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Thoughts and experiences of African university leaders
____This special Africa edition, “Thoughts and experiences of African university leaders”, is aimed at promoting good leadership in universities in Africa and elsewhere. It will comprise a series of interviews with vice-chancellors and others with deep knowledge of higher education in a variety of Sub-Saharan African countries. The articles will be published monthly from February 2012 to April 2013.
____There will also be responses from other leaders and scholars published in the parallel ‘debate’ column, to encourage discussion around university leadership and to expand the number and diversity of contributors. The special edition page will grow as new interviews and responses are added to it, and once completed it will remain a permanent page on the University World News website.
____It has been argued that one way to learn about leadership is to receive advice from successful leaders based on their experiences and wisdom, especially if they work in the same field. This is the rationale for the series and for an interview approach that captures the personalities and backgrounds and leadership styles of strong leaders, the challenges they have faced and the actions they taken to make their institutions and higher education systems more effective.
____The series has been made possible by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, whose strategic approach to supporting higher education in Africa includes university leadership development and strengthening the next generation of academics.
Karen McGregorGlobal Editor
Current Interview
Leading Ibadan, Africa’s prolific PhD producer
Isaac Folorunso Adewole
University of Ibadan
Tunde Fatunde
The University of Ibadan is Nigeria’s premier institution, producing 3,000 postgraduates a year. Vice-chancellor Isaac Folorunso Adewole told University World News he had moved from being a “strategic” to a consensual leader.
Top-ranked university goes 'Afropolitan'
Max Price
University of Cape Town
Karen MacGregor
Professor Max Price has led Africa's top-ranked university for four years. The University of Cape Town's vision is to be 'Afropolitan' and it is also highly international, with nearly 20% of students and 25% of academics from outside South Africa. Price told University World News what the institution is doing right.
Mahmood Mamdani – An intellectual leader in Africa
Josh Kron
The role of senior academics in leading higher education is more difficult to define than that of vice-chancellors. But some are arguably so prominent that they inspire change – and such is the case with Mahmood Mamdani, renowned commentator on African history, politics and society.
Women’s university v-c plans to expand across Africa
Hope Sadza
Women's University in Africa
Kudzai Mashininga
Founding a successful private women’s university within a patriarchal society in a failed state is difficult, to say the least. But Hope Sadza’s ambition is bigger than that – to open campuses of the Zimbabwe-based Women’s University in Africa across the continent.
Steady hand on flagship university’s tiller of change
Ernest Aryeetey
University of Ghana
Karen MacGregor
With a career enriched by international experience, first as a student in Germany and then in academic networks, Ernest Aryeetey has steered the flagship University of Ghana steadily into the wider world since becoming vice-chancellor two years ago. This, and the pursuit of excellence through change, define his leadership.
How Kenyatta’s leader shattered the glass ceiling
Olive Mugenda
Kenyatta University
Gilbert Nganga
Olive Mugenda is vice-chancellor of Kenyatta University, Kenya’s second largest institution by student numbers. For years she knocked on the doors of management, quietly but very persistently. When they opened, she entered enthusiastically – and made a major impact. She spoke to University World News for the latest in our article series on African university leaders.
Transforming an apartheid relic
Jonathan Jansen
University of the Free State
Karen MacGregor
Four years ago a racist video filmed by white male students at the University of the Free State shocked the world. The first black vice-chancellor of this once-conservative Afrikaner bastion in South Africa’s heartland, Jonathan Jansen, has brought about remarkable change since taking office.
Oncologist brings dynamic change to university
Dr Charles Olweny
Uganda Martyrs University
Andrew Green
Dr Charles Olweny, a globe-trotting oncologist who trained and worked on four continents, decided seven years ago to leave Canada and return home to lead Uganda Martyrs University, a private Catholic institution. His leadership strategy is guided by five core principles, he said in the latest of a series on African university leaders.
Leadership a balancing act
Cheryl de la Rey
University of Pretoria
Karen MacGregor
Cheryl de la Rey, a professor of psychology, notched up several firsts when she became vice-chancellor of South Africa’s large University of Pretoria in 2009 – the first woman, the first black person and the first English-speaker. It seems the university was ripe for change, as she faced no opposition on any of these fronts. De la Rey spoke to University World News for this first in a new series of articles on African university leaders.
Managing a university on the rise – Nairobi
George Magoha
University of Nairobi
Gilbert Nganga
When it comes to publicity, Professor George Magoha is shy. The vice-chancellor of the University of Nairobi rarely grants an interview or calls a press conference to announce a strategic shift. He believes being too public a leader could be a blunder for Kenya’s premier university.
Africa News
Government stakeholder forum fails to end student unrest
Munyaradzi Makoni
A multi-stakeholder forum at which the piloting of a fee-free funding model for students from poor and working-class families was announced has failed to bring an end to ongoing student unrest across the country’s campuses.
Photo Credit: Alon Skuy
Report calls for emphasis on inequalities research
Wachira Kigotho
A scarcity of funds for research and lack of academic freedom in universities across Sub-Saharan Africa are key drivers to low academic scholarship, including inequalities research, according to a joint report by UNESCO, the International Social Science Council and the University of Sussex.
Outrage as lawmaker calls for university virginity tests
Ashraf Khaled
A call by a member of the Egyptian parliament to subject female university applicants to virginity tests has outraged academics and women’s advocates in this conservative Middle East country.
Ministry unveils new roadmap for university education
Wagdy Sawahel
Algeria has unveiled a new roadmap for higher education and research in efforts to build a knowledge-based economy by raising educational standards, improving the employability of graduates and revitalising research.
New initiative to promote continental quality assurance
Ard Jongsma
The African Union Commission and the European Union have launched a new joint initiative to promote the improvement and harmonisation of African higher education quality assurance and accreditation. The initiative, abbreviated as HAQAA, will be implemented by a consortium including all key continental organisations involved in quality assurance in Africa and Europe.
Campus unrest brews despite student rustications
Tunde Fatunde
Campus and national politics have combined to ignite a tense atmosphere at the federal University of Lagos – Nigeria’s nerve centre for radical students. Concerned about planned protests against government policies, the senate rusticated student leaders for various offences. Students have also been suspended at other universities.
Academic network launches new research training programme
Esther Nakkazi
A new five-year training and skills development programme aimed at building research capacity within the humanities, arts and social sciences across eight African universities was launched at Makerere University, Uganda, last month.
Grant scheme targets partners in bid to boost universities
Ochieng’ O Benny
A new competitive grant scheme established by the United Kingdom Department for International Development designed to catalyse innovative partnerships in low-income countries for the benefit of higher education will launch an open call for partnerships later this month.
Africa Features
Fresh crisis over ethnic appointments in universities
Gilbert Nganga
Kenya has been left smarting from a reputation nightmare after ethnicity reared its ugly head in one of the top universities, as educationists warn of a growing rot across institutions.
Africa Briefs
Student protests spread against abolition of grants
Student protests that have been taking place for several weeks against the abolition of grants have spread from the capital N’Djamena to the provinces.
New American Campus to offer ‘global’ higher education
An American Campus is to open in Ebčne, a ‘cybercity hub’ 15 kilometres south of the capital Port Louis, giving Mauritians the opportunity to follow American courses without having to move to the United States.

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