19 October 2017 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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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.
AFRICA
Mathematical sciences investments could change Africa
Africa largely missed the analogue technology revolution 50 years ago. Experts say the digital age will come to an end faster. There is a need to position Africa to catch up with information and communication technology and be viewed as a global player, said Thierry Zomahoun, president and CEO of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences.
AFRICA
Indigenous knowledge can help researchers solve crises
African researchers should seek inspiration from indigenous knowledge and innovation systems in order to make headway in resolving development problems. The call was made by University of Rwanda senior lecturer, Dr Chika Ezeanya, during a general assembly of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, CODESRIA
AFRICA
Talent of study abroad graduates is under-used – Study
African and European cooperation has produced a growing number of African graduates who have studied abroad. But the continent is not benefitting as much as it should from their world-class talent because, although the graduates want to contribute to capacity building in their fields, local conditions are not conducive, a recent study found.
UGANDA
Entrepreneurship mentors help graduates to create jobs
In Uganda as elsewhere, recent graduates are learning a tough lesson – a university education is no guarantee of a job. More than half of people under 30 are without full-time employment, and the problem is particularly acute among degree holders. Now new initiatives are teaching graduates and students the entrepreneurial skills they need to survive.
AFRICA
Progress and problems for agricultural research – Study
Sub-Saharan Africa’s agricultural research capacity grew by 50% in the decade from 2000, but the quality and quantity of research is being constrained by underinvestment, inadequate human resources and poor infrastructure.
SOUTH AFRICA
Big disparities in philanthropy for universities
Ten South African universities collected a total of R659 million (US$55 million) in philanthropic income during 2013 from 4,355 donors, with nearly half from international organisations. But there were major disparities, a new survey has revealed – two universities attracted half of the funding while five received less than R23 million between them.
GLOBAL
Curbing the brain drain from Africa and Asia
Various studies have found that well-educated people from developing countries are likely to emigrate, hurting their economies and depriving their countries of much-needed expertise in universities. Now Norwegian researchers may have found a solution to the developing world’s brain-drain conundrum.
SOUTH AFRICA
Government post-school reforms fail business – Report
The South African government’s extensive reforms to the skills development and training system over the past decade have failed to deliver adequate skills to business, according to a new report. The focus has been on building supply-side capacity such as sector skills councils and qualifications frameworks and grading, at the expense of actually producing graduates with the necessary skills.
AFRICA
New Arusha convention sparks hopes for degree mobility
The recognition – or not – of qualifications when a student moves from one country to another has long caused headaches in the academic world and hampered the mobility of students, especially in developing or middle-income countries. UNESCO believes there was a breakthrough for Africa last December when 16 countries signed an amended version of the ‘Arusha Convention’ on the recognition of qualifications across the continent.
MOZAMBIQUE
Back to the future – Uneven changes in HE governance
After 10 years of being split under Armando Guebuza’s two terms as Mozambique’s head of state, under the new President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, higher education has been reunited with science and technology, and technical and professional education, in a newly established ministry. The ministry needs to institutionalise practices and coordinating structures, and to promote a more bottom-up approach with input from universities and other key stakeholders.
EGYPT
Alexandria professor’s year-long languish in prison
Dr Mohamed Abdelhamid Kharaba, an assistant professor of chemistry and physics at Egypt’s University of Alexandria, has been languishing in prison without trial for more than a year. Kharaba was arrested on 24 November 2013 and charged with crimes including murder during anti-government protests, and terrorism – accusations that he has denied.
SOUTH AFRICA
Top academics well paid, new generation falling behind
South Africa’s senior academics are better rewarded than comparable staff in the public and private sectors, and they are relatively better paid than lower-ranked lecturers, a study by the vice-chancellors' association Higher Education South Africa has revealed. This is good news for retaining senior staff but bad news for building the next generation of academics.
AFRICA
SKA mega-project boosts astronomy research and skills
The advanced technological skills required to run the Square Kilometre Array, or SKA – a mega-research project due to become fully operational in 2020 in South Africa and eight other African countries – are scarce in Africa. But efforts to rectify that are gathering momentum.
SOUTH AFRICA
New scientometrics centre connects science to society
The Centre of Excellence in Scientometrics and Science, Technology and Innovation Policy – SciSTIP – outlined fields of research and how it will carry out its work at a scientific launch conference held at Stellenbosch University in South Africa earlier this month. A major aim is to produce comprehensive reviews of science and technology – the first in 20 years.
MALI
World Bank plans for Mali’s tattered universities
The World Bank is developing a comprehensive project to rehabilitate Mali’s struggling public universities, which have been drained of highly qualified teaching staff, lack degree diversification and are housed in inappropriate rental spaces in the capital Bamako.
SIERRA LEONE
Ebola – Diary of an MSF epidemiologist in Sierra Leone
After leaving Freetown, capital of Ebola-plagued Sierra Leone, for the airport by hydrofoil, I reflected on how I felt when undertaking this route at the start of my journey. It was night, and there was no electricity. We were disorientated by sensory overload: while trying to become accustomed to the darkness and warm, humid air, we were also contemplating getting used to frequent hand-washing and keeping a distance between ourselves, not touching each other or objects if at all possible.
NIGERIA
Boko Haram fear grips campuses, displaces students
The recent attack by Boko Haram insurgents on a higher education institution in Kano, northern Nigeria’s biggest metropolis, prompted President Goodluck Jonathan to order security agencies to protect university campuses. Ongoing confrontation between the Islamist sect and the military has compelled some students in the north to relocate to other universities in the country and elsewhere in West Africa.
AFRICA
Sub-Saharan Africa’s share of global research rises
Research output in Sub-Saharan Africa has soared over the last 10 years – but it is still not adequate to fuel the region’s fast-growing economies – according to a report published last Tuesday by the World Bank and Elsevier. Crucially, it reveals that the region’s share of global research output is growing.
GLOBAL
ETH Zürich explores ‘future cities lab’ in Africa
Continental Europe’s leading research-intensive university ETH Zürich is exploring the idea of establishing a ‘future cities laboratory’ in Africa following the success of the Singapore-ETH Centre for Global Environmental Sustainability.
SOUTH AFRICA
Major survey of international students in South Africa
The first major study of international students in South Africa has found pull factors to be affordable fees, government subsidies for students from the region, proximity to home and cost of living, the strong reputation of higher education and currency of its qualifications, according to the survey’s authors professors Jenny J Lee and Chika Sehoole.