28 June 2017 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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Commentary
SOUTH AFRICA
Higher education challenges of racism and access
Although admissions figures for black students and numbers of black staff have improved in the post-apartheid era, many black people still feel excluded within the university system and there are problems with a lack of available places to meet the demand for higher education.
SOUTH AFRICA
Viewing post-school education from a youth perspective
In January 2012 South Africa was shocked to hear of the death of a mother at the gates of the University of Johannesburg. Gloria Sekwena had returned from her job in the United Kingdom to make sure that her school-leaving son, Kgotsisile, would find a place at the university.
ZIMBABWE
University gender affirmative action – Time for a change
Despite the fact that women outnumber men at the University of Zimbabwe, there are few female engineering students. It may be time to rethink the institution’s gender affirmative action policy.
SOUTH SUDAN
Universities offer lessons in survival strategies
South Sudan's higher education system is one of the most poorly funded government sectors and faces a myriad challenges including infrastructural inadequacy and staff shortages. Nonetheless it is employing coping strategies which offer invaluable lessons for comparable higher education systems in (post-)conflict contexts.
SOUTH AFRICA
Unmasking the doctorate
The significance of the doctorate has been both overemphasised and underemphasised in dominant conceptualisations, with implications for how we understand the purpose and value of this important qualification.
AFRICA
Facing up to the challenge of scholarship in Africa
Decolonising the mind – and the university – requires African scholars not to reject Western thinkers like Kant and Hegel but to go beyond them and push the frontiers of knowledge further.
AFRICA
Intellectual sovereignty – Shifting the centre of gravity
African academic endeavours must accept the fact that the centre of gravity of knowledge production about Africa and Africans must be situated in Africa, so that the ‘otherness’ of the subject of scholarship which Western hegemony has imposed on Africa and Africans is eliminated.

SOUTH AFRICA
Preparing school leavers for what lies beyond
A non-governmental organisation is helping to boost the eligibility of matriculants for university entrance and other further education and training opportunities.
KENYA
Universities, adrift for years, must now get a grip
Properly and thoroughly implementing the recommendations arising out of the recent universities audit by the Commission for University Education presents an opportunity to restore the reputation of the country's university system.
SOUTH AFRICA
The humanities – Looking the past in the eye
Explaining the past and understanding an increasingly uncertain future in South African universities requires that the ideological underpinnings of every intellectual past in the humanities be unravelled.
ZIMBABWE
Student interests suffer as unions pursue party agendas
Student unionism in Zimbabwe has become synonymous with party politics, compromising the unions’ ability to represent students and causing a great number of tertiary students who want nothing to do with party politics to actually shun national unions.
AFRICA
No easy way out of the higher education ‘trilemma’
Governments face a ‘trilemma’ in higher education policy as they can always only reach two out of three politically desirable goals – low public costs, low private costs (tuition fees), and mass access.

AFRICA
World-class or flagship – Which way for universities?
In their pursuit of competitiveness, higher education institutions across Africa set themselves the target of becoming ‘world class’, and labels such as a ‘world-class African university’ are not uncommon in their mission statements.

AFRICA
Climate change curriculum – One step closer to harmonisation
While the potential of regional cooperation to develop and strengthen Africa’s higher education sector has long been recognised on paper, progress towards its actualisation has been slow. Against this backdrop, the introduction next year of a Southern Africa masters curriculum in climate change and development represents an important test case for future academic harmonisation.
SOUTH AFRICA
Are protesting university students burning memory?
Since the bonfire of artworks at the University of Cape Town earlier this year, fire as a weapon of protest has spread throughout South Africa’s higher education system, and rekindled beyond. But when the portraits of the ‘colonials’ have been burnt, the timeless questions remain.
AFRICA
Transforming universities – Knowledge, then curriculum
If you want to learn about Africa, there’s no need to go to Algeria, Mali, Zambia or anywhere else on the continent. Instead, you’ll need to visit – at great cost – institutions in the global North like Johns Hopkins University or the School of Oriental and African Studies. Places like these host a wealth of African knowledge databases.
KENYA
University branch campuses in Kenya to close
On 19 January 2016, in an unprecedented demonstration of clout, the Kenya Commission for University Education ordered Kisii University, a state institution, to close 10 of its 13 branch campuses, and relocate the 15,000 students affected to the main campus. This move brings to 20 the number of campuses ordered closed by the authorities.
GLOBAL
It’s crucial to locate the ‘African’ in African Studies
Nigerian scholar Oyekan Owomoyela suggested that “getting ‘Africa’ back into African Studies is to get African Studies back to Africa”. This can be achieved, among other ways, by creating a canon of scholarly literature by Africans, more citations of African scholars, and more African scholars influencing the research agendas of top-rated African Studies journals.
NIGERIA
Challenges confronting universities – Now and in future
Oladapo Afolabi, professor of applied chemistry and former head of service for the Nigerian government, presented a futuristic and thought-provoking paper on transforming universities for this century and beyond, at the Annual Conference of the Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities held from 29 May to 2 June at the University of Jos.
SOUTH AFRICA
Student funding must be opened to public scrutiny
South Africa’s government is planning a major overhaul of its student funding system. This comes in the wake of protests at universities that saw students successfully freeze fee hikes for the 2016 academic year. But there are hurdles to equitable student funding that can only be overcome if the student loans system is subject to public scrutiny.
AFRICA
How an Africa-wide science funding gap can be closed
The idea that Africa’s future depends critically on science, technology and innovation is embodied in the African Union’s Agenda 2063. The continent starts at a disadvantage but there are grounds for optimism. Progress will cost billions – but the money is there and the challenge is to invest it in science innovation and technology for development.
AFRICA
Challenges to doctoral education in Africa
As the knowledge economy in Africa grows, so too will the need for more PhD graduates. New methods of teaching and research will be required along with supportive policies, regular assessments to ensure PhD outcomes match skills needs and greater support for research universities.
RWANDA
Rwanda takes long view to invest in African science
The Next Einstein Forum Global Gathering 2016 that took place in Senegal last month brought together African and global leaders from science, industry, civil society and government. The aim was to create “a unified African scientific identity integrated into the global scientific community and to inspire talented young people to pursue science”.
AFRICA
Huge gap between academics’ real and scholarly selves
African scholarship on Africa is operating at only a fraction of its true potential. It is hampered by the preferences, policies and politics of the Western academy. There are three reasons for this assertion – the poor state of knowledge about African economics and politics; the structure of academic rewards and careers; and ‘Occidentalism’ in theory and policy.
AFRICA
Harmonising African research grant administration
A nascent initiative to create an African grant management standard could help institutions improve administration practices, making them more attractive to donors in turn. But the initiative will only fulfil this promise if African researchers engage with its design to make sure it addresses their problems.