The Association of Commonwealth Universities

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Making the best use of Africa's graduates and the role of international partnerships

Alisa Hotel, Accra, Ghana:  16 - 18 January 2011

Welcome to this exciting new venture between the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the British Council.   We are jointly organising this conference because we believe that graduate employment is an under-developed issue within African higher education, and one which will become increasingly important as participation increases; and because we believe that national and international partnerships, such as those already established by the ACU and the British Council, can play an important role in enhancing the employability of Africa's graduates.

While universities in many countries have sophisticated processes in place to capture, survey and track their alumni  -  mainly for reporting and planning purposes but also, of course, because alumni can prove to be potent ambassadors (not to mention valuable generators of financial support) for their alma mater  -  our initial research suggests that relatively little work has been undertaken specifically at university level in Africa.   It would appear that mechanisms for supporting students in their attempts to prepare themselves for the labour market are sparse and that only a small number of universities has methods in place to survey what happens to their students after they graduate.

These issues are clearly of interest not only to the ACU and the British Council but also to the Association of African Universities, UNESCO and the International Labour Organisation  -  all of which have expressed their willingness either to endorse the conference or to sponsor delegates to attend it.

The conference will offer a platform for debate around the employability of Africa's graduates and how links between the higher education sector and business and industry can be developed to help monitor and enhance graduates' skills.   But, whilst we shall be focusing on higher education in Africa, we shall be drawing on and identifying good practice and exploring practical approaches that have worked not only in Africa but also all over the globe.

By starting this dialogue and making these links, we hope that the outcomes of the conference will be, on the one hand, increased commitment on the part of all stakeholders to work together to monitor and support graduate employment;  and on the other hand, greatly increased awareness of the role that higher education partnerships can play in supporting and enhancing graduate employability.   

We do hope you will wish to join us and contribute to the debates.