The Treaty for the Establishment of EAC clearly stipulate the commitment of the Partner States to harmonize their education and training systems in order to provide for, among others, concerted efforts in the development of human resources, and mobility of people, labour, and services. In that regard, the coming into force of the Protocol for the Establishment of the EAC Common Market in July 2010,requiredIUCEA to develop systems that, among others, would enhance students mobility and labour across the Partner States, and hence transform the EAC region into a common higher education area.
The IUCEA staff exchange programme for teaching has been modeled in a structure involving staff moving to another institution for a fixed period of time across institutions and Partner States.
The Staff Exchange Programme is a strategic intervention for enhancing sharing of human resource among universities in the EAC, geared to promoting regional integration.
The Programme aims at strengthening inter-university cooperation through academic mobility and enhancing quality of teaching and research as well as effective community services activities in universities in the East African Community.
It provides university institutions with experts and facilities in various fields of study that may be lacking or needing more collaboration with other universities, as well as availing opportunities to visiting lecturers to gain experience from the hosting institutions, and hence enhancing their career prospects and capacity of their mother institutions. A modest amount of money within IUCEA annual budget has normally been allocated for the staff exchange programme which has largely involved teaching functions, to serve as an out of station allowance.
For some time now, universities’ participation to the staff exchange programme has been low, despite the increase in the number of higher education institutions in the region. On the other hand, shortage of teaching staff especially for newly established universities has been observed.
IUCEA developed “Regulations governing engagement of staff in member universities of other Partner States” in 2011, to guide implementation of this programme as an interim measure. In order to address these gaps in a more comprehensive manner, in 2015, IUCEA has developed a policy framework on Academic Mobility which will include staff mobility to guide effective implementation of the programme within member university institutions in the EAC. See the Staff Mobility Policy, 2015:
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Students Mobility in East Africa was first facilitated in the form of an exchange programme between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda through the University of East Africa established in 1963 as a regional university for the three countries, each of which hosted a constituent college of the university, where students from any of the three countries could be enrolled. In 1970, the University of East Africa was dissolved after each of the three countries had established its own university: Makerere University in Uganda, University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, and University of Nairobi in Kenya. In order to promote collaboration and networking of the three universities including coordination of exchange of students and staff, the Inter-University Committee (IUC) was established under the auspices of the former EAC established in 1967.The collapse of the former EAC in 1977 interrupted the student exchange programme. However, the programme was resumed in 1981 after the establishment of IUCEA in 1980.
All the three countries of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda participated in the student exchange programme until 1986, when Kenya opted out after adopting a secondary school education system different from the one in the other two countries. Tanzania and Uganda continued with the student exchange programme, which involved their public universities through reciprocal financing of the students by each government without transfer of funds. Instead, the Government of the host country paid tuition fees, vacation supplements, examination fees, caution money, students’ union fees and other financial provisions payable to national students. IUCEA was only involved in planning and convening meetings to select students, while the governments managed the programme through the receiving universities.
In 2004 Tanzania introduced a higher education students’ loan scheme, which replaced the system of providing grants to students. This made it difficult to operationalize the student exchange programme, as the loan scheme could not be extended to students from other countries. Therefore, development the two Governments of Tanzania and Uganda decided to suspend the programme with effect from the academic year 2010/2011 until when appropriate arrangements to sustain the programme would be established.
When private universities started to operate in the EAC Partner States, students from all the Partner States and beyond moved freely to join these universities. On the other hand, public universities that had introduced private sponsorship schemes did similarly admit students from other Partner States but in many cases, charged them higher fees than nationals. These developments have had a significant bearing on students mobility in the region in terms of access and affordability as well as its contribution to the Common Market Protocol in terms of free movement of people and labour.
In 2015, IUCEA published a regional policy framework that will guide students’ mobility among higher education institutions, thereby facilitating EAC to operate as a common higher education area.