27 September 2016 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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SOMALIA
Proliferation of universities brings mixed fortunes
As guns continue to fall silent in Somalia’s waning civil conflict, exponential growth has been witnessed in the higher education sector. But there are mixed reviews of the quality of education offered by the country’s new independent universities.
SOUTH AFRICA
Data-intensive research capacity boosted ahead of SKA
A consortium of institutions in South Africa has been formed to establish a Western Cape Data Intensive Research Facility as part of the country’s National Integrated Cyberinfrastructure System. The aim is to dramatically increase data-intensive research capacity ahead of the global astronomy research initiative, the Square Kilometre Array or SKA.
GLOBAL
Meeting mulls future of ‘prestigious’ scholarship plan
A consultative meeting at the recent Association of Commonwealth Universities conference in Ghana gave university representatives from across the Commonwealth an opportunity to air their views on the present operation and visibility of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan, and offer ideas for its future development.
GHANA
New kinds of councils needed for evolving universities
About a decade ago, Clifford Tagoe was just weeks into his new position as vice-chancellor of the University of Ghana when he made a radical proposal. The university’s academic programming had deteriorated. Its governance was in disarray and there was institution-wide examination malpractice. Ghana’s oldest and most prestigious university was in a shambles.
GLOBAL
Countering growing global divisions in higher education
In a tumultuous time of deepening divisions and inequalities, in higher education and in societies globally, it is imperative for universities to advance ‘responsible internationalisation’ and collaboration aimed at creating a better world rather than just promoting self-interest, says Leonard Engel, executive director of the European Association for International Education.
AFRICA
MOOCs have a massive potential market in Africa
Nigerian Ambassador to UNESCO Mariam Y Katagum, a member of the governing board of the Commonwealth of Learning, answers questions on the opportunities and challenges facing the provision of MOOCs – massive open online courses – in Africa.
SOUTH AFRICA
Universities of technology eye rich prospects in waste
South African universities of technology are positioning themselves as critical partners in what is considered a fairly new but highly relevant area of research, innovation and job creation: waste recycling and management, an industry conservatively estimated by the government to be worth R25 billion (US$1.6 billion) per annum.
AFRICA
Iconic university celebrates 100 years amid challenges
Former South African president Nelson Mandela wrote in his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom that for young black South Africans like himself, the University of Fort Hare was “Oxford and Cambridge, Harvard and Yale, all rolled into one”.
NIGERIA
Vice-chancellors unite to strengthen higher education
There is growing collaboration between the vice-chancellors of 143 Nigerian federal, state and private universities, as well as with African and international associations, as leaders unite to develop and internationalise their institutions, says Professor Michael Faborode, secretary general of the Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities.
AFRICA
Africa needs ‘innovation universities’ to develop – Juma
Africa must create ‘innovation universities’ if it is to achieve economic transformation, sustainable development and inclusive growth, says Calestous Juma, professor of the practice of international development at Harvard’s John F Kennedy School of Government. Universities should combine research, teaching, outreach and commercialisation in a coordinated way.
SOUTH AFRICA
Rhodes student ‘rape’ protests end but debates continue
Student protests at Rhodes University, nestled in the small South African town of Grahamstown, ended with the resumption of lectures last Monday after a week of dramatic disruption and disturbances over a ‘rape culture’ at the institution – but the conversation is far from over.
AFRICA
Universities need new funding models and African donors
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.
SOUTH AFRICA
Research – Creative responses in a hostile environment
“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
“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
Ambitious plans for new African Leadership University
The African Leadership University, launched in Mauritius last month with the aim of training Africa’s future leaders, has huge ambitions – to build 25 campuses across the continent and train three million leaders in five decades. It has partnered with Scotland’s Glasgow Caledonian University to award internationally recognised degrees to graduates.
AFRICA
More graduate study, new facilities for top university
Somaliland’s Minister of Education and Higher Studies Abdillahi Ibrahim Habane was among 75 students who graduated last month with a masters degree in international relations and diplomacy from the University of Hargeisa, the country’s largest higher education institution. He extolled the virtues of lifelong learning.
AFRICA
‘Village universities’ expand access, but lower quality
The late Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere’s view of the university as a place where people’s minds are trained for independent thinking and problem solving at the highest level remained unchallenged for half a century in East Africa. But according to new studies, Kenya and Uganda are now shifting to the marketisation of higher education.
SOUTH AFRICA
Ongoing drama in universities and one ‘demotes’ Afrikaans
In a week of ongoing drama in South African higher education, a group of 226 academics from the University of Stellenbosch has backed a management proposal to adopt English as the primary language, with Afrikaans and isiXhosa as ‘additional’ languages. This followed demonstrations at Stellenbosch and violent protests at some other universities, with multiple arrests.
AFRICA
Social sciences neglect leads to narrow development view
The marginalisation of social sciences and humanities in African universities has radically stifled scholarship, according to CODESRIA – the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa. At a workshop in Nairobi, scholars from the diaspora and from Sub-Saharan Africa heard that this had narrowed the region’s view on development.
LIBYA
Higher education disrupted by war, hopes for recovery
Recent weeks have seen some university students in Libya sit examinations. It is a sign that things may be improving after the worst 18 months in the history of higher education. The civil war has seen universities bombed, with education halted at some institutions and operations impeded at others.
KENYA
Crises over degree recognition, fee hike, student loans
When Amos Ngila, a second-year law student at Moi University in Kenya, phoned his father recently to update him on campus events, what he said was so shattering that his dad hung up. The news was that the law school had been closed down, there was an impending tuition fee increase and Ngila was yet to receive his student loan, more than a month into the semester.
SOUTH AFRICA
Campus tempers flare over racism and student elections
Racial problems that have dogged South Africa’s prestigious Stellenbosch University have flared after the publication of a documentary about the discriminatory experiences of black students. The parliamentary portfolio committee on higher education and training is calling the university’s leaders to an urgent meeting, to table institutional transformation plans. Meanwhile, violence has marred the run-up to student elections on other campuses.
AFRICA
Many universities swept up in Islamic extremism
African higher education systems have become casualties of war, caught in the crossfire of Islamic fundamentalism that cuts across the spectrum of religious and political thought, according to Professor Sultan Barakat, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center.
AFRICA
Get rankings right for Africa, university leaders urge
If the conversation about university rankings is important, then the starting point would be to design a ranking system for Africa that encourages positive conduct – “precisely because we know that rankings are influential, for example in resource allocation”, said University of Johannesburg Vice-chancellor Ihron Rensburg at the Times Higher Education Africa Universities Summit held in the city from 30-31 July.
MOZAMBIQUE
Grappling with plagiarism in universities
Banishing academic dishonesty could help Mozambique nurture original thinkers who are economically efficient and socially suited to develop the country. But this will only be possible if administrators work with professors and students to build strong measures to combat widespread plagiarism, which is hampering the production of quality graduates.