Reshaping higher education to meet student and employer needs - Assuring Quality Higher Education in Sierra Leone 

Sierra Leone’s higher education institutions face challenges shared by many other countries: limited financing and staff training opportunities and a lack of quality management systems. This has created a situation where university course content is misaligned with the needs of students and the job market. Employers find that graduates lack the skills and knowledge needed in the workplace.

The Assuring Quality Higher Education in Sierra Leone (AQHEd-SL) partnership brought together higher education institutions (HEls), the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) and employers across Sierra Leone to work towards improving graduate qualifications and employability. The focus of the project was to improve HEls’ capacity to offer quality education through outcome-based, student-centred learning that meets new quality standards.

The approach

  • Curriculum design and employer engagement

The project worked to improve the relevance of curriculum in four areas: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Health, Management, and Agriculture. Pedagogical development training complemented the curriculum design aspect of the project. Lecturers and members of university staff were trained in learner-centred teaching, critical thinking, and gender, diversity and inclusion.

  • Quality assurance

The project brought together Sierra Leone’s education experts to develop a National Qualification Framework which provided a clear outline for quality assurance assessment and guidance on revising policies, processes and systems to internal quality assurance units established within HEIs across the country. The project’s postgraduate diploma in quality assurance effectively trained quality assurance champions in each partner HEI. 


  • 8 degree programmes updated – including a total of 295 modules – in priority fields for Sierra Leone’s national development: agriculture, engineering, health and management
  • 37 quality assurance officers trained to work at universities and in the Tertiary Education Commission
  • 161 stakeholders from 90 organisations spanning public and private sector employers engaged in curriculum revision and wider support to universities
  • 540 university staff trained in learner-centred teaching, critical thinking, and gender, diversity and inclusion

The partners

The AQHEd-SL partnership was led by the University of Sierra Leone, working with partners from Sierra Leone – Njala University, the University of Makeni, Tertiary Education Commission, Sierra Leone Institution of Engineers, the 50/50 Group, Eastern Technical University, Milton Margai Technical University, Freetown Polytechnic, Fourah Bay College, College of Medicine & Allied Health Sciences, Ernest Bai Koroma University of Science and Technology – plus, King’s College London and INASP from the UK and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign from the US.

Find out more

AQHEd-SL summative evaluation: view the report.

See also