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.
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.
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.
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’s higher education authorities have curtailed a decades-old incentive system for sports students, saying that it has been abused for university entry.
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.
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.
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.
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.