23 May 2017 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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HONG KONG
Students form new parties, push for self-determination
Student groups that led Hong Kong’s 2014 pro-democracy protests – also known as the Umbrella movement – have set up their own political parties in Hong Kong to continue to press their demands using political means after they failed to wrest concessions from the Hong Kong government during huge street protests.
GLOBAL
Reality check for open, distance learning institutions
The open and distance learning vision of accessible, low-cost, high-quality provision has never been more relevant, but open and distance learning succeeds in accessibility and convenience much more than in experience and outcomes. These institutions also have yet to make a convincing case for the pedagogical merits of scale, according to a new report.
GLOBAL
High MOOC completion rates in developing countries
Developing world learners use massive open online courses, or MOOCs, very differently than their developed world counterparts, according to a new study. These MOOC users achieved remarkably high certification and course completion rates – with almost four out of five MOOC users completing at least one course.
UGANDA
New universities and 20 technical colleges on the cards
Uganda’s government has halted the trend of upgrading tertiary colleges into universities. Instead it will create new universities from scratch and is also planning to set up 20 new technical colleges to expand vocational education and training.
KENYA
Multi-million-dollar hostels for five universities
Kenya has kicked off a multi-million-dollar push to develop student hostels in five public universities by tapping into private funds, with the ultimate goal being to drive up enrolments. The project is expected to provide more than 50,000 new student beds.
KENYA
University bosses agree on new tuition fee model
Kenya’s public universities have agreed on a new tuition fee model that will see students pay fees based on the courses they undertake. This ends years of haggling over a differentiated unit cost system, which vice-chancellors said last week would promote equity in the funding of public institutions.
GLOBAL
US in Africa on first foreign student recruitment drive
With an eye on Africa’s youthful population, economic growth and swelling middle-class, the United States has embarked on its first education trade mission to the continent, with 25 universities and colleges. Student recruitment and building partnerships with universities are the goals of the visits to South Africa, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.
NIGERIA
Forex ban hits Nigerian students around the world
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has put an end to speculation and announced that students abroad no longer have access to foreign currencies lodged in the central bank to pay for tuition fee and other costs. Along with a plummeting currency, the move is causing suffering for tens of thousands of university students around the world.
UGANDA
Academic low-performers banned from student politics
Academically low-performing students at Makerere University in Uganda may not participate in student leadership. At least 30% of candidates who wanted to contest the top job of student president during last week’s student elections at the flagship university were turned down.
NIGERIA
Minister sacks 13 university vice-chancellors, councils
Nigeria’s education minister has sacked the vice-chancellors and governing councils of 13 federal universities. In the same breath, he announced the university leaders’ successors. Strangely, no reason was given for the mass firing that has shocked the higher education community and the country.
ZIMBABWE
20,000 graduates to be exported to South Sudan
An agreement has been signed that will see Zimbabwe sending nearly 20,000 graduates for employment in South Sudan. This is in line with an initiative by Zimbabwean authorities to export labour from a country that has Africa’s highest literacy rate and one of its highest jobless rates – estimated at over 80%.
SOUTH AFRICA
University leaders seek help as protests turn violent
Violent protests and racial clashes closed universities around South Africa last week. Vice-chancellors called for help in identifying perpetrators of campus violence, who showed “total disregard for the academic project, the rules of engagement and the laws and Constitution”. There have been arrests, injuries, burning of vehicles and destruction of buildings.
EGYPT
Cambridge PhD student murdered in Cairo ‘was tortured’
Nearly 5,000 academics from universities across the world have demanded investigations into disappearances in Egypt after a ‘brilliant’ Italian student was found to have been tortured before being murdered in Cairo. The government has denied allegations that the security services or police were involved.
KENYA
Student poll disputes spark protests, close campuses
It is 5.30pm at a private university in Kenya’s capital Nairobi. Students are settling down for an evening class when the door bursts open and a smartly dressed young man in a navy-blue suit strolls in, a broad grin on his face. Welcome to the world of Kenyan student politics. At least one university has closed following protests over disputed student leadership polls.
NIGERIA
Tertiary unions oppose anti-corruption treasury account
Tertiary education unions in Nigeria are campaigning against a Treasury Single Account, implemented by President Muhammadu Buhari to checkmate fraud and corruption in federal institutions and agencies, including in the education sector. The unions are worried about delayed salary payments and crippled grants from foreign partners for training and research.
AFRICA
Four African countries rated in innovation studies
A new study has ranked South Africa and Kenya at 30 and 51 out of 56 countries for worldwide innovation influence, while in Bloomberg’s index the North African countries of Tunisia and Morocco are in the top 50 for innovation, ranked at 46 and 48.
KENYA
Ten campuses closed, dozens face ban, in quality drive
Tucked away on the outskirts of Kenya’s capital Nairobi, the Commission for University Education has been criticised for not having ‘bite’ in regulating the higher education sector. But this month the commission rose from the shadows, ordering 10 university campuses to close in what could be a turning point in salvaging the country’s higher education system.
EGYPT
Furore over curbs on bonus marks for sports students
Egypt’s higher education authorities have curtailed a decades-old incentive system for sports students, saying that it has been abused for university entry.
AFRICA
‘Green’ university networks being developed in Africa
Africa has been late to join the ‘green’ universities movement – only five institutions on the continent are among more than 400 participating in a global ranking of universities that practise environmentally friendly policies to help combat climate change. But now national and regional ‘green’ university networks are being developed on the continent.
AFRICA
Global gathering of top minds to boost science in Africa
A first global gathering of top (especially young) scientists to be held on African soil, aimed at advancing African science and innovation and showcasing scientific progress on the continent, is being held by the Next Einstein Forum in the Senegalese capital Dakar in March – a year after the first African Higher Education Summit took place there.
EGYPT
Anger after student union election results cancelled
A recent decision by the Egyptian authorities to cancel the results of the nation’s long-delayed university student union election has drawn condemnation from students and academics.
NIGERIA
Electricity, water problems spur clampdowns on students
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.
AFRICA
Pan-African standard to manage research funds planned
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.
EGYPT
Top Islamic university to open first branch campus
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.
AFRICA-EUROPE
New action plan recommends boosting HE cooperation
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.