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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.
Interviews
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
KENYA
Multi-million-dollar hostels for five universities
Gilbert Nganga
Kenya has kicked off a multi-million-dollar push to develop student hostels in five public universities by tapping into private funds, with the ultimate goal being to drive up enrolments. The project is expected to provide more than 50,000 new student beds.
HONG KONG
Students form new parties, push for self-determination
Yojana Sharma
Student groups that led Hong Kong’s 2014 pro-democracy protests – also known as the Umbrella movement – have set up their own political parties in Hong Kong to continue to press their demands using political means after they failed to wrest concessions from the Hong Kong government during huge street protests.
GLOBAL
Reality check for open, distance learning institutions
Nicola Jenvey
The open and distance learning vision of accessible, low-cost, high-quality provision has never been more relevant, but open and distance learning succeeds in accessibility and convenience much more than in experience and outcomes. These institutions also have yet to make a convincing case for the pedagogical merits of scale, according to a new report.
GLOBAL
High MOOC completion rates in developing countries
Developing world learners use massive open online courses, or MOOCs, very differently than their developed world counterparts, according to a new study. These MOOC users achieved remarkably high certification and course completion rates – with almost four out of five MOOC users completing at least one course.
UGANDA
New universities and 20 technical colleges on the cards
Esther Nakkazi
Uganda’s government has halted the trend of upgrading tertiary colleges into universities. Instead it will create new universities from scratch and is also planning to set up 20 new technical colleges to expand vocational education and training.
GHANA
President promises first private medical school support
Francis Kokutse
More than half a century after the first public medical school launched in Ghana, President John Mahama has opened the first private medical school. He said the Family Health Medical School would boost the admission of qualified students and ease a national doctor shortage.
CONGO
Construction of second public university kicks off
Munyaradzi Makoni
The Republic of the Congo, also called Congo-Brazzaville, has set aside more than FCFA242 billion (US$416 million) for the construction of a new university to be named after the country’s current president, Denis Sassou N'Guesso, who has ruled for a quarter of a century.
MADAGASCAR
Students protest against illegal buildings on campus
Jane Marshall
Demonstrations by students at the University of Antananarivo in Madagascar – against illegal buildings on campus – have turned violent, with tyres set alight and stones thrown at police who responded with teargas. Meanwhile, there are problems of long-term maladministration of student accommodation, half of which is occupied by non-students.
Africa Features
SOUTH AFRICA
Research – Creative responses in a hostile environment
Stephen Coan
“When the students are at the gate, it’s too late for polite discussion. We need a realistic acknowledgement of what we confront,” said Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor at a recent Research and Innovation Dialogue. Challenges to research were laid bare and hard decisions made – including the need for universities to specialise.
SOUTH AFRICA
Learning lessons abroad on funding research, innovation
Stephen Coan
“In South Africa universities contribute 2.1% of gross domestic product – more than textiles and forestry – and they employ 300,000 people which puts them on a par with the mining industry.” Such comparisons could change perceptions of the sector as it strives to boost international competitiveness in research and innovation, says Professor Anastassios Pouris.
AFRICA
Universities need new funding models and African donors
Wachira Kigotho
Faced with donor fatigue and declining public funding, universities across Sub-Saharan Africa should search for new models of financing specific initiatives such as hubs for research and innovation. One proposal from higher education experts gathered in Nairobi recently was to tap Africa’s growing number of billionaires.
Africa Briefs
AFRICA
Researchers call for more open access to knowledge
Researchers from across the continent and beyond have called for governments and universities to introduce policies to guarantee open access to scientific knowledge in Africa.
ANGOLA
Government initiative to increase number of lecturers
Higher Education Minister Adão do Nascimento has announced the introduction of a training and retraining initiative to increase the number of higher education lecturers in Angola. He also said his ministry would continue to control university fees, to avoid increased charges.
AFRICA
PhD fellowships for Sub-Saharan Africa women scientists
Maina Waruru
The Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World is offering postgraduate training fellowships for women scientists from Sub-Saharan Africa and least developed countries, to pursue postgraduate research in the natural sciences.

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