23 September 2017 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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Mega-universities and more money for higher education
Nigeria’s National Economic Council recently made several far-reaching decisions on the future of tertiary education in the country, including the creation of ‘mega-universities’ in six geo-political zones, each with the capacity to admit up to 150,000 students.
Branch campus ordered to cease postgraduate courses
The Tanzania Commission for Universities has finally acted against a branch campus of Uganda’s Kampala International University, ordering the Dar es Salaam-based institution to stop offering masters and doctoral courses.
Dead woman’s skull leads to racism-in-science project
The discovery of a mysterious human skull in an obsolete department at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa has exposed links to Nazi Germany and led to a groundbreaking new ‘racism in science’ research project by the faculty of arts and social sciences.
Survey shows failure to reach R&D target of 1% of GDP
South Africa needs to escalate its expenditure on research and development and increase its international competitiveness, said Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom. Disappointingly, the lofty goal of raising R&D spending to 1% of gross domestic product by 2010 has not been achieved.
Cambridge v-c on universities and the poorest billion
Do the world’s leading universities have a role to play in alleviating the plight of the 1.3 billion people living with extreme poverty and hunger on incomes of less than US$1.25 a day while a further five billion people live on less than $9 per day? The question was raised last Thursday by Cambridge University Vice-chancellor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz.
The L’Oréal-UNESCO Awards – Science needs women
When Nigerian Francisca Nneka Okeke was a child, she would wonder about the changing colour of the sky and the ability of aeroplanes to fly in the atmosphere without plummeting back to Earth. Today she is a laureate of the L’Oréal-UNESCO Award For Women in Science.
Scandal highlights sexual abuse at universities
It is rare for students to speak out about sexual harassment at South African universities and so the problem often goes unrecognised. But investigation into a sex scandal that has rocked the University of the Witwatersrand has brought the subject under the spotlight.
Social entrepreneurship – The new community engagement
Social entrepreneurship should be the new engagement for individuals and the public and private sectors, with implications for university training – especially in Africa – according to Goos Minderman, public governance professor at Vrije Universiteit in The Netherlands.
Polytechnics prepare for growth but face prejudice
With the University of Ghana preparing to stop offering diplomas, one would have expected polytechnics to be jubilant over less competition and more courses. But they are sceptical about benefiting because there is widespread public belief that universities offer the only tertiary education worth having.
Building academic freedom amid political instability
Academics have proposed strategies to protect and promote academic freedom and autonomy amid the waves of socio-political transformation that have followed Arab Spring revolutions in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.
Spending boost of 30% to finance new universities
Kenya has increased funding for higher education by 30% for the financial year beginning in July, as it seeks to bankroll 15 new public universities. But institutions say even this boost is way below financial needs – and election promises made by Kenya’s new president could disrupt the sector’s plans.
Red tape threatens to strangle science
Draconian new regulations for all academic research in Namibia represent a first-class invitation to several possible constitutional lawsuits.
UNESCO must lead on HE, says Africa’s candidate for DG
UNESCO should promote higher education in the developing world in particular, to provide hope for unemployed young people, according to Rachad Farah, Djibouti’s ambassador to the UN agency, who is a candidate for the top UNESCO job.
Presidential candidates pledge higher education reform
Politicians seeking the presidency in Kenya’s 4 March elections have proposed far-reaching changes to higher education. In manifestos launched in recent weeks, the top candidates have among other things proposed restructuring higher education and making it free, building more technical colleges, new student bursaries and higher salaries for lecturers.
IFC investment to support private HE push into Africa
A US$150 million equity investment by the International Finance Corporation into the US company Laureate Education will help spearhead its private post-secondary education push into Africa.
Southern African universities association – What next?
The Southern African Regional Universities Association has completed its first phase, with funding ended and most of its staff gone. But there remains a need to drive regional higher education collaboration, according to Dr John Butler-Adam: “What happens next will require new approaches, nuanced strategising and strong implementation skills.”
Far-reaching reform as universities law is enacted
Kenya has enacted higher education reforms aimed at streamlining and improving the management of university affairs. The Universities Act 2012, finally signed into law by President Mwai Kibaki this month, introduces far-reaching changes.
Higher education stakeholders to forge a 'contract'
Higher education in Nigeria is in crisis and one of the causes is the lack of a ‘social contract’, according to a recent high-level policy dialogue. It resolved to hold a biannual summit involving all stakeholders in forging a common front aimed at tackling challenges facing the sector.
Agency fights to maintain standards during HE expansion
The Ethiopian government’s Higher Education Relevance and Quality Agency is to implement new measures designed to raise standards in universities. The initiative comes amid major concerns about the state of the country’s fast-growing tertiary education sector.
‘Moral’ controversy over fees in mission universities
A comment posted on Facebook about the ‘immorality’ of exorbitant fees levied by church-run universities in Nigeria has generated controversy within and outside their walls. Mission-based universities charge fees ranging from US$24,000 to US$42,000 per academic session.
Graduate unemployment in a skills-short economy
South Africa has a glaring disparity between its higher education system and the workplace, an issue that can only further harm an economy struggling to absorb its youth and grow in line with its BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – trading bloc partners.
Postgraduate drivers trend raises relevance issue
Among the applicants for truck driver positions advertised recently by a Nigerian-owned transnational company were holders of degrees, MBAs, masters and some PhDs, from reputable universities at home and abroad. The rush for low-skill jobs raises questions about the usefulness and relevance of university education.
Stronger universities needed to support development
Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing positive economic development, and there is increasing understanding of the important contributions universities have to make if African societies are to achieve the next stages of development.
High hopes for central university applications system
The tragic death in January of Gloria Sekwena, who accompanied her son Kgositsile when he tried to secure late admission to the University of Johannesburg and was killed in a stampede of desperate applicants, was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for South Africa's government. From next year, a central applications system will be in place.
Student loan debt is US$1.5 billion and rising
South Africa’s Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande recently revealed that graduates acquiring tertiary education with assistance from the government-funded National Student Financial Aid Scheme owe R13.4 billion (US$1.5 billion) in unpaid loans – and about 20% of them have not repaid a single cent.