This article sets out the role of the Higher Education Relevance and Quality Agency (HERQA). In recognition of the importance of education in ensuring Ethiopia's poverty reduction program and sustainable development, the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is in the process of implementing a higher education and capacity building program aimed at reforming and expanding the country's higher education sector. Critical to meeting the objectives of this reform program is the establishment of an effective national quality and relevance assurance organization to ensure relevance and quality standards in a massified system.

To this end the Higher Education Relevance and Quality Agency (HERQA) has been established through the Higher Education Proclamation (351/2003) as one of the key agencies responsible for guiding and regulating the sector along with the Higher Education Strategy Center(HESC) and the National Pedagogic Resource Center (NPRC). HERQA has been established to help ensure a high quality and relevant higher education system in the country. One of the central roles of HERQA is to encourage and assist the growth of an organizational culture in Ethiopian higher education that values quality and is committed to continuous improvement.

HERQA's mission has been formulated on the basis of the relevant articles in the Proclamation.

HERQA’s mission is to ensure a high quality and relevant higher education system in Ethiopia. To this end it will assure stakeholders that accredited Higher Education Institutions are of an appropriate standard and that the programs of study offered by these HEIs are of an appropriate quality and relevance to the world of work and the development needs of the country.

HERQA’s vision is:

to be a nationally and internationally recognized center of excellence in the safeguarding, accreditation and enhancement of standards and quality in higher education.

HERQA's operational objectives have been derived from its mission statement. These are:

  • Assessing the relevance and quality of higher education offered by higher education institutions
  • Ensuring that the higher education curriculum supports the country’s development needs
  • Providing an efficient and transparent accreditation system
  • Disseminating information regarding standards and programs offered by both Ethiopian and foreign HEIs

Powers and duties of the Higher Education Relevance and Quality Agency as defined by the Higher Education Proclamation (351/2003) Part Five Section One include:

  • Ensuring that higher education and training offered at any institution are up to standard, relevance and have quality

  • Ensuring that higher education and training offered at any institution are in line with economic, social and other appropriate policies of the country

  • Evaluating the institutions at least once every five years with a view to ensuring whether such institutions are up to standard and competent, and submit its findings to the Ministry

  • Supervising the standards and competence of the institution; and consult Ministry in respect of merger or division of an institution

  • Issuing directives which determine the powers and duties of accreditation permit evaluation committees

  • Examining the applications submitted to the Ministry for pre-accreditation, accreditation and renewal of accreditation permits ?and submiting its recommendations to the Ministry within three months

  • Requesting where necessary, information and opinions from appropriate organs to examine pre-accreditation applications

  • Preparing and submitting to the Minister requirements and directives that enable to determine the status of an institution

  • Evaluate activity or performance report of an institution with pre-accreditation permit; and giver order to the institution upon examining and finding that such institution has satisfied the requirements stipulated by law?.and submit its recommendation to the Ministry

  • Give information to the public about the current situation and status of the institutions periodically

  • Gather and disseminate information about the standards and programmes of study offered by foreign higher education institutions as well as about their general status

  • Submit evaluation report of the service fees of institutions to the Ministry and submit draft policy proposals to the ministry in respect of fees charged and the execution by the private institutions

HERQA is functionaling as a properly constituted organisation. It will seek to provide the Government with information on the quality and relevance of higher education, both public and private, in Ethiopia as well as provide a pre-accreditation and accreditation service. HERQA is also, in accordance with the Higher Education Proclamation (351/2003), autonomous from Government, a legal entity in its own right, and is accountable to the Ministry of Eudcation. HERQA has recruited both experts and support staff and is based in offices around Shero Meda in front of the American Embassy, Addis Ababa.