The stifling of student unionism in Nigeria is continuing, without any credible plan to find a lasting solution to the problem of campus unrest. When students demand their rights – often the issue is lack of electricity and water – universities close campuses and order the evacuation of halls of residence, suspend student leaders or dissolve their unions.
A new body started this year with the ambition to raise the quality and quantity of Africa’s research output, the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa, is launching a new initiative to develop continental standards and transparency in managing donor research funds in universities, research institutions and governments.
Al-Azhar University – considered the ‘Oxford’ of the Islamic world – is to open its first branch campus outside home country Egypt. The branch in Al Ain, the second largest city in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, is expected to open in September next year.
The European Union and the African Union have adopted a plan to improve higher education cooperation, mobility and mutual recognition of qualifications in an effort to encourage legal migration free of the ‘suffering, abuse and exploitation’ experienced during the current sharp influx of refugees and migrants.
As life returns to normal in Sierra Leone following the World Health Organization’s decision to declare the country free of Ebola, it is emerging that one of its universities – which produces the bulk of the country’s health workers – has been badly hit by the loss of key staff.
The BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – last Wednesday signed a far-reaching agreement on cooperation in education that includes joint research and more collaboration in postgraduate training and co-publishing.
A sharp drop in oil revenue, combined with stringent new rules to prevent haemorrhaging of foreign currency reserves, has left thousands of Nigerian students studying abroad cut off from financial support, with the government agencies and parents unable to assist them. Students have sent distress calls to the Nigerian government for assistance.
Zimbabwe has come up with a law compelling the higher and tertiary education minister to ensure that at least half of ministerial appointees on all university councils are women, as required by the country’s Constitution.
Moroccan academic Maati Monjib has suspended his three-week hunger strike after authorities ended a travel ban imposed on him. But he has been accused of destabilising state security and might face up to five years in prison.
In an apparent violation of academic and other freedoms, Morocco’s government has allegedly prevented historian Maati Monjib from travelling to take part in conferences in Europe. Now the academic, human rights activist and writer is struggling for his life, more than two weeks into a hunger strike protesting against the government’s treatment of him.
Egypt is to establish a Higher Education Regulatory Funding Authority in collaboration with the United Kingdom. The aim is to create an improved and more autonomous higher education system.
A ban by Cairo University, Egypt’s biggest public higher education institution, on women lecturers wearing the full-face veil – the niqab – has sparked controversy among academics in this mostly Muslim country.
South African President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday announced the creation of a national task team “to explore solutions to short-term student funding challenges”. The decision was taken during a meeting with vice-chancellors and university council leaders increasingly concerned about issues such as student violence, politicisation of campuses and insufficient financial aid.
The Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie, which promotes higher education and research in French-speaking universities throughout the world, has appointed a new director, Jean-Paul de Gaudemar.
Students and lecturers in four colleges of education that were upgraded into universities by former president Goodluck Jonathan just before he left office earlier this year, staged peaceful protests against alleged attempts by Nigeria’s new president to return them to colleges status.
A US$15 million initiative to strengthen science granting councils in Africa held its inaugural forum in the Kenyan capital Nairobi this month. Initially science councils will be supported in 12 countries – Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Egypt’s controversial minister of higher education has been replaced in a cabinet change unveiled recently. The sacking of El-Sayed Abdel Khalek, who got the portfolio in June last year, followed a series of disputed decisions that angered the country’s lecturers and students.
The African Academy of Sciences and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development have launched the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa, with the ambition to raise the quality and quantity of the continent’s research output. Two new research initiatives were also announced, including a US$70 million grant to develop world-class researchers.
The study of how people process and document the human experience in order to understand and record the world is set for growth with a new ‘flagship’ programme in humanities at the University of the Western Cape. The ‘flagship’ is a new institutional form aimed at responding to gaps in the framework of higher education in South Africa.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has reportedly pledged top priority for an increase in university funding, and has instructed the National Universities Commission and the federal education ministry to work out how this might best be done. The populous country’s leader is said to be disturbed by the poor performance of Nigerian universities in rankings.
Some academics and students have slammed as unfair a new admissions system for public universities in Egypt, based on where students live. Which university a student is allowed to attend will be linked to the student's hometown.
The first Global Conference on Internationalisation of Higher Education will be held in August next year, in South Africa’s huge Kruger Park game reserve. The event flows from the first inclusive Global Dialogue held in Port Elizabeth in January 2014, attended by 24 international education organisations from across the world.
Hundreds of African students are leaving for Japan this year, the second group to join the African Business Education Initiative for Youth, a five-year plan to provide 1,000 young Africans with opportunities to study for masters degrees at top universities and do internships at leading Japanese companies.
Police officers will be deployed on request to Kenyan universities to boost security and guard against possible future attacks by religious extremists, the government has said.
A government plan to withdraw funding from university-based primary schools and demonstration secondary schools on all campuses in Nigeria has met with sharp resistance. The schools were created and funded as an integral part of faculties of education to research methods of improving teaching and learning.