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.
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.
Under apartheid Loyiso Nongxa would have needed special permission from the South African government to study at the then mainly whites-only University of the Witwatersrand. Now, illustrating the extent of the changes since democracy, he is the vice-chancellor.
An African country won a place for the first time in a global university competition to build the best solar-powered house. The American University in Cairo was selected along with 18 other universities to compete for the top Solar Decathlon prize.
Raymond Qatahar, a first-year law student at Makerere University, is eager to use Not In My Country. The website, launched in May, asks students in Uganda to report corruption in higher education – such as lecturers trading higher grades for money or sex – and lets students rate classroom experiences.
In the basement of Church House in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, worshippers gather at one end of a room for evening prayers. At the other end of the dimly lit space, university students finish assignments for a 17h00 class. The noise from the enthusiastic worshippers fills the room, but the students are at ease. They are used to it.
Back in 2000, academics from Ghana, India, Kenya and America embarked on research into the impacts of the internet on researchers in different parts of the world. Then post-election ethnic violence rocked Kenya in 2007-08 and the focus of the research shifted. It led to a documentary film, launched last month, on violence and humanity.
Private education giant Educor is set to become the first South African institution to set up branch campuses outside the country as it expands its operations into four new African countries under its well-known Intec and Damelin brands.
A new salary deal has slightly slowed the brain drain from Senegal’s premier Université Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar. But it confronts a new threat in the form of ageing academics. With 80,000 students, it faces losing 60% to 70% of academics by 2015 as a result of large-scale retirements.
Teachers at Senegal’s public universities have decided to resume classes while waiting for new President Macky Sall to settle into office and deal with urgent issues – but they are encountering problems doing their jobs because of disruption by school-leavers who have yet to sign up for courses.
At the start of 2017, a selection of scholars and experts share their views on the major trends expected to impact higher education in the Arab world’s 22 states, which includes 10 countries in Africa.
Students have been hard-hit by the country’s higher education regulator’s decision last year to close 13 university campuses which did not meet the required standards, an outcome attributed by university leaders to inadequate funding of a rapidly growing sector.
A continent steeped in conflicts and struggling to achieve development for its people should provide sustainable support for universities to help attain peace, says Paul Omojo Omaji, a professor of criminology and former vice-chancellor of Salem University, Lokoja in Nigeria. “Peace is priceless in any developmental equation.”
The recent licensing of eight new private universities has raised questions about the wisdom of expanding a sector already struggling to provide quality education geared towards the 21st century.
Since it was first raised three decades ago, progress towards the harmonisation of higher education quality assurance and accreditation processes has been slow and awareness of the issue and various initiatives to drive it remain frustratingly limited.
A new generation of young African entrepreneurs and innovators, keen to contribute towards the alleviation of poverty and address global development challenges, is being nurtured in a number of universities on the continent.
While the number of students in Africa continues to rise, universities often fail to equip them with skills needed for employment – and they have two to three times less chance of finding work than those who left school after primary level. This situation formed part of the backdrop for a conference that debated problems faced by higher education in Africa – and suggested some innovative solutions.
2iE – Institut International d’Ingénierie de l’Eau et de l’Environnement – in Burkina Faso is an internationally recognised engineering school. It is one of many imaginative initiatives aimed at boosting the number and quality of engineers produced by universities in Africa.
The growth of higher education and its obligation to contribute towards sustainable development in some East African countries is hampered by a myriad challenges, with inadequate funding being one of the most significant. But there are some solutions, according to higher education experts.
The higher education sector must produce more science, engineering and technology graduates, science and maths secondary school teachers, as well as early childhood development professionals if South Africa is to produce the kind of skills needed to encourage inclusive development.
Kenya has been left smarting from a reputation nightmare after ethnicity reared its ugly head in one of the top universities, as educationists warn of a growing rot across institutions.
“You have to have chutzpah” to be a professional in the field of HIV-AIDS, quips Linda-Gail Bekker, a professor of medicine at the University of Cape Town and chief operating officer of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation. Bekker is about to become the first female president from Africa of the International AIDS Society.
Egypt’s universities have failed to provide graduates with high-level, job market-related skills to fill more than 600,000 vacancies in the private sector, contributing to high levels of educated youth unemployment – and in some cases ‘wilful’ joblessness – according to the African Development Bank.
UNESCO and the Commonwealth of Learning have produced a guide to raise MOOC – massive open online course – awareness in developing nations, and to advise on how policy-makers can build new routes to higher education and lifelong learning to benefit increasing numbers of people.
Mathematics is “vital” for achieving a thriving science, technology, engineering and mathematics workforce in Africa, according to experts. Yet it faces critical challenges: low university funding, a brain drain, and reduced intake of undergraduate students in maths.