Masters students in Kenya face difficult times under new regulations by the Commission for University Education that require them to complete their courses in two years. And those who choose to become lecturers will only be able to do so after obtaining a doctorate.
The universities of Assane Seck de Ziguinchor and of Thiès have been hit by staff and student protests over inadequate facilities – with students at Assane Seck calling an indefinite strike, although the higher education minister has said their demands have been met.
The World Bank will provide US$33 million to improve governance in Mali’s higher education system and to support more than 20,000 students to acquire skills that enable them to get decent jobs.
Controversy has hit one of Kenya’s oldest and leading private institutions, the United States International University – Africa, over who exactly owns the university and whether it is a non-profit or business entity. Parliament has opened an inquiry into the university’s operations.
Cairo University recently became the first academic institution in Egypt to launch an initiative against sexual harassment, amid an alleged rise in the offence on campuses across the country. The university’s President Gaber Nassar said the move was aimed at establishing a model for curbing on-campus harassment.
South African institutions have performed well in the new QS – Quacquarelli Symonds – World University Rankings by Subject 2015. There are seven of the country's universities in the ranking, South African institutions cumulatively appear 15 times among the top 100 across the disciplines and the University of Cape Town is seventh globally in development studies.
Zimbabwe has established a fund for university graduates to start businesses to help stem the country’s high employment rate, currently pegged at 90%. Most graduates end up on the streets, with some even resorting to vending as Zimbabwe’s economic crisis deepens.
The Association of African Universities, the African Union Commission and the European Union have issued a call to African universities to join the second phase of their Harmonisation and Tuning initiative.
The first part of major research into “Building Academic Freedom and Democracy in Africa” has revealed that 14 African countries have explicit reference to academic freedom in their constitutions. Now academics across the continent are being called on to participate in a survey of academic freedom norms and practices on the ground.
A Moroccan-German Institute of Applied Sciences is to open in Meknès in Morocco under a partnership between Morocco’s University of Moulay Ismaïl and Germany’s Aachen University of Applied Sciences – one of a number of partnership initiatives set to revolutionise research in Moroccan universities and institutes. Another initiative is the establishment of an Egyptian-Moroccan research coalition.
Kenya has embraced the University Research Chairs – or URC – programme, a model that has already been adopted by countries such as Canada and South Africa.
The Egyptian E-Learning University has launched an open initiative called Learn4All that will provide free learning opportunities for everyone.
The Algerian higher education union Conseil National des Enseignants du Supérieur called a three-day strike last week principally over a revised statute for lecturer-researchers, while in Tunisia last-minute talks between the Fédération Générale de l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche Scientifique and the higher education ministry failed to prevent a one-day strike over bonuses.
With many graduates across Africa unable to secure jobs, links between university education and industry are under intense scrutiny. The failure of companies to employ graduates is blamed largely on irrelevant course content that does not match industry needs.
The German Academic Exchange Service held a one-week training programme for 35 quality assurance directors drawn from English speaking higher education institutions in West Africa. The training in Ghana’s capital Accra was part of a project to help design quality assurance systems for tertiary institutions across the region.
The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, the sole agency mandated to conduct entrance examinations for universities in Nigeria, has held its first computer-based test for more than 1.4 million candidates at some 400 ICT centres countrywide.
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa – COMESA – is set to establish within six months a virtual university aimed at supporting regional integration. COMESA Virtual University will work with a network of institutions in a collaborative initiative aimed at enhancing the generation and dissemination of research related to regional integration.
Tunisia’s ministry of higher education has announced five priorities for higher education and research – reform of the sector, university autonomy, employability of graduates, improving education provided by private institutions and increasing efficiency in the use of research facilities.
Turkey and Morocco are implementing a higher education cooperation plan that includes setting up a joint higher education institution, networking among universities and mutual recognition of degrees aimed at enhancing student and academic mobility.
A new scholarship scheme funded by the African Development Bank is under way, aimed at training more lecturers and boosting teaching in the fields of science, engineering and technology in Kenya’s new universities.
The Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa, or AESA, has started operations and there are plans to run funding grants before the end of the year. AESA is a pan-African platform to source funding for science and health research, created by the African Academy of Sciences and the New Partnership for Africa's Development agency.
Riled by non-payment of February salaries and bonuses from December, lecturers at some public universities in Zimbabwe have gone on strike over the last two weeks. At least four universities across the country saw anger spill into the streets – but the government quickly resolved the problem before it spiralled out of control by providing much-needed funds.
Senegal’s higher education union Syndicat Autonome de l’Enseignement Supérieur has signed an agreement with the government, bringing to an end a long-running dispute over new higher education legislation. The signing of the accord took place on 16 March, after ministers accepted a union amendment on the composition of governing boards in public universities.
The East African Credit Accumulation and Transfer project undertaken by higher education authorities in the region’s five countries has entered a fifth phase, with experts agreeing on minimum standards for psychology, counselling, community development, developmental studies and social work programmes.
A total of 424 professors and associate professors were employed in Ghana’s public universities in 2013-14, up from 317 the previous year, according to figures released by the National Council for Tertiary Education.