30 November 2015 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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Africa Features
Under-funded and ‘ethnic’ expansion threatens HE quality
Attempts to revitalise African higher education are being eroded because of under-funding, competing forces that try to influence who goes to university and what they should be taught, and the rise of ethnically-based institutions, according to experts.
Higher education quality, harmonisation drives entwined
As the Association of African Universities lamented lack of quality assurance at many of the more than 1,000 universities spread across the continent, the Economic Community of West African States – the powerful regional political grouping known as ECOWAS – was preparing to develop regional criteria for harmonising pre-university qualifications.
Major discovery of new human species
Revelations by a global team of researchers that a previously unknown but ancient relative of humankind had been discovered in a South African cave have generated media coverage around the world. That is not just because a new species has been added to the Homo family, but also because of the record number of fossilised bones – 1,550 – found in the cave.
Investigation, data needed to develop online learning
Further investigation and more data are needed to develop the knowledge, management and skills needed to drive effective online learning practices at universities in Southern Africa, a meeting of higher education leaders heard last week.
Education, science on the development goals agenda
The battle for funds earmarked for reducing global poverty by 2030 is expected to take centre stage during the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 in New York next month. Africans will push hard for robust support for education and science, technology and innovation.
Private sector steps in with IT training for growth
The private sector is stepping in to provide higher education in information technology in Morocco, as the government struggles to match demand from the North African country’s growing economy with an output of highly skilled graduates.
Rapid higher education expansion in development drive
Tanzania has made progress in expanding access to higher education in order to gear young people towards a middle-income economy by 2025, according to a World Bank report. It provides a snapshot of how the East African country is catching up with tertiary education growth trends in neighbouring states such as Kenya and Uganda.
Universities must reverse a decline in entrepreneurship
South Africa needed 14% of gross domestic product generated by entrepreneurs to achieve the economic growth rates essential for sustainability and development – and entrepreneurship was a skill universities could be training students – the 17th annual African Renaissance conference heard in Durban recently.
Employer poll reveals preferred university graduates
Graduates of the public University of Nairobi and the private Strathmore University are by far the most preferred by employers in Kenya, according to a poll by the Nairobi recruitment firm Corporate Staffing Services. The findings reveal long-held biases among employers and are likely to spark rivalry among universities, as the battle for the best students hots up.
Young university’s rapid growth despite austerity
In three years the State University of Zanzibar has doubled its student intake, albeit from a low base – from 1,224 in 2011 to 2,489 in 2014. In so doing it has bust the myth that the small island of 1.3 million off the coast of Tanzania cannot support more than one university.
Open University of Tanzania spreads wings abroad
The Open University of Tanzania is reaching out to higher education institutions in neighbouring countries to establish collaborations that will encourage more international students to enrol for distance learning.
‘Major overhaul’ of higher education ideology needed
After two decades of teaching at the college of veterinary medicine, animal resources and biosafety at Makerere University in Uganda, Professor John David Kabasa has heard enough of the same request. After graduating, many of his students beg him for tips on job opportunities – not only in their field of study; they could do ‘anything’.
Developing sustainable African HE financing policies
In an effort to improve access and encourage needy students to enrol in higher education while at the same time containing government spending, the cost-sharing model has been introduced worldwide – including in East Africa – along with student scholarships and loans.
Higher education quality targeted in new German plan
The new academic collaboration strategy of the German Academic Exchange Service, or DAAD, aims to train more students to become university lecturers, build university capacity, and strengthen research and graduate training. Launched in Germany on 25 June, the strategy will run from 2015 to 2020.
USAID's transformative strategy for higher education
USAID recently launched a strategic framework for building the capacity of African higher education institutions and systems. Research has indicated that the social and private rates of return for tertiary investments in Sub-Saharan Africa are among the highest in the world.
Academics built university out of the ashes of war
The civil war that devastated Somalia also closed down Somali National University in the capital Mogadishu. But thanks to the determination of a group of academics a new institution arose out of the ashes, the private, non-profit Mogadishu University. From an initial student intake of 225 in 1997, the university has grown to 6,000 students.
Universities must share blame for skills crisis
A World Bank assessment of Sub-Saharan Africa's high-level skills has revealed critical shortages in both numbers and quality - and African universities must share the blame for not meeting the workforce needs of the continent.
University makes its mark through quality assurance
The University of Professional Studies, Accra, is determined to make its mark on the international scene through quality assurance, says Vice-chancellor Joshua Alabi. "We were the only African university to subject ourselves to two major programmes - the African Quality Rating Mechanism and Europe's Institutional Evaluation Programme."
First private university eyes foreign student growth
Botswana’s first private university, the Malaysian-owned Limkokwing University of Creative Technology – Limkokwing Botswana – has continued to flex its muscles in this diamond-rich Southern Africa nation, taking advantage of a fast growing tertiary education sector.
New universities struggle to accommodate students
The room has only three simple beds and a roughly hewn coffee table with an overflowing ashtray, some A4 notebooks and a lot of dust. It is one of 16 student rooms built in a block on a minute piece of land surrounded by a barbed wire fence at Chuka University, until a year ago a former constituent college of Kenya’s Egerton University.
Call for strong links between universities, companies
Should governments in East Africa create laws compelling the private sector to offer internships to students, to enable them to gain practical experience in their fields of study – or should a more cooperative approach guide relations between universities and industry?
Twelfth campus takes university closer to more people
Namibia’s President Hifikipunye Pohamba officiated at a groundbreaking ceremony for a long-awaited campus of the University of Namibia in Keetmanshoop. The new campus, 500 kilometres south of the capital Windhoek, will be the 12th set up under an ambitious initiative to take higher education closer to the people and achieve more equitable access.
Landmark historical society meeting held in Botswana
At the height of winter in Southern Africa, a major historical society meeting was held in Botswana following the theme “All for One, One for All? Leveraging national interests with regional visions in Southern Africa”. It was the first time in 48 years that the Southern African Historical Society had met outside South Africa.
Demand drives growth of open learning in East Africa
The increasing demand for access to higher education in East African countries has opened opportunities for universities to develop robust distance education programmes, according to University of Nairobi Vice-chancellor Professor George Magoha.
India back in East Africa to recruit students
After losing out to local universities in the battle to attract East African students, India’s robust higher education sector is back in the region and determined to reclaim its place as a leading destination for African students.