After co-hosting the 10th Donor Harmonisation Group Forum in London in partnership with the Association of Commonwealth Universities and British Council, the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission was pleased to attend the 11th Donor Harmonisation Group Forum in Basel, hosted by the University of Basel from 10-12 November 2021 in collaboration with the organising committee from Nuffic (the Dutch organisation for Internationalisation in education) and Diku (the Norwegian Agency for International Cooperation and Quality Enhancement in Higher Education).
The Commonwealth Scholarship Commission was represented by Annabel Boud (Head of Commonwealth Scholarships), Brendan Harrison (Senior Evaluation Officer), and Susan Marango (Research Officer), and were accompanied by our colleague Olivia Petie (Senior Evaluation Officer) from the Chevening Secretariat. Collectively we also represented the Association of Commonwealth Universities at the event. Despite the success of the virtual Forum in 2020, we welcomed the opportunity to meet with our colleagues in person for three days of both informal conversations, and formal presentations and discussions.
The theme of the conference was ‘Cooperation for the Next Generation – from education to employment’ and featured several discussions on how to enable the transition from higher education into the workforce, with a particular focus on this issue in Africa. Anna Ekeledo, the Executive Director of AfriLabs, emphasised in her keynote address the need for greater investment in youth employment in Africa to drive development and the value of promoting innovation and entrepreneurship within this context, something that AfriLabs does through their 300 innovation centres across 50 African countries.
The keynote was then followed by a panel discussion on the role of public-private partnerships which was facilitated by Pauline Koelbl, the founder of AfriProspect and ShEquity, organisations focused on investing in female-led businesses in Africa. The panel further explored points raised in the keynote, particularly the need to incorporate innovation and entrepreneurship in university curriculums, and the value of linking academic research efforts to real-world problems and outcomes.
The second day featured the annual World Café sessions where attending organisations present on some of their recent work and included a presentation by Susan Marango on the CSC Evaluation Team’s work investigating the Enabling Factors and Barriers to development impact that Commonwealth Alumni encounter in their workplaces and communities after their Scholarship. Susan’s presentation was well-received by colleagues and helped to explore the role that contextual factors can play in the transition from education to employment.
The CSC would like to express thanks to the University of Basel and the organising committee for organising this year’s Forum and providing the opportunity to reconnect with our colleagues in the sector and share our work with them.