21 September 2017 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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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.
SIERRA LEONE
University at heart of Ebola battle badly hit by deaths
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.
GLOBAL
New BRICS deal on education, research collaboration
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.
NIGERIA
Students abroad ‘stranded’ following economic woes
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
Half state appointees on university councils to be women
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.
MOROCCO
Academic suspends hunger strike as travel ban is lifted
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.
MOROCCO
Academic on hunger strike over travel ban, harassment
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
New higher education regulatory body to boost autonomy
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.
EGYPT
Ban on niqab-wearing lecturers sparks academic row
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 AFRICA
President announces task team to probe student funding
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.
GLOBAL
New head for international francophone university agency
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.
NIGERIA
Protests greet downgrading of upgraded universities
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.
AFRICA
Initiative to strengthen 16 African science councils
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
Controversial higher education minister replaced‬
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.