Although strides have been made, women academics are still losing out to male colleagues at South African universities, especially at the senior level. Pervasive patriarchal attitudes, the lingering effects of apartheid and a woman's childbearing responsibilities are the major challenges faced by female educators as they climb the career ladder, and statistics show their situation hasn't improved much this past decade.
New plans for broadening the two-way street between African and European universities were unveiled at a conference in Brussels last week, where 150 delegates from both continents debated closer ties in higher education. The conference focused on a newly published White Paper on bridging arrangements between institutions and greater cooperation between scholars in Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa.
UN experts are calling on universities to help them map the impact of HIV-Aids on higher education institutions and how this is being addressed.
Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe last week cancelled a trip to Ecuador to receive an honorary university degree in civil law after opposition to the honour mounted at home and abroad.
In a bid to link higher education funding to society's long-term economic goals, Kenya plans to review courses offered by the country's public universities, putting emphasis on science and technology - a shift that could see dozens of popular courses scrapped. And Higher Education Minister William Ruto said only science and technology students at public universities would in future be assured of government funding.
Kenya plans to launch a multi-million dollar e-learning university next year, potentially increasing higher education access and easing an admissions crisis plaguing public universities. The National Open University of Kenya will enable students to pursue their degree dreams through online learning, a trend already practiced on a small scale by private universities.
To Egypt's over-stretched public universities it is a godsend but to private universities the results of the 'gap year', in which far fewer secondary school leavers are attending universities, is a major problem.
A week-long strike over salaries at the University of Botswana has effectively ended, with staff returning to work on 21 September and a number of strategies planned to address the situation. Unresolved issues between university staff and management have been outstanding for most of 2010.
Zimbabwe is set to cut back on nursing students' funding and intakes at institutions of higher learning, after all vacancies were filled, a senior official said in a statement. In a related move the state is considering loosening its strict controls over bonded students in its cadetship programme.
At the end of August, government leaders from China and South Africa announced that they would advance bilateral cooperation in a wide range of areas, including higher education and scientific research. The partnership follows a series of collaborations that have been set up following the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2000 and the formulation of the Chinese government's 'Africa Policy'.
The mountain came to us, literally and figuratively. The who's who of South African higher education came to Cape Town to share, enlighten and challenge 87 women from 14 African countries and America on various aspects of this expansive subject. I have a photograph to prove it - a group shot of delegates attending the annual HERS-SA Academy for women in leadership in higher education, against the backdrop of Table Mountain.
African universities have few female students opting for 'hard sciences'. And despite the availability of funds, attracting female science lecturers is even more challenging. These were among concerns discussed recently in Cape Town by senior women from universities in Botswana, Mauritius and Tanzania attending the HERS-SA academy. The consensus was that the problem boils down to a shortage of role models.
In a bid to catch up with technology, address a host of registration-related challenges and offer students improved service, Zambia's first state university, the University of Zambia or UNZA, has introduced online student registration and payment.
Tunisia has launched a EURO 436 million science and technology strategic plan to boost research and promote innovation and a knowledge-based economy over the next five years, 2010-14.
In a predictably cerebral speech containing strong echoes of his hallmark African Renaissance theme, former South African president Thabo Mbeki has argued for the central role of the university in development and highlighted the "self-definition of the African intelligentsia" as one of the most important tasks of student leaders. He was addressing the African Student Leaders' Summit held in Cape Town earlier this month.
University of Cape Town Vice-chancellor Max Price lamented the dearth of student activism, at the inaugural African Student Leaders' Summit held in the city from 6-10 September. The aim of bringing student representatives from across the continent together, he said, was to contribute to the rise of the next generation of leaders, who will help develop solution's to Africa's many challenges and take advantages of its significant opportunities.
The Commission for Africa, established by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2004, has called on the donor community to increase funding to Africa's higher education system, saying there has been no improvement in resources channeled towards the sector in the past five years.
Zimbabwe's government has threatened to fire or jail university vice-chancellors and principals accused of expelling students who have failed to raise higher education fees. The higher education managers are in violation of a government decree issued earlier this year.
Kenya plans to use private universities to admit government-sponsored students, in a deal expected to help ease an admissions crisis that state universities have been unable to resolve. The plan, announced last week and the first of its kind in Kenya, will see private universities admitting at least 25,000 extra students in the next two years.
In a move signaling the intention of cleaning up the higher education sector, Kenya could soon close up to 500 tertiary colleges said to be operating illegally. East Africa's biggest economy had given a 21-day notice - which expired on Friday - to 592 technical and vocational education and training institutes not registered with the ministry of higher education.
The Nigerian government is putting the finishing touches to an elaborate plan to deregulate public universities that includes an end to government's commitment to substantially fund public higher education. A key aspect of the proposed deregulation is a projected astronomical increase in student fees.
The World Bank has approved a loan of US$40 million to Mozambique for its higher education sector. Of this amount, US$27.7 million is earmarked for higher education student support, with the remaining US$12.3 million to be used to build the science and technology sector.
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.
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.
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.