Launched in 2011, with funding support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY), the HELP program sought to support research networks, policy forums and publications to document and provide an understanding of transformations underway with regard to the governance and leadership of higher education institutions in Africa. In initiating the program, CODESRIA was motivated by the desire to contribute to the knowledge base and initiate policy debates that would deepen the reforms, as leadership and governance are central to ensuring the quality and relevance of higher education in the continent. Twelve Research groups (NWGs, CRNs and Post-doctoral fellowships) and six books by former university leaders were commissioned. A methodological workshop preceded the commissioning of the research groups, while each network held a mid-term workshop, and a last workshop that brought together all the research groups and higher education administrators and policy makers was held in Arusha, Tanzania from November 17th-21st 2015. In terms of engaging middle level academic administrators, two deans’ conferences were held. The proceedings from one of the conference have been published as journal articles in the Journal of Higher Education in Africa and they are available online. The work of the research groups revolved around the following themes;
• Evolution of governance models and implications to academic mission of the Universities-broad oversight governance practices including new funding models, and division of authority to nominate representatives to the governance bodies
• Emergent practices in the working of governance bodies-councils, senates and faculty boards
• Gender aspects of governance transformations
• Processes of constituting leadership and implications to the day-to-day management of the institutions as academic institutions-how are Vice chancellors and senior administrative (management) staff- modalities of appointment and implications on institutional autonomy and academic missions.
• Role of Faculty/ academics and how they are engaged in the leadership and academic processes of the institutions; including faculty unions
• Student governance (What frameworks exist to govern students’ academic and welfare conduct) and student involvement: participation in governance-how this is changing and in what direction and the implications to the evolution of the institutions as academic institutions.
• New leadership models and emergent practices in issues quality assurance
The results from the initiative are being published and disseminated in form of books and Journal papers. A final dissemination workshop and a scientific report of the initiative are planned within the context of CODESRIA’s 2017-2021 Strategic plan on ‘Reaching New frontiers in Social Science Research and Knowledge production for African Transformation and Development’. The final dissemination workshop will also be used to launch a new follow-up initiative to HELP, the Higher Education in Africa policy Initiative (HEPI) also supported with a generous funding Grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York