Demonstrable understanding of and experience in the sector
  • Value for money
  • Ability to deliver the completed assignment within the timeframe