Higher Education Relevance and Quality Agency (HERQA) was established through the Higher Education Proclamation No. 350 in 2003. This proclamation was amended in 2009 through another higher education proclamation No. 650.
Since its inception, HERQA has developed into an agency presently consisting of a Director General, Deputy Director General and 22 professional expert staff, a section for Administration, Finances, and Properties, Human Resources along with a number of technical support staff. The first batch of HERQA’s professional staff were trained through the NUFFIC-funded HERQA-Assist Project with a strong emphasis on capacity building and human resource development, and with very valuable input through VSO of long term foreign experts who were attached to HERQA in order to support, train and cooperate with the HERQA expert staff, who were all new to the field of Quality Assurance in Ethiopia. In this respect HERQA had to build a QA tradition from scratch. Through the international support projects expertise from other countries could be brought to Ethiopia, and HERQA experts were sent to other countries to study QA Agencies in various educational contexts in Africa, Europe and Asia.
To date, HERQA has undertaken a wide range of activities, including: accreditation and re-accreditation of thousands of programs in private higher education institutions; and auditing more than 100 private and public higher education institutions, convening of consultative and training workshops with various stakeholders (public and private institution leaders, managers and academic staff and representatives from government organisations and professional organisations); development of draft benchmarks for a number of selected subjects; and the publication of procedures for external quality audits and accreditation processes.
Further, HERQA has been offering direct support through follow-up visits of the implementation of the quality audit report and conducting trainings for some selected academic staff and quality assurance officers at the HEIs and at the Agency’s. Equally importantly, a HERQA institutional quality audit will assess the appropriateness and effectiveness of a HEI’s systems of accountability and quality assurance and of its internal review mechanisms.
HERQA makes use of ten focus areas which are translated in to a number of reference points and expectations and standards.
1 Vision, Mission and Educational Goals
2 Governance and Management System
3 Infrastructure and Learning Resources
4 Academic and Support Staff
5 Student Admission and Support Services
6 Program Relevance and Curriculum
7 Teaching, Learning and Assessment
8 Student Progression and Graduate Outcomes
9 Research and Outreach Activities
10 Internal Quality Assurance
In general, the main purpose of HERQA, through its accreditation, reaccreditation, institutional and program level quality audit reports and the dissemination of good practice, is to help to enhance the provision of higher education in Ethiopia and the confidence of all stakeholders in the quality of that provision (HERQA, 2006).