At the end of October, a group of 40 US higher education professionals, representing 30 institutions, travelled to Khartoum to participate in the first Sudanese-American Collaboration Forum on Higher Education and Scientific Research.
After 20 years, the U.S. lifted economic sanctions on Sudan last year, citing improvement in several areas including counter terrorism and humanitarian access. Since that step toward normalizing relations, both the Sudanese Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MOHESR) and the U.S. Institute of International Education (IIE) have worked toward developing partnerships between U.S. and Sudanese universities.
The forum was primarily for university personnel because of the goal of solidifying relationships between institutions. However, since ECE, as part of our mission and in support of our non-profit status, shares information and demonstrates the importance of the role of credential evaluation in the admissions process, we were included in the group. I was asked to give a presentation on the U.S. educational system so that all participants have a better understanding of the philosophy and structure of our system. I will also serve as a resource to both sides going forward.
The forum took place from October 28 through November 1 and included lectures, panel discussion, university visits, dinners, and cultural tours and events. Some presentation topics were an overview of Sudanese education, the structure and philosophy of U.S. education, trends in academic partnerships, institutional development, and various potential research collaboration topics such as agriculture and food security, health and medicine, water and energy resources management, and humanities and archeology.
From the credential evaluation perspective, some of the more significant items were:
- the discussions surrounding the upcoming launch of a new accreditation process for both private and public institutions
- meetings with Sudanese university officials
- opportunities to stress the importance of credential evaluation and the role of the comparative education expert in student mobility
Highlights included a student fair where I got to explain what credential evaluation is to Sudanese university students, and a visit to the University of Khartoum, which was founded in 1902 as Gordon Memorial College. Seeing art projects completed by students at the Sudan University of Science and Technology, and the Stem Cell Center at Al-Neelain University were fascinating.
Several institutions signed MOUs during the trip, with others having preliminary discussions towards partnership agreements.
With the two countries on a path towards normalization, the number of Sudanese students in the US, US students in Sudan, and faculty and other exchanges will increase, and both countries will benefit from the ongoing cooperation.
A highlight of the week was a day-long trip to visit the pyramids at Meroë.
Student art fair.
Margaret Wenger is Senior Director of Evaluation. She has been with ECE since 1990. Margaret leads evaluation policy development, new evaluator training, and coordinates quality assurance efforts. Her countries of specialization include China, Francophone African countries, India, the Middle East and North Africa, and New Zealand. She is a member of the Standards Committee of The Association for International Credential Evaluation Professionals (TAICEP), and is the TAICEP representative on the Groningen Declaration Network Task Force on Verification Policies and Best Practices.