University World News Africa Edition
09 February 2014 Issue 125 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Is global collaboration undermining the evolution of research in Africa?

In Africa Features, Sharon Dell outlines the findings of a study into Africa’s international scientific collaboration that suggests heavy reliance on co-authorship may be stifling research. Munyaradzi Makoni outlines a report by the Global Young Academy that found funding, resource and support obstacles hindering the careers of young researchers worldwide – including in Africa.
In the latest article in our series “Thoughts and experiences of African university leaders”, Sheldon G Weeks interviews Patrick Molutsi, founding head of Botswana’s Tertiary Education Council. In the second of two Special Reports we look at a study of science granting councils in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In Commentary, Yves Gingras argues that international rankings of universities may be encouraging practices that are tantamount to academic fraud, and Richard Garrett writes that inclusion of online learning in a United States government database could mean it has finally come of age.
Darren J McDermott finds higher education institutions in Thailand leading the way in Southeast Asia by forging ahead with regional integration and mobility. And in World Blog, Grace Karram investigates ways of measuring student success, and suggests involving students in these processes.
In Global Features, Nic Mitchell describes major changes to higher education in Lithuania as the country battles to stem the brain drain and improve quality and relevance, and Alya Mishra looks at concerns in India about a growing mismatch between graduate skills and the needs of the job market.
Karen MacGregor – Africa Editor
Tunde Fatunde

Nigeria’s government has allocated 10.7% of this year’s total budget to education, up from 8.7% last year. The recent six-month strike by academics in public universities is seen as largely responsible for the phenomenal hike – the first time that the central government has summoned up the political courage to provide such high funding for the education sector.
Méabh Mc Mahon

With the deadline for the UNESCO 'Education for All' goals now just two years away, a consensus is emerging that post-2015 global efforts to expand education should focus on the tertiary sector.
Wagdy Sawahel

Countries in the Middle East and North Africa are planning to set up an inter-university collaborative platform in an attempt to strengthen the capacity of higher education managers and reinforce partnerships among universities.
Wagdy Sawahel

Tunisia is planning to set up a science and business city including a ‘world university’ as part of its efforts to tackle higher education challenges, stem the brain drain, boost university-industry linkage and fight graduate unemployment.
Gilbert Nganga

Kenya has upped the ante on marine research with the launch of a vessel in the Indian Ocean. The Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute will deploy the 56-metre RV Zeeleeuw to undertake research in a bid to stem the loss of at least US$117 million a year in illegal and unregulated fishing.
Munyaradzi Makoni

The University of the Witwatersrand will from this year host five new chairs in the areas of migration, diversity and health under the prestigious South African Research Chairs Initiative.
Sharon Dell

Africa’s heavy dependency on international scientific collaboration may be stifling research individualism and affecting the continent’s research evolution and priorities, according to recent research.
Munyaradzi Makoni

Early career scientists have the intellectual ability needed to develop strong national research and innovation systems, but funding shortages and lack of resources and support are major obstacles hindering their careers, says a report by the Global Young Academy.
SERIES: African university leaders
Sheldon G Weeks

Dr Patrick Molutsi is founding head of Botswana’s Tertiary Education Council in the capital Gaborone. When he began working at the council in 2003, he was the only person there. Today there are 60 staff spread across several departments and the organisation is central in guiding a rapidly expanding tertiary education sector and public university arena.
Science funding councils in Africa
A major study of science granting councils in Sub-Saharan Africa was undertaken by the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology – CREST – at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre. A consultative conference was held late last year, and University World News was there. This is the final of two Special Reports on the project.
Karen MacGregor

There is a crying need for coordination of science councils across Africa – at the national, regional, continental and international levels – participants at a conference of the Science Granting Councils in Sub-Saharan Africa project agreed. They called for better understanding of funding flows and relationships between research, development and national priorities.
Karen MacGregor

Collaboration between the ‘silos’ that are science councils can be demanding and requires a spirit of engagement that often goes beyond understanding the problems they face, according to Dr Stephen McGurk, vice-president of the programme and partnership branch of the International Development Research Centre.

As the most populous country in Africa, with nearly 175 million people, Nigeria has the potential to become a powerhouse in science and technology as well as research and development. Yet compared with global trends, the country is lagging badly.

Ethiopia illustrates the influence of international funding on a relatively small research system, according to a report on science funding in the country. Most support for research in universities has come from outside sources, especially the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Alya Mishra

Migration within India for higher education risks creating a ‘brain drain’ within the country that could perpetuate regional economic imbalances despite rising education levels overall, a study for the United Nations agency for human settlement has found.
Jan Petter Myklebust

The League of European Research Universities has published an ‘advice paper’ on Good Practice Elements in Doctoral Training. It informs the academic part of research training and is a repository of good ideas and practices by some of Europe’s leading PhD training institutions.
Alecia D McKenzie

An alliance between France’s Université Paris-Dauphine and Singapore Management University is the latest move by a French university to link up with Asian counterparts and build an international research alliance.
Jan Petter Myklebust

The number of European citizens eligible for Danish student loans and grants soared tenfold from 2012-13 following a European Court of Justice decision against Denmark in the ‘LN’ case in February last year. The court ruled that European Union citizens should have the right to student support if they had worked in Denmark.
Geoff Maslen

Researchers around the world who publish papers in peer-reviewed journals often have to delete details of the various methods they used to generate the results of their experiments. Now a publisher is offering a lifeline: an open access, online journal that will publish the methods or lab results and allow researchers to receive public credit and citations.
Rebecca Warden

A new report out later this month takes a critical look at how universities around the world are contributing to driving social change. Knowledge, Engagement and Higher Education: Contributing to social change is the fifth in the Higher Education in the World series produced by the Global University Network for Innovation.
Nic Mitchell

Plans for a major shake-up of higher education are underway as Lithuania struggles to stem the tide of talent leaving the Baltic state to study and work abroad. The ‘brain drain’ is a common factor for many ‘newer’ European Union states as students take advantage of the free movement of labour and move to countries offering better job prospects.
Alya Mishra

Shock reports have revealed a vast skills gap in India, with several surveys suggesting that half of all graduates are not employable in any sector based on industry standards. This has sparked growing concern about the mismatch between universities and the needs of the job market.
Megan O’Neil, The Chronicle of Higher Education

One hundred and fifty applicants for 30 spots. That was the target as business school administrators at the University of Texas at Austin laid the groundwork for a new masters programme in business analytics. This past autumn, they welcomed the inaugural class: 52 students selected from more than 400 applicants. One-year revenue from the self-funded programme is projected to total about US$1.7 million.
Grace Karram

Involving students in measuring the success of higher education programmes is key to understanding the complexity of what constitutes 'student success'. Current measurement tools are not adequate to show the nuances of what makes students enjoy and complete a course.
Yves Gingras

International rankings of higher education institutions have produced perverse effects, including practices that may be tantamount to academic fraud.
Richard Garrett

A United States federal government database is now including information on online learning, suggesting that it has finally come of age. The data show significant challenges for institutions seeking to develop an online presence that truly stands out and brings in more than local students.
Darren J McDermott

Thailand is in the news for political problems, but quietly Thai higher education institutions have been forging ahead to promote greater regional integration and mobility, with support from the European Union. The AIMS programme promoting student mobility has drawn wide attention.

An international team of researchers has found that males 'trade' investment in weapons for testes when they are sure that females will not fool around with other males when their back is turned. The researchers studied more than 300 species from parasitic worms to gorillas and found that the males’ ability to monopolise a female for continued mating arose from the way they evolved.

We may not spend a lot of time thinking about the emoticons we insert into our emails and text messages, but it turns out that they reveal something interesting about the way we perceive facial expressions, writes Dr Owen Churches, a postdoctoral fellow in psychology at Flinders University in South Australia.
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French President François Hollande last week promised to spare the research and higher education budget from savings of €50 billion (US$67 billion) that his government has pledged to find over the next three years to rein in its massive public deficit, reports Nature.

“Universities should be free for making statements and criticising…These are the places where people should think globally and act nationally." Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani made the remarks, reported by Iranian state IRINN TV, while addressing heads of Iranian universities in Tehran, report Umid Niayesh and Saeed Isayev for Trend.

As I diligently followed the 2012 protest and government reactions, I challenged a colleague to a bet. I suggested that by December 2013 there would be ‘new and updated’ campus regulations affecting both students and academics. It was a close call, since on 29 January the Official Gazette announced that the YÖK – the higher education board – had updated the 1982 regulations for all university personnel, writes Pinar Tremblay for Al-Monitor.

Britain’s grading system is broken. At least, that’s what critics are saying about the 200-year-old tradition of classifying undergraduate degrees into five categories, from first class to fail. In an attempt to improve the system, 21 universities started to experiment in November with an American-style grade-point average, writes Lucy Hodges for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Virtual assistants, flipped classrooms and the ‘quantified self’ are three of the six technological developments that will have a significant impact on higher education within the next five years, according to the NMC Horizon Report: 2014 higher education edition, released by the New Media Consortium and Educause, writes David Nagel for Campus Technology.

Not enough is being done to allay the fears of education professionals who see developments in education technology as intimidating, the chancellor of the Open University has warned, writes Josie Gurney-Read for The Telegraph.

The Ateneo de Manila University and the University of the Philippines last week announced that they were shifting their academic calendars from August to May, aligning their schedule with overseas partners and ensuring that graduates would have a global outlook, reports GMA News.

Scotland’s universities are spending a smaller proportion of their money on staff costs despite seeing their overall income rise to £3 billion (US$4.9 billion) last year, according to a new report, writes Chris Marshall for The Scotsman.

The proportion of British 18-year-olds applying to university has reached its highest-ever level, according to figures for undergraduate applications in 2014 – thanks to a surge in applications from London and among women, write Richard Adams and Libby Page for the Guardian.

Researchers in Wales are performing above the UK average and productivity is better than most countries of a similar size, according to a new report published last week, reports Wales Online.

Half of the students in South Africa who qualify for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme will not be funded because of a shortage of money. The scheme’s CEO Msulwa Daca told parliament’s standing committee on appropriations that despite funding increasing significantly over the past five years, it still fell short, writes Bekezela Phakathi for Business Day.

Historically black colleges and universities once held a monopoly. Today they struggle to compete with elite colleges that have stepped up recruiting for the best and brightest black students. Last week Howard University announced that it was cutting about 200 staff positions, writes Charlayne Hunter-Gault for The New York Times.
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