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Africa News
NIGERIA: Students protest against exorbitant exam fees
Candidates seeking admission into the current 2008-09 academic session in Nigeria are unhappy with high entrance examination fees charged separately by universities and the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, or JAMB. One newspaper analysis calculated that the amount spent by students sitting both sets of examinations was a whopping US$119 million.
ZIMBABWE: Universities still closed as students arrested
Four student leaders were arrested last week for leading a protest of nearly 500 students against the collapse of higher education in Zimbabwe. No state universities are operating in the new academic year because of serious problems including a lecturer strike, lack of finance and unavailability of learning materials.
EGYPT: Anger at revamping of Muslim seminary
Academics at Al Azhar University, the Muslim world's oldest seat of higher learning, have reacted angrily to a decision by the Egyptian government to recategorise the institution's colleges. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, who doubles as Minister of Al Azhar Affairs, ordered separation of the university's religious colleges from ones teaching non-religious subjects to create two institutions.
SENEGAL: UCAD to expand biotechnology courses
The University of Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD) in Dakar is planning to offer a masters degree in plant and microbic biotechnologies which will be accessible to students in other countries, thanks to distance learning. Academics and researchers from Senegal and other countries in the region including Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Mauritania, Mali and Niger, as well as France, met at UCAD for a sub-regional workshop organised by the university's Department of Biology.
SOUTH AFRICA: OECD urges university funding changes
A just-published review by the OECD of South African education has praised "impressive forward thinking" and reform post-apartheid, but has also called for improved management of change in higher education and a reappraisal of university funding. It suggests studies into factors affecting student performance in the face of high drop-out rates, a proactive approach to preparing and integrating new students, and pedagogical training for junior academics.
US-AFRICA: Donors re-commit to African higher education
The seven big United States donors that comprise the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa have announced that they will continue support for universities across the continent beyond their original 10-year commitment - but the form of their collaboration after 2010 has still to be firmed up. By then the Partnership will have made grants worth $350 million to universities, institutions and programmes in nine African countries.
CAMEROON: Libraries need digital updating
Universities in Cameroon need to make more progress in updating their libraries and digitising their documentation. Earlier this month, Jacques Fame Ndongo, Minister of Higher Education, and university presidents met for the presentation of a feasibility study carried out on the country's Inter-university Centre of Documentary Resources, or CIRD, project.
WEST-CENTRAL AFRICA: University of Cotton opens
The University of Cotton, a unique initiative set up by the Association of African Cotton Producers (Aproca) to provide managerial and business expertise to the industry, has held its first course, a five-day seminar at the University-Polytechnic of Bobo-Dioulasso in the heart of the cotton-growing area of Burkina Faso.
NIGERIA: Panic grips students in illegal universities
The National Universities Commission of Nigeria recently published a list of 31 'illegal' universities - including offshore campuses of foreign universities - that it has not approved, prompting panic in the affected institutions. Students face a bleak future if their qualifications are not recognised, teachers are no longer sure of their jobs while governing councils fear being prosecuted and have been lobbying key people in the legislative and executive arms of Nigeria's 36 states to have their universities recognised and accredited.
NIGERIA: Clipping the wings of degree mills
International Higher Education
The Nigerian higher education system, which has 297 institutions (universities, polytechnics and colleges of education) and enrols more than 3.5 million students, is the most expansive in Africa. Highly respected in the past, the system is now sadly paled - among other quality-depressing factors by activities of degree mills.
ZIMBABWE: Academics and students doubt power deal
Academics and students in Zimbabwe have greeted a political power-sharing deal struck earlier this month with caution. Students see little chance of the settlement between long-ruling Zanu-PF party and the rival Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) succeeding, mainly owing to mistrust of autocratic President Robert Mugabe. But lecturers hope it will deliver academic freedom and a return of donors who cut support as oppression deepened.
AFRICA: Unesco conference discusses quality assurance
How to achieve the Millennium Development Goals through higher education and how to improve the quality of higher education in Africa came under discussion in Dakar this month. Delegates gathered in the Senegalese capital for the Third International Conference on Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Africa, organised by the Unesco Bamako Cluster Office and Unesco's regional bureau for education Africa (Breda).
ZAMBIA: University offers free Aids treatment
The University of Zambia is offering anti-retroviral treatment to students and staff free of charge to reduce the impact of the HIV-Aids pandemic on the African country's oldest institution of higher learning and the skilled graduates it produces.
SENEGAL: Anti-brain drain computing grid installed
Cheikh Anta Diop University (UCAD) in Dakar is the first university in sub-Saharan Africa to benefit from installation of a computing grid under the Reversing Brain Drain into Brain Gain for Africa project jointly run by Unesco, Hewlett-Packard and the CNRS, France's national scientific research centre. The new infrastructure will make it easier for researchers at the university to collaborate with colleagues abroad, and give them access to considerable information technology resources (see University World News, 22 June 2008).
ANGOLA: Launch of 'knowledge and research' portal
The Ministry of Science and Technology has launched a 'knowledge and research' portal, accessible to the public, on which postgraduate works may be logged, researchers can contact one another, and academic and scientific information will be published.
ZIMBABWE: Economic crisis keeps universities closed
Zimbabwe's public universities have failed to re-open due to an escalating economic crisis, student unions have confirmed. Most universities were supposed to open last month or early this month, but lecturers have either gone on strike or there are no funds for operations.
SOUTH AFRICA: Report warns of freedom inroads
An exhaustive probe into institutional autonomy and academic freedom by a task team of South Africa's advisory Council on Higher Education has found that government's steering of universities has "grown more directive, less consultative, and occasionally prone to hierarchical decree". It proposes a range of actions including greater commitment on the part of the government to negotiating with universities on planning and funding.
NIGERIA: Polytechnics and colleges to award degrees
Selected polytechnics and colleges of education will soon be upgraded to award university degrees, Nigerian Minister of State for Education Hajiya Aishatu Dukku has announced. Dukku said adequate funds would be made available to employ university-level teachers and upgrade infrastructure at the institutions. One of the main objectives of the reform is to create additional avenues for would-be students in a country where hundreds of thousands of qualified school-leavers are unable to clinch university places each year.
ZAMBIA: Third public university opens
Zambia's third public degree-awarding university began admitting its first intake of students last week. The new institution, established earlier this year after the National College for Management and Development Studies in Kabwe was converted into Mulungushi University, should help to ease congestion at the country's other two state-owned institutions of higher learning, the University of Zambia and Copperbelt University.
SOUTH AFRICA: Race debacle vc resigns
Six months after a racist video showing white Afrikaner students abusing cleaners at the University of the Free State hit the headlines and prompted international outrage, the vice-chancellor has resigned. Professor Frederick Fourie said stress caused by political divisions and tensions in the university council and community had been "extremely draining" and he was stepping down "in the interest of transformation" and development at the university.
BURKINA FASO: Ouagadougou University reopens
A two-month crisis at the University of Ouagadougou is over, with students resuming their courses this month following concessions by the authorities to some of their demands. The campus was abruptly closed in June, after violent clashes between police and protesting students (see University World News, 20 July 2008).
ZIMBABWE: Three students targeted for sanctions
Canada has slapped targeted sanctions on three Zimbabwean university students whose parents are accused of propping up the regime of dictatorial President Robert Mugabe. They are the first students to appear on a Canada list that now features some 180 politicians, entities and officials, spouses and children targeted for travel restrictions and an assets freeze.
DR CONGO: New technology university opens
A new university specialising in technology, the Université de Technologie du Congo, has opened in the Kinshasa suburb of Limete, Le Potentiel of Kinshasa reported. The establishment, officially opened on 1 September, will provide initial and continuing engineering courses in science and technology, together with studies in human and social sciences.
AFRICA: New head for African universities association
The new Secretary General of the Association of African Universities, Professor Goolam Mohamedbhai, took up his post this month. His priorities include growing the AAU's membership, strengthening its secretariat and collaborating with continental development bodies to drive a revival of African universities. This is no easy job - but one for which the former president of the International Association of Universities and University of Mauritius vice-chancellor is exceptionally well qualified.
ZIMBABWE: Unqualified Mugabe supporters access HE
Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party is forcing the admission of young supporters into higher education institutions even though they do not meet entry requirements. Students claim the party is using them to destabilise the student union movement by reporting on its activities.