Evaluating doctoral programmes in Africa: Context and practices

Michael Cross, Judy Backhouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Models of doctoral education in Africa remained similar to those in European universities, well into the 2000s. However, there has been an increasing realisation that such programmes are ill-suited for the African realities. With recent efforts to revitalise higher education in Africa, considerable attention has been placed on the need to explore more effective models of doctoral education, better suited to the African context. Doctoral education is key to this rebuilding as it offers the potential for developing skilled staff for academic and research institutions, and is central to the development of much-needed locally relevant knowledge in Africa. In the last decade, innovative programmes have emerged that make use of partnerships to achieve more than individual institutions could, working alone. This paper examines the constraints, challenges and opportunities in African doctoral education and identifies critical elements of doctoral education that have particular nuances in the African context. We propose a framework for evaluating the suitability of the structure and practices of such programmes. We review two of the more successful collaborative Ph.D. programmes with reference to this framework.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-174
Number of pages20
JournalHigher Education Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


  • African higher education
  • Ph.D. programmes
  • collaborative programmes
  • doctoral education
  • graduate education
  • supervision models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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