|06 October 2013||Issue 0118||Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week||Advanced Search|
NEWSLETTERTeaching and learning – and corruption – in higher education in Africa
University World News publishes two special reports this week. One covers a major African higher education teaching and learning conference held in Durban, including articles by Nicola Jenvey. The other examines corruption in higher education, as highlighted by a global Transparency International report published last week, with articles by Wachira Kigotho in Kenya, David Chapman and Yojana Sharma.
In Africa Features, Sarah King Head reports on the opening of a first branch campus in Africa by America’s Webster University. In Kenya, Maina Waruru examines the hot competition for top students between thriving private universities, and in Nigeria Tunde Fatunde finds students switching to private institutions to escape a three-month strike by lecturers in public universities.
In Commentary, Matthew N Gaertner argues that using class-based indices to widen student access may offer an effective way to increase campus diversity following a clampdown in America on race-based affirmative action. Diana Beech contends that the European Research Area’s priorities must be governed by all stakeholders’ needs, not only commercial and political ones.
In World Blog, Grace Karram argues that the Canadian government should fund more doctoral students rather than upping support for the select few, as research has shown that PhDs who publish are more likely to graduate.
And in Global Features, Alya Mishra describes efforts in India to expand higher education provision to remote and conflict-affected regions, and Makki Marseilles charts the closing of eight major universities in Greece, after drastic civil service job cuts rendered them inoperable.
Karen MacGregor – Africa Editor
Kenya has lined up major projects in the coming year to boost student enrolment, teaching and research in higher education. They include setting up an open university by the end of next year, doubling the number of universities of technology, training 1,000 PhDs a year within five years, and pumping money into the national research fund.
Higher education in Tanzania is to be boosted by a campus of the South African-based African Institute for Mathematical Sciences. There are already top-notch AIMS institutes training talented African mathematicians in Cape Town, Senegal and Ghana.
Zimbabwe is to set up a gender commission that aims to ensure equity in all spheres of society – including higher education.
UKZN Teaching and learning conference
The 7th Annual Teaching and Learning Higher Education Conference was held at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban from 25-27 September, titled “Re-envisioning African Higher Education: Alternative paradigms, emerging trends and new directions”. Some 250 delegates attended, along with speakers from across Africa and the world. University World News was there.
Around the world, the massification of higher education has created more differentiated systems, more inequality among institutions – and more inequality within the academic profession – according to Professor Philip Altbach, director of the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College in the United States. For most academics, things have got worse.
Educationists must fight the groundswell that is converting higher education into a commodity, force ethics, morals and philosophy courses back into the limelight to forge more principled leaders, and reduce systematic class discrimination to promote a teaching culture – not one fussing about short-term contracts.
SOUTH AFRICAKaren MacGregor
Structural obstacles to improving graduation rates in South Africa, where half of all students drop out, cannot be tackled effectively without increasing the duration of programmes. A high-level investigation into the curriculum, which recently proposed introducing four-year degrees, has relevance for all societies with deep inequalities – especially in the developing world – according to Professor Ian Scott of the University of Cape Town.
The mathematics curriculum in higher education in Mozambique has not changed in decades and has failed to acknowledge African mathematicians’ influences in the science, according to Paulus Gerdes, director of the Ethnomathematics Research Centre and a maths professor at Universidade Pedagógica.
SOUTH AFRICANicola Jenvey
South African universities typically did not provide sufficient support for international students and were trapped by a discriminatory policy that differentiated between African students and those from the rest of the world, a study has found.
Digital technology provides both an innovative and an interactive means for higher education. But placed in students’ hands, laptops, cell phones and tablets can also be tools of distraction that potentially hinder learning, a new study has uncovered.
SOUTH AFRICANicola Jenvey
School-leaving results were poor indicators of first-year university performance and improving the performance of students required South Africa’s Department of Basic Education to equip scholars with competencies outlined in its policy documents – competencies currently not possessed by students entering higher education.
GLOBALSarah King Head
For West Africans, the reality of pursuing an American-style undergraduate or postgraduate degree close to home may be possible as early as January 2014. That is when Missouri-based Webster University plans to open the doors of its first African branch campus in Accra, the capital of Ghana.
Competition for students among private universities in Kenya is intensifying, with institutions taking to both the electronic and print media to advertise programmes and display achievements. The private higher education sector is thriving, and now enrols 20% of all students.
Nigeria has 100 public and 30 private universities. A strike by lecturers has paralysed public institutions for the past three months, while teaching at private universities has continued. As a result, there has been a rush by parents with financial muscle to register their children in private universities, whose proprietors are smiling all the way to the bank.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, has become the latest member of the African Virtual University, the pan-African intergovernmental organisation mandated to increase access to higher education through online and distance learning.
Global Corruption Report: Education
Transparency International published the Global Corruption Report: Education on 1 October, charting rising dishonesty in education worldwide. The report comprises more than 70 articles by experts in the field of corruption and education. University World News examines what it says about corruption and poor governance in higher education.
Transparency International’s global report on corruption in education shows how pressures of reduced funding, league tables and commerc ialisation have led to cases of corruption in universities. Codes of conduct can help, but the first step to counter corruption is to understand the nature of the threat such corruption brings.
S exual harassment and violence in educational institutions is an abuse of power by teachers and lecturers and corrupts the education system. It has other severe consequences such as leading to girls and women dropping out, according to Transparency International’s Global Corruption Report: Education released last week.
During the corruption trial in China of high-level official Bo Xilai this year, and of his wife Gu Kailai who was convicted last year of murdering a British businessman, much attention focused on the lavish lifestyle of their son Bo Guagua, who had been a student at expensive private school Harrow in England, and later studied at Oxford and Harvard.
Sub-Saharan Africa is consistently ranked by Transparency International as the most corrupt region in the world – with corruption leading to abuse of political power and failure in the delivery of basic services such as health care, sanitation and education. In higher education, corruption has not only raised costs but has also hindered socio-economic progress, according to the Global Corruption Report: Education.
University education in Africa is regarded as key to a better future, and has the potential to provide the tools that people need to improve livelihoods and live with dignity. But according to Transparency International, systemic corruption is eroding benefits that could be accrued from higher education.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
The erosion of the United States and United Kingdom's domination of global university league tables is continuing, according to analysts reviewing the 2013-14 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, out last week.
In the latest instalment of its ‘ERC goes global’ awareness campaign, the European Research Council has sent a delegation to New Zealand and Australia to inform top researchers there of grants it is prepared to award.
NEW ZEALANDJohn Gerritsen
New Zealand’s government has proposed a major overhaul of university council membership that would slash the number of members and remove a statutory right to representation for staff and students.
An altercation between government and opposition MPs ensued in Malaysia’s parliament last week when government officials appeared to brush off questions about the academic credentials of the ministers of human resources and of science, technology and innovation.
A leading German opposition politician has been accused of ‘lifting’ in his doctoral thesis. Social Democrat Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who ran for federal chancellor in 2009, denies the allegations.
UNITED STATESMegan O’Neil, The Chronicle of Higher Education
The budget impasse in the United States that brought non-essential operations of the federal government to a halt last Tuesday also had a major impact on websites used by many educators, researchers and students.
UNITED KINGDOMDavid Jobbins
England’s elite universities are tending to back away from part-time degree courses in favour of attracting 'high-achieving' full-time students they can recruit outside controls on numbers, the authoritative Higher Education Policy Institute concludes in a report published last Thursday.
A landmark Vilnius Declaration, expected to help shape the future of European research policy, was handed to Lithuania's Minister of Education and Science Dainius Pavalkis at the conclusion of an international conference on “Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities” last month.
For the first time in 20 years – with violence at its peak in the last two decades – students in colleges and departments of the University of Kashmir have been able to take up summer placements at companies that came to the campus to recruit.
The gates of the University of Athens – established in 1837 by Otto of Bavaria, the first king of Greece after the 1821 revolution – will remain closed for the first time in its peacetime history. The institution recently declared its inability to continue operating as a result of drastic government staff cuts and policies that have led to "the subversion and marginalisation of higher education”. At least seven other major Greek universities have since closed.
Autumn is the deadline for applications for research grants in Canada. But since research shows higher completion rates in general for students who publish, governments might do better to fund more PhDs rather than boosting the amount of funding it gives to a select few.
UNITED STATESMatthew N Gaertner
Using class-based indices as a measure to widen access may be a way of increasing diversity at universities and colleges facing a clampdown on race-based affirmative action. Research shows that students from poorer backgrounds who perform better than those from similar backgrounds at school level do better at university than the average undergraduate.
The need for the European Research Area has never been greater, given the current economic situation. But it is vital that the ERA’s priorities are governed by all stakeholders’ needs – and not just commercial and political ones.
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Suspected Islamic extremists attacked an agricultural college in the dead of night, gunning down dozens of students as they slept in dormitories and torching classrooms, the college provost said – this is the latest violence in north-eastern Nigeria's ongoing Islamic uprising, write Adamu Adamu and Michelle Faul for The Associated Press.
Rival groups of students, some armed with guns and Molotov cocktails, clashed across Egypt last Sunday, state media and security sources said, as violence triggered by the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi spread to universities, reports Reuters. At least 29 people were wounded in fighting between groups for and against the ousted Islamist leader on at least three campuses.
Students in Britain are receiving a “less demanding” experience than those in other European countries, raising serious questions over university standards, it is claimed. Workload is believed to be around a quarter less than the average recommended by the higher education watchdog, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.
US colleges and universities are guilty of promoting “white racial privilege”, according to a report produced by Georgetown University and funded, in part, by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, writes Timothy Dionisopoulos for Campus Reform.
Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng is set to join the conservative Witherspoon Institute in New Jersey following his departure from New York University, which he says forced him to leave because of pressure from the Chinese government, writes Stoyan Zaimov for The Christian Post.
A Chinese spec ialist in Sino-Japanese affairs who has been living in Japan appears to have been detained by the Chinese government since late July and is being questioned about his activities, according to Chinese academics and a Japanese newspaper, writes Jane Perlez for The New York Times.
Claims that nearly 40% of academic staff at La Trobe University have been research inactive for six years or more are indicative of a wider malaise and not confined to that institution, according to a leading commentator, writes Andrew Trounson for The Australian.
Universities have spent an average of nearly €2.7 million (US$3.7 million) a year on external legal fees since 2006 with up to two thirds going towards resolving staff disputes, writes Niall Murray for the Irish Examiner.
AFGHANISTANThe Washington Post.
An MP close to David Willetts has admitted defeat on hopes to withdraw students from net migration figures in the near future, writes John Morgan for Times Higher Education. Paul Uppal, parliamentary private secretary to David Willetts, the UK universities and science minister, spoke at a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference last week.
Universities were guilty in the past of “extracting money” from business school students without giving them good quality teaching. That is the view of David Willetts, the universities and science minister, who made the comments during a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference as he launched a charter for business schools that help small businesses and start-ups, writes John Morgan for Times Higher Education.
The percentage of borrowers who defaulted on federal student loans within two years of starting repayment has increased for the sixth year in a row, while the rate for defaults measured over a three-year period rose by a similar amount, according to figures released by the US Department of Education, writes Andy Thomason for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
If American universities are to survive what's happening to the country, many brave, sound judgments will have to be made by faculty and administrators, often working together, but often by challenging one another, writes Jim Sleeper for Huffington Post.
NEW ZEALANDONE News.
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