18 April 2014 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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Africa News
EGYPT: Furore over honorary doctorate for First Lady
A decision by Egypt's most prestigious public higher education institution, Cairo University, to confer an honorary doctorate on Suzanne Mubarak, wife of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, has divided the country's academics.
AFRICA: AU honours leading women scientists
The African Union Commission recently lived up to its commitment to support the popularisation of science and technology among Africans and promote efforts to transform scientific research into sustainable development with the awarding of Regional Scientific Awards to five women.
SOUTH AFRICA: Jury out on intellectual property laws
Will South Africa's Intellectual Property Rights from Publicly Financed Research and Development (IPR) Act incentivise or bureaucratise innovation at public universities? Some academics are concerned about the law's impacts on international collaboration and open access to research, among other things. But it seems only time will tell.
AFRICA: Network aims for global web to reduce brain drain
The African Leadership and Progress Network, or ALPN, aims to form a web of scholars, intellectuals and experts to mitigate the effects of brain drain, foster development and reduce poverty on the continent.
ANGOLA-NAMIBIA: Universities sign cooperation agreement
A cooperation accord for the development of technical and scientific capacity and skills in various fields was signed last week between Angola's Agostinho Neto University and its Namibia's counterpart, reports Angop Agency.
SOUTH AFRICA: Vice-chancellors, law deans slam bill
University vice-chancellors and law deans across South Africa have joined the growing protest against the country's controversial proposed media laws. Higher Education South Africa, the vice-chancellors' association, and the South African Law Deans Association have condemned the planned legislation as placing academic freedom in jeopardy.
ZAMBIA: Higher education gender disparities reduced
Zambia has said it is on the way towards meeting one of the Millennium Development Goals of eliminating gender disparities in education – including in higher education through affirmative action programmes for female students.
AFRICA: Confucius institutes grow Chinese
China is bridging the cultural gap between itself and Southern Africa through Confucius Institutes, the newest teaching Mandarin – simplified traditional Chinese – to students at the University of Cape Town. There are now 25 institutes across Africa, including four in South Africa, where China has become the largest trading partner.
AFRICA: Union might take over Obiang science prize
The African Union may take on the controversial Unesco-Obiang Nguema Mbasogo International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences after talks were held on the issue by African leaders on the margins of the African Union summit in Kampala in July.
NIGERIA: Dramatic increase in female undergraduates
The number of female students in Nigeria has risen almost seven-fold since independence in 1960 and women could soon outnumber their male counterparts in the country's universities, according to experts. Recently released statistics show the proportion of female students rose from 7.7% in 1960 to 45% in 2009.
KENYA: Pressure to speed up universities bill
Lecturers and politicians in Kenya have renewed pressure on the government to expedite a pending universities bill, which aims to revolutionise the country's shaky higher education sector. Among other things the bill seeks to bring all universities – public and private – under a common law and repeal the parliamentary acts of seven public universities.
SOUTH AFRICA: Row over research into school books
With its basic education system in a shambles, the South African government is rolling out easy-to-read workbooks to the poorest schools. But it may be wasting millions of Rand – more rigorous research is needed to test the efficacy of such books before they are handed out to children, according to a new study by researchers at the University of the Witwatersrand and JET Education Services. The study has infuriated the book project leaders.
BURKINA FASO: Post-crisis Ouaga adjusts to Bologna
As universities prepare to integrate the degree structure known in French-speaking countries as 'LMD' (licence-master-doctorat), based on Europe's Bologna process, Professor Jean Couldiaty explained in a newspaper interview how he is dealing with the aftermath of crises at the University of Ouagadougou, where he is president – and why some student habits must change.
TUNISIA: President's measures for development
A ministerial council meeting presided over by President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali met to discuss putting into effect measures for higher education under the president's Together let's meet the challenges plan for development.
ETHIOPIA: Dilemmas of higher education massification
Ethiopia is moving very rapidly from an elite towards a mass public sector higher education system. The considerable challenges raised by 'massification' include teaching quality, funding, the need for a more professionalised leadership, staff shortages and institutional structure and mission. The operation of the Ethiopian system, where innovation is highly centralised, also makes local responsiveness difficult.
SOMALILAND: Higher education booms despite challenges
Struggling to rebuild its infrastructure after years of civil war with Somalia, Somaliland saw its first university inaugurated in 1998 and has been steadily building its higher education system ever since. While significant challenges remain, higher education is booming as each year thousands of school-leavers pin their hopes on the country's universities and colleges.
ANGOLA: Call for research centres of excellence
Angola's Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technologies, Maria Cândida Teixeira, has called on the heads of institutes of science education to create centres of excellence in their regions.
AFRICA: Continent-wide space agency being considered
Africa is a step closer to setting up its own space agency, with the approval of a planned feasibility study by the 53 member states of the African Union earlier this month. The African Space Agency, as it would be known, would be intended to help ensure the continent becomes an important player in the global space programme.
ISRAEL: University defies right-wing boycott threat
The President of Ben-Gurion University of Negev has pledged to ignore threats by a right-wing political group to incite a boycott by international and other donors if staff and curriculum changes are not made. "We should never surrender to these pressures," said Professor Rivka Carmi.
EGYPT: Universities to scrap textbooks and go digital
To many academics and students in Egypt, Minister of Higher Education Hani Hilal is the minister of controversy. Months ago, citing security concerns, he banned female students wearing the niqab (full-face veil) from staying in low-cost dormitories or sitting exams. He triggered another uproar when he decided not to build new law schools, saying that the country already had sufficient. His latest controversial decision is to ban the use of textbooks.
SOUTH AFRICA: Decline in PhD numbers a major problem
South Africa's inability to produce enough doctoral graduates to build the 'knowledge economy' it aspires to, or simply to replace the existing cohort of academics in the higher education system, is a challenge widely acknowledged by government departments, their agencies and universities. But fixing the problem is a lot harder.
KENYA: Call for 'tribal' vice-chancellors to be moved
A body formed to help curb ethnicity and boost cohesion in Kenya in the wake of a 2008 post-election crisis wants top administrators in public universities moved over tribalism. It claimed that most vice-chancellors had been appointed along tribal lines or on the basis of dominant ethnic affinities in the regions where universities were located, rather than on merit.
NIGERIA: Oversea seminars for legislators slammed
Academics at Nigerian universities have once again condemned the use of public funds for Nigerian lawmakers to attend university seminars in the US. This comes after a seminar offered by Kansas University to Nigerian legislators became embroiled in charges of financial irregularity involving the university, a Nigerian-born staff member and top Nigerian presidential officials.
ZAMBIA: Spotlight on education and health research
In recent updates to parliament, lawmakers heard of plans to strengthen mathematics and science education, that construction work on Zambia's most prestigious university had remained unfinished for 45 years, and that government was funding collaborative research with a South African institute on testing traditional HIV-Aids medicines.
NAMIBIA: Team to research drug-resistant malaria
The University of Namibia has pulled together a multi-disciplinary team of scientists to conduct research into malaria, amid concerns over the growing global problem of drug-resistant malaria. The Malaria Research Project aims to make more malaria treatments available in the country and monitor emerging resistance to drugs.