University World News Africa Edition
27 January 2013 Issue 0103 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Uncertain future for Southern African Regional Universities Association

In Africa News, Wagdy Sawahel reveals that the rapid increase in internet connectivity, digitisation programmes and booming online higher education enrolments have made Africa the world’s most dynamic e-learning market.
In Africa Features, we unpack a review by John Butler-Adam on the work of the Southern African Regional Universities Association, which is fighting for survival after running out of funding, and in Kenya Gilbert Nganga outlines recently enacted higher education reforms aimed at streamlining and improving the management of university affairs.
In World Blog, Grace Karram in Canada argues that in an era of cuts, policy-makers need to be clear that education is about the social good, not the bottom line.
Australians Craig Whitsed and Wendy Green contend in Commentary that internationalisation must begin with a comprehensive overhaul of the curriculum, while Roger Y Chao Jr in Hong Kong asserts that growing internationalisation has led to a greater focus on the profit motive, lower standards and an obsession with rankings.
Edwin Eisendrath and James DeVaney write that American universities and colleges may be worried about the future, but many are ready to grab the possibilities that international competition and online technology offer.
Experts at the World Future Energy Summit believe higher education will be key to attempts to move to low-carbon energy systems, reports Alecia D McKenzie in Global Features, and Alison Moodie finds that changes to America’s GI Bill are threatening to make it more difficult and expensive for veterans to benefit from higher education.
Karen MacGregor – Africa Editor
Wagdy Sawahel

As a result of a sharp rise in academic digitisation programmes, booming enrolment in online higher education and the rapid adoption of self-paced e-learning, Africa has become the most dynamic e-learning market in the world – with Senegal in first place followed by Zambia, Zimbabwe and Kenya.
Nicola Jenvey

The appointment of the Ministerial Oversight Committee on Transformation in South African Public Universities caused waves within hours of its announcement last Wednesday, including questions over its composition. Among other things, the committee has been tasked with developing a transformation charter and benchmarks for the entire university sector.
Karen MacGregor

After six years of research, publications, dialogues, training and advocacy, the Southern African Regional Universities Association has run out of funding and its future is uncertain.
See also the Features section
Ashraf Khaled

Two years ago Islam Ali, then a first-year law student, joined thousands of Egyptians in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in an uprising against long-serving president Hosni Mubarak. The 18-day protests forced Mubarak to step down after nearly 30 years in power. Today, Islam is disillusioned.
Wagdy Sawahel

An initiative to unify Islamic universities in Africa has been launched, in an effort to foster cooperation, enhance academic mobility and promote mutual recognition of degrees.
Munyaradzi Makoni

China opened two new research centres dedicated to Africa last month. The Communication University of China launched a centre devoted to China-Africa media relations while Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University started the Center for China-Africa Agriculture and Forestry Research.

Leading Malawian academics joined 17 January demonstrations against the government of President Joyce Banda as the relationship between the two sides showed signs of strain, threatening to return the country to the animosity that prevailed between the state and lecturers when the late president Bingu wa Mutharika ruled.
Jane Marshall

A performance contract worth more than US$18 million between the University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar and Senegal’s Ministry of Higher Education and Research has been officially launched, with five principal objectives and the aim of achieving excellence in five years.
Karen MacGregor

The Southern African Regional Universities Association has completed its first phase, with funding ended and most of its staff gone. But there remains a need to drive regional higher education collaboration, according to Dr John Butler-Adam: “What happens next will require new approaches, nuanced strategising and strong implementation skills.”
Gilbert Nganga

Kenya has enacted higher education reforms aimed at streamlining and improving the management of university affairs. The Universities Act 2012, finally signed into law by President Mwai Kibaki this month, introduces far-reaching changes.
Maina Waruru

Scientists in Kenya whose work is published in internationally recognised journals are to be financially rewarded by the National Council for Science and Technology. The awards of up to US$200 are aimed at encouraging researchers to contribute to the global body of knowledge.

Students at INSAT, the National Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology in Tunis, went on strike this month in protest against what they described as ‘dysfunctional administration’ that had damaged their education and extracurricular activities.

Lecturers in Cameroon have embarked on industrial action following a strike call earlier this month by the higher education union Synes, reported Quotidien Mutations. The principal cause of the stoppage is non-payment of a special research allocation.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Geoff Maslen

Australia’s university students and their predecessors now owe taxpayers A$28 billion (US$29.4 billion) – a direct result of taking out government loans over the past 23 years to cover much of the cost of their tuition. A report released last Monday says that more than $6 billion of the money owed is unlikely ever to be repaid and is increasing each year.
Ria Nurdiani

A graft watchdog in Indonesia has sounded a red alert for the education sector as it recorded some 40 cases of corruption in 2012, causing losses to the state of around Rp139 billion (US$14.4 million). A third of the country’s education budget was misappropriated.
Michael Gardner

Allegations of plagiarism in the doctoral thesis of Germany’s Education Minister Annette Schavan have sparked a dispute among academics, universities and science organisations. Meanwhile, undaunted by considerable pressure from various sides, the University of Düsseldorf has initiated formal proceedings against former student Schavan.
David Jobbins

The UK government has set up a new agency to support the expansion of education exports – including international student recruitment.
Makki Marseilles

One of the first priorities of the newly elected first president of the management council of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, distinguished professor of classical Greek studies at Cambridge University Professor Richard Hunter, will be to find realistic solutions to the institution’s severe financial problems.
Jan Petter Myklebust

When 2,500 global leaders met in Davos last week, one open agenda session asked – “Unemployed or Unemployable?” The discussants called for more flexibility in the transfer from higher education to work.
Patrick Boehler

Education professionals from Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand met in Hong Kong from 14-18 January to better understand how to improve the gathering and processing of data for more accurate planning for their education systems up to universities, under a UNESCO programme to promote education policy coordination in Asia.
Ameen Amjad Khan

A partnership programme in which the US government is sponsoring academic links between American and Pakistani universities was launched last Tuesday. The local universities are in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, an area badly hit by Pakistani Taliban terrorist attacks.
David Jobbins

British Prime Minister David Cameron has intervened to help a business management graduate, who has devised an automated application system for educational agents and international students, to approach the UK Border Agency at the right level.
Alecia D McKenzie

Higher education will be key as the world attempts to move to low-carbon energy systems, according to experts at a recent international conference.
Alison Moodie

For more than half a century, the GI Bill has helped send millions of American veterans into the workforce armed with a first-rate education. But recent changes to the law are threatening to make it harder and more expensive for veterans returning from today’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to benefit the same way their predecessors once did.
Grace Karram

The purpose of education as a social good needs to be revisited regularly, to avoid university funding decisions being based solely on return for money.
Craig Whitsed and Wendy Green

Internationalisation of the curriculum requires a sea change in the way universities measure success, which often excludes learning outcomes and the student experience. Universities are in danger of losing sight of their key stakeholders: undergraduate and non-research students.
Roger Y Chao Jr

A rethink of the university’s mission is needed in the wake of commerc-ialisation and internationalisation. The profit motive has become all-powerful, leading to a lowering of quality and to corruption of the ideal of the university as an agent for societal betterment.
Edwin Eisendrath and James DeVaney

American institutions may be better prepared than many think for the challenges of efficiency and competition and the need for innovative thinking. By harnessing technology and strategic thinking, they could transform the future of higher education.
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Plans to roll out a new system of rankings for Europe's universities, to encourage international comparison, will be outlined next week at a conference in Dublin, writes Ian Mundell for European Voice.

A division of the World Bank Group announced last week that it has invested US$150 million in Laureate Education Inc, giving the international development organisation a small stake in the Baltimore-based global higher education company, writes Steve Kilar for The Baltimore Sun.

In an unusual arrangement with a commercial company, dozens of public universities plan to offer an introductory online course free and for credit to anyone worldwide, in the hope that those who pass will pay tuition fees to complete a degree programme, writes Tamar Lewin for The New York Times.

A dozen educators met last month in Palo Alto, California, to discuss the future of higher education. They had been convened at the epicentre of technological innovation in higher education by Sebastian Thrun, a pioneer of massive open online courses, and yet the task at hand had nothing to do with software or strategy. It had to do with citizenship, writes Steve Kolowich for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The first batch of 60 undergraduates at the New College of the Humanities in Bloomsbury, London’s main university quarter, occupy a spacious Georgian house. The college’s founder is Anthony Grayling, a philosopher who wants to introduce a bit of diversity to a largely state-funded higher education system. This kind of disruptive innovation earns a mixed reception, reports The Economist.

By one, and only one, measure, institutions of higher education around the world are remarkably successful: they reach far more people today than ever before. By all other measures, however, the 4,500 institutions currently serving more than 21 million students in the US, and the 6,500 other institutions around the world, collectively deserve failing grades, writes Tim Laseter for Strategy + Business.

The majority of students currently enrolled at Korea’s prestigious universities such as Ewha Women’s University, Pohang University of Science and Technology and Korea University come from affluent families within the top 20% income bracket, statistics show, writes Park Soo-jin for The Hankyoreh.

While there’s a lot of chatter and pessimism about how the Great Recession changed the nature of US states’ relationships with their higher education institutions, this year’s Grapevine survey of state appropriations hints that the new normal might be more normal than new, writes Kevin Kiley for Inside Higher Ed.

For many years the idea of a university going bankrupt has seemed impossible. But senior academics are warning that some universities could easily go the way of HMV or Jessops – and leave a huge dent in the image of British higher education, writes Anna Fazackerley for the Guardian.

Academics have traditionally been seen as somewhat dusty, risk-averse people, not usually associated with rapid change or job-hopping for higher salaries. However, UK business schools have seen changes in recent years. Significant numbers of senior academics are moving between universities, and loyalty is becoming a thing of the past, writes John Colley for Financial Times.

Malaysia has been chosen as the venue for the first overseas branch campus of a top university in China, Xiamen University, reports Xinhua. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the branch campus would be built on a 61-hectare site at Salak Tinggi and was expected to be operational by September 2015.

De-politicisation of Chinese universities will be a tremendous undertaking, which will be difficult to achieve, said Zhu Qingshi, president of South University of Science and Technology of China, a newly established university that is pioneering comprehensive reforms, writes Chen Boyuan for

The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, a Cairo-based rights group, has filed a lawsuit in Egypt's administrative court against Prime Minister Hisham Qandil's recent approval of a charter for university students, writes Reem Gehad for Ahram Online.

University degrees are being ranked by officials according to their graduates’ earning potential. A Ministry of Education report, Moving On Up – What young people earn after their tertiary education, compares what graduates earn after studying different subjects and at different levels in New Zealand, writes Jody O’Callaghan for Fairfax NZ News.

The human resource crisis in the education sector has assumed a frightening dimension as Nigeria’s public university system is short of nearly 14,000 PhD-holders who are expected to impart knowledge to 1.2 million students, writes Tony Amokeodo for Leadership.

Makerere University has asked the government to lift a ban on recruiting staff, to enable it to ease an acute staff shortage, reports New Vision. Addressing a university graduation ceremony last Tuesday, Chancellor Mondo Kagonyera revealed that Makerere was operating at less than 50% staff structure, “which is unacceptable”.

The body representing Scotland’s university principals has attacked Scottish government plans to exert more control over the sector and introduce new powers to widen access to the poorest students, writes Chris Marshall for The Scotsman.

Malawi’s government will have to cough up more than K25 billion (US$71 million) to see through the opening of the Malawi University of Science and Technology, the brainchild of the late president Bingu wa Mutharika that was constructed at his home in Ndata, Thyolo district, writes Hudson Mphande for Nyasa Times.
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