Over the years, the project has ensured that it reflects on both the practical and process related aspects of the project. Evaluation and practical workshops have been held, and both internal and external evaluations conducted. Please find details of these below.
Internal Evaluation Workshop 1998
By the end of 1998 the USHEPiA Programme had been operational for 4 years, by this time 33 Fellowships were awarded, and funding of $1 660 287 had gone into the Programme. An evaluation of USHEPiA was envisaged since its inception in order to assess its operational strategies and effectiveness in achieving its goals, and to give direction for future development.
The Evaluation Workshop was attended by 24 representatives from the eight USHEPiA partner universities, and additional Fellows and supervisors. The Workshop lasted over 2 days, and was tightly structured to cover:
- The academic process and practical implementation of the Fellowships
- The sustainability of the USHEPiA ideals once the grants have come to an end
- Assessment and enhancement of spin-offs associated with the grants
- Future direction
- Future funding options
The discussions were characterised by a frankness that led to many constructive suggestions, and a statement of support for the continuation and development of USHEPiA was signed by all representatives at the end of the meeting.
There was an overall acceptance that USHEPiA had become a model for academic capacity development in Africa, and that the south-south networking it was establishing had come at a very opportune time for both UCT (as it moved towards its vision of being a “World-class African University”) and the other partner universities as north-south resources were shrinking. The fact that the Programme was needs driven by the partner universities and its flexibility were seen to be important factors in this success.
Key issues that arose in the discussion included the tension between longer-term institutional capacity development and shorter-term personal development; the need to improve communication at all levels, how to empower the home supervisors; and a perceived lack of support from some of the home universities. The role of home universities was emphasised in discussing sustainability. It was recognised that USHEPiA should form an integral part of the partner universities’ broader research strategies.
The existing Programme structure was endorsed, and the partner universities strongly supported the hands-on management provided by the USHEPiA Office. It was agreed that the number of partner universities should not be increased during the First Phase. Being needs driven, USHEPiA should continue to cover disciplines identified by the partner universities (science, engineering and humanities); however broadening to include medicine and agriculture would be valuable should funding be obtained. In general, there was an emphasis on deepening the linkages within USHEPiA during this First Phase, rather than diluting them by attempting to spread to other universities or disciplines.
Partner universities indicated that they saw USHEPiA as a long-term programme. The need to start to work towards establishing a Second Phase was endorsed. During this phase, sustainability would become increasingly important. Participating universities felt that there was no limit to the growth of intellectual capital needed in Africa. Specifically, the independent evaluator pointed out in her report that: “[USHEPiA] is much too good a programme to be confined to only a few universities”.
During its First Phase, various foundations are funding USHEPiA. The Workshop strongly supported the idea of obtaining endowment funding to enable USHEPiA to move into a second phase in 2001/2.
Benchmarking and Best Practice for Supervisors
In 2005, USHEPiA held a workshop on benchmarking and best practice for Supervisors. A comprehensive set of recommendations emerged from the workshop, which are detailed in the document below. Please click on the title of the report to download it (PDF format):
USHEPiA 15-Year Evaluation
The USHEPiA Report below is a response to the need to document USHEPiA’s history and achievements between 1997 and 2007 (a 15 year period) The first part provides comprehensive information about the Programme and its achievements in this time. The second part summarises the proceedings of the 2007 USHEPiA Strategy Conference which examined the future of the project. The final part of the Report summarizes conversations with key USHEPiA leaders reflecting on the future of the project after 2007. The Report concludes with warm thanks to USHEPiA donors and the many people who have contributed to the success of the Programme.
Please click on the title of the report to download (PDF format):