University World News Africa Edition
9 April 2017 Issue 194 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


‘It’s time for African governments to end their inertia towards research’

   In a mini special report, Francis Kokutse reports on the international launch conference of the African Research Universities Alliance, which took place earlier this month in Ghana.

   In Africa Features, Stephen Coan examines the role of private tertiary education in South Africa, while Tunde Fatunde reports on calls by university leaders for reform of the higher education sector in Nigeria.

   In Africa Analysis, Elísio Macamo writes about the need among African scholars to grapple with conceptual as much as practical problems.

   In Africa News, Ashraf Khaled reports on controversial calls for a campus dress code in Egypt; Laeed Zaghlami writes about ministry changes in Algeria intended to speed up the rate at which students complete their PhDs; and Tonderayi Mukeredzi outlines ambitious plans by the University of Zimbabwe to become a top African university.

   Covering the 2017 WorldViews Lecture on Media and Higher Education, Daniel Sekulich reports on Sir Peter Scott’s view that the rise of populism has created a wake-up call for academics that they should speak up more loudly for open societies and recover a sense of social purpose.

   You are invited to register for the upcoming topical free webinar on “International Student Mobility Trends: Shifting recruitment priorities and strategies”, to be held this Wednesday 12 April, hosted by University World News in partnership with DrEducation and StudyPortals.

Sharon Dell – Africa Editor



Call for campus dress code triggers mixed responses

Ashraf Khaled

A call by Egyptian parliamentarians to enforce a dress code on university campuses has received mixed responses in the Middle Eastern country.


University of Zimbabwe guns for top-10 status in Africa

Tonderayi Mukeredzi

Zimbabwe’s flagship university has set its sights on being one of the top 10 universities on the African continent by the year 2020, according to its vice-chancellor. Students are less sanguine about its prospects, however.


Ministry imposes tougher rules on PhD students

Laeed Zaghlami

The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research has announced strict new rules for doctoral students who fail to submit their theses in the requisite four years after ministry figures revealed that over 1,000 PhD projects were outstanding – some for up to nine years.


UAE ranks three universities in top-10 subject lists

Munyaradzi Makoni

Three South African universities have made it onto the score sheets of the inaugural subjects ranking of the Center for World University Rankings, published earlier this month.


New programme offers support to postdoctoral scientists

Sam Otieno

African universities are set to benefit from a new US$2 million programme which will train postdoctoral researchers to support globally competitive research aimed at the creation of knowledge-based economies on the continent.


Ministry demands greater accountability from universities

Jackie Opara

The government has introduced new accountability measures for Nigerian universities following corruption allegations against vice-chancellors of some of the country’s universities, allegations that have already prompted the suspension of discretionary funding from government.


Science partnership to support SDG urbanisation research

Kudzai Mashininga

The International Council for Science, in partnership with the International Social Science Council and the Network of African Science Academies, has announced that it will support 10 collaborative research projects across Africa to the value of €90,000 (US$96,000) each over two years.


ADEA triennale agrees to revitalisation of education

Jane Marshall

Representatives from 28 African countries pledged to revitalise and transform their education systems for growth and sustainable development on the continent, at the 2017 Triennale of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa, or ADEA.



Facing up to the challenge of scholarship in Africa

Elísio Macamo

Decolonising the mind – and the university – requires African scholars not to reject Western thinkers like Kant and Hegel but to go beyond them and push the frontiers of knowledge further.


The African Research Universities Alliance, or ARUA, a unique network of 16 top African universities, was created in 2015 to grow the continent’s contribution to global research and raise the profile of its research globally. The alliance was officially launched at the international launch conference held at the University of Ghana in Accra from 3-4 April under the theme “Research in Africa Rising”.


Call to end government research investment ‘inertia’

Francis Kokutse

African governments need to invest heavily in research in order to provide solutions to improve the lives of its people, Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said at the recent launch of the African Research Universities Alliance.


The changing face of social sciences and the liberal arts

Francis Kokutse

The days of stand-alone disciplines in academia are over, as liberal arts subjects are being integrated into other areas of study in higher education institutions in order to focus on development issues, according to Tayo Adesina of the University of Ibadan’s history department.



Private higher education – Competitive or complementary?

Stephen Coan

The instability of the South Africa tertiary education sector, due largely to the student-led #FeesMustFall protest movement as well as quality issues, has seen the role of private universities thrown into stark relief, dubbed either, as one commentator put it, “an escape hatch for the very rich” or competition out to steal students from public institutions.


University chiefs call for reforms in ‘decaying’ sector

Tunde Fatunde

Greater university autonomy, credible appointments to governing councils, integrity tests for prospective vice-chancellors, and a holistic overhaul to stem systemic decay topped the list of recommendations contained in a strongly-worded statement released at the close of the recent third biennial conference of the Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities.


Ministry sees value in international students

Wagdy Sawahel

While international students studying in Egypt currently generate US$186 million for the Egyptian economy, this figure is low by international standards. An ambitious government plan aims to double the number of international students by 2020-21 and increase their contribution to the country by as much as US$700 million.



Private higher education institutions set up association

Promoters of private higher education institutions in Cameroon have set up an association to support and represent the sector.


Students protest over switch from study grants to loans

Two students were arrested in protests against government measures to change study grants into loans.

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report


Second university ranking adds new overall category

Ranjit Devraj and Yojana Sharma

India’s second annual round of ranking of its universities and other higher education institutions released last week includes a new overall category, looking at institutions across all disciplines. The Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore came top.


MPs pass law that threatens to close top university

Brendan O'Malley

The Hungarian parliament has passed a controversial amendment to its national law on higher education, changing the regulations for foreign universities, which threatens the continuing operation of the country’s leading university, the Central European University, founded by billionaire George Soros.


Hungarian HE law change criticised by German ministry

Michael Gardner

Germany’s Federal Foreign Office has sharply criticised Hungary’s higher education law amendment, which changes the regulation of foreign universities, maintaining that it restricts academic freedom. It also said it is "incomprehensible" that the activities of the Central European University should be restricted.


Police prosecute pro-democracy students and scholars

Yojana Sharma

Nine academics, former student leaders, former and current legislators involved in the 2014-15 pro-democracy protests are facing criminal prosecution, launched a day after Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s new chief executive, was elected on 26 March by a mainly pro-Beijing 1,194-member electoral college. More than 200 academics from universities in Hong Kong and abroad have criticised the move.


State attorney seeks life sentence for leading scholar

Brendan O'Malley

A prominent academic who has been detained for more than eight months will appear in court on Monday facing charges related to the failed coup attempt last July. He says the state attorney has asked for a life sentence penalty and he fears for his life if the death penalty is re-legalised.


Court rules that half of US student's fee must be repaid

Jan Petter Myklebust

The Court of Appeal has endorsed the verdict in the lower court that Mälardalen University College has to repay tuition fees paid by an international student for a course that was found not to be of sufficient quality – but only half of the fees – plus court costs.


Professor allowed to leave after being questioned

Yojana Sharma

A Chinese academic barred from returning to his home in Australia after a research trip looking into China’s crackdown on its human rights lawyers, has been allowed to return to Sydney after a week of being prevented from boarding a flight home. Feng Chongyi said on his return he would continue his work in China.


Cut in study places aimed at culling EU student intake

Jan Petter Myklebust

The Minister for Higher Education and Science, Søren Pind, has decided to cut the intake of business academies and professional universities for higher education courses by a quarter – a cut of 1,600 study places. The impact will be to reduce the number of European Union students claiming support grants, which has risen steeply.



Is China the new lodestar for Africa’s students?

Ross Anthony

China is aggressively competing to raise its universities’ international rankings and attract international students. African institutions increasingly hold degrees from China in legitimate esteem. Is this the start of a new world order?


Can autocracies cope with international universities?

Ararat Osipian

The attack on Hungary’s Central European University is not the only attempt by autocratic leaders in Eastern European to crack down on international universities that do not suffer from the same corruption as their local counterparts. Legal pretexts have been found to enforce political conformity on the European University at St Petersburg.


Marching for science and its importance for democracy

Emmanuelle Perez Tisserant and Philippe Dagneaux

French scientists will mobilise alongside others around the world on 22 April to stand up for the values of critical thinking and analysis, which are under threat from politicians such as United States President Donald Trump, and rally all those who spread knowledge throughout society – from scientists to teachers and journalists – to strengthen mutual dialogue.


The importance of universities not being American

Neal Koblitz

No foreign power should be allowed to dominate Vietnam's academic world. For Vietnam’s integrity and national security, it needs to have its own universities that contribute to and provide guidance on following an independent path free of neocolonial domination.



Seeking globally mobile students in a world in turmoil

The United Kingdom and United States are set on a path to creating more barriers to attracting and retaining international students. The two largest source countries of international students – China and India – have experienced economic changes that have decelerated the ambitions and ability of students to go abroad. What strategic options are higher education institutions considering in response to this turbulence?



Revolutions ahead in international student mobility

Philip G Altbach and Hans de Wit

A great shake-up is taking place in the world of international higher education as a result of the political changes sweeping the United States and United Kingdom and rising xenophobia in Europe. There are a number of potential winners and losers, but until the dust settles it is all to play for.


The European University Association or EUA 2017 Annual Conference, with the theme “Autonomy and Freedom: The future sustainability of universities”, was hosted by the University of Bergen in Norway on 6-7 April, and discussed how autonomy and freedom of universities can be linked to address the current political, economic and societal challenges in Europe.


Why university autonomy matters more than ever

Thomas Estermann

At a time of great political uncertainty and amid a growing tendency for governments to interfere, university autonomy is more important than ever. A new tool aims to provide a balanced view of autonomy levels across Europe.


Academic freedom – Heart of the higher education project

Alexandra Antonescu and Lea Meister

Universities face numerous threats to academic freedom in an era of ‘alternative facts’ and clampdowns on student protests. We must renew our dedication to their mission of independent inquiry and preparing critical thinkers.



China takes on Hollywood with film studies tie-ups

Yojana Sharma

A rise in film studies collaborations between Chinese institutions and universities in Britain, America and Europe is part of China’s policy to become a post-manufacturing economy. The partnerships will help develop a skills base for a rising ‘Hollywood of the East’ in and around Shanghai.


Digital records to tackle fake qualifications

Ranjit Devraj

The Indian government is planning to digitise academic records as part of a drive against fake degrees and institutions at a time when companies are complaining of rising fraudulent qualification claims and prominent public figures are being challenged to prove that they are entitled to the degrees and qualifications they claim to have.



Rise of populism is a wake-up call for universities

Daniel Sekulich

Sir Peter Scott, in the 2017 WorldViews Lecture on Media and Higher Education, said that the rising tide of populism seen in the triumph of Brexit voters and President Donald Trump has sent academics a warning that they should speak up more loudly for open societies, but also recover that sense of social purpose that universities are in danger of losing.


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All universities commit to releasing sexual assault data

Every one of Australia's universities has committed to simultaneously releasing data on sexual assaults on their campuses after concerns were raised about a landmark survey of 39,000 students that would not reveal how many assaults had occurred at each institution, writes Eryk Bagshaw for The Sydney Morning Herald.


Top university to open in Oxford

One of China’s top universities is preparing to open a campus at the heart of British academic life, just months after President Xi Jinping called for Chinese universities to be transformed into strongholds of Communist Party rule, writes Tom Phillips for the Guardian.


Think tank calls for autonomy for science institutes

The government think tank NITI Aayog is preparing a cabinet note on providing autonomy to science institutes so that they have a free hand in undertaking research and inducting experts at market salaries, reports Press Trust of India.


Universities support legal challenge to Trump travel ban

A group of 31 US colleges and universities is supporting a legal challenge to President Donald Trump’s restrictions on travel to the United States by refugees and visitors from certain Muslim-majority countries, asserting the executive order would harm their efforts to provide quality education and promote the free exchange of ideas, writes Amanda Scott for Voice of America.


University ups security after alleged army attack

Midlands State University in Gweru has intensified security at its campuses following an attack on students at the main campus by soldiers last month, reports New


Industry-academic alliance to combat ‘fake news’

A global alliance of tech industry and academic organisations last week unveiled plans to work together to combat the spread of ‘fake news’ and improve public understanding of journalism, reports AFP.


Report exposes university chiefs’ credit card use

A secret report by Ernst & Young into credit card use at Murdoch University has revealed its four most senior academics racked up almost AU$1 million (US$753,000) in expenses in two years and former vice-chancellor Richard Higgott spent an average of AU$1,800 a month on limousine rides, writes Andrew Burrell for The Australian.


Academic union calls for action on university funding

The Academic Staff Union of Universities has called on the National Assembly to address the issue of low funding of the education sector in the country, reports the News Agency of Nigeria.


High profile figures claim free speech under threat

An Auckland university professor has written an open letter rejecting the "forceful silencing of dissenting or unpopular views" on university campuses, reports the New Zealand Herald.


Higher education is reinforcing Kosovo's ethnic divide

As well as being affected by corruption, political collusion and poor levels of performance, universities in Kosovo also remain ethnically separated. Despite major international efforts, this separation has deepened since hostilities in Kosovo ended, although the topic remains largely absent from public debate, writes Ervjola Selenica for Balkan Insight.


Will tuition ruling impede American University of Cairo?

Egypt’s Administrative Court has ordered the administration of the American University in Cairo to accept tuition payment in Egyptian pounds rather than US dollars, raising fears of a decline in standards linked to reduced funding, writes Amr Eltohamy for Al-Monitor.


Bid to introduce student tuition fees finds resistance

A proposal by the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy to allow higher education institutions to introduce tuition fees for students from Finland and the rest of the European Economic Area has been met with resistance from the ranks of the Finnish government, writes Aleksi Teivainen for Helsinki Times.


University marks second anniversary since terror attack

Garissa University College recently marked two years since a terrorist attack on the institution that left 142 students dead. Unlike last year's ceremony, which was attended by local political leaders, this event was a low-key affair graced by students and a handful of people, most of them college staff, writes Philip Muasya for the Standard.


Toyota and universities team up to study car batteries

Toyota plans to spend US$35 million on partnerships with several universities, including Stanford University, to study ways to make better batteries for electric vehicles, writes Brent Snavely for the Los Angeles Times.


University caught up in year-long naming dispute

Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences in Norway wants to become a full-fledged university, but if its pending application were to be approved, the institution does not yet know what it would be called, writes Carl Straumsheim for Inside Higher Ed.


Students told to use 'gender-sensitive' language

Students at the University of Hull are being told to use gender neutral language in their essays – or risk losing marks, writes Olivia Rudgard for The Telegraph.

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