University World News Africa Edition
2 July 2017 Issue 200 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


Success of Africa Centres of Excellence model may draw further funding

   In Africa News, Munyaradzi Makoni interviews World Bank lead economist Andreas Blom about the positive outcomes of the first phase of the Africa Centres of Excellence project based in West and Central Africa – outcomes which may result in further funding for the project; Tonderayi Mukeredzi and Kudzai Mashininga report on a week of drama at the University of Zimbabwe where nearly 600 medical students returned to their residences after a high court order overturned their eviction by university authorities following a strike over fees; and Maina Waruru writes about the involvement of Kenyan academics in August’s general elections.

   In Africa Analysis, Sanna Ojanperä and Mark Graham discuss their recent research which suggests that increasing internet connectivity on the African continent, while important, is not enough to boost Africa’s position in the knowledge economy; and Mukwanason A Hyuha writes about the need to modernise Uganda’s once highly admired higher education sector.

   In Africa Features, Wagdy Sawahel reports on the new Africa Initiative for Planetary and Space Sciences, which aims to strengthen teaching, research and investment in the field of planetary and space sciences on the continent.

Sharon Dell – Africa Editor



Centres of Excellence project – ‘A model that works’

Munyaradzi Makoni

A mid-term review shows that the first phase of the World Bank-funded Africa Centres of Excellence project focused on West and Central Africa is on track and has achieved significant improvement in universities’ training programmes, with strong indications that the project might be considered for further funding.


‘Brutalised’ medical students return to residences

Tonderayi Mukeredzi and Kudzai Mashininga

Hundreds of University of Zimbabwe medical students were allowed to return to their halls of residence on Friday after a high court judge overturned their eviction by university authorities earlier in the week, in a move widely condemned by human rights organisations and political opposition parties.


Academics emerge as key players in upcoming elections

Maina Waruru

As Kenya goes to the polls in August this year, university lecturers are playing central roles in the heated electoral process.


Raft of measures aimed at improving scientific research

Laeed Zaghlami

Growing concern over the quality of higher education in Algeria has prompted the new government to adopt a series of measures aimed at improving the national higher education system and enhancing scientific research.


Higher education loans agency faces uncertain times

Gilbert Nganga

Kenya’s Higher Education Loans Board, the agency that disburses loans to students on behalf of the government, is likely to face significant cash flow problems in the coming years, the country’s auditor general has warned, citing poor chances of recovering over US$85 million (KES8.8 billion) in non-performing loans.


President intervenes in ongoing lecturer strike

Kudzai Mashininga

Malawian President Peter Mutharika has dissolved the University of Malawi’s council and announced the formation of a taskforce in the face of mounting anger over the council’s failure to resolve a lecturers’ strike.



Continent risks fading from digital knowledge economy

Sanna Ojanperä and Mark Graham

The rapid growth of internet use on the African continent has sparked hopes for the democratisation of knowledge production, but recent research suggests that connectivity is not enough to boost Africa’s position in the knowledge economy.


Reversing the decline in higher education

Mukwanason A Hyuha

In order to regain its standing, Uganda’s higher education sector needs to be modernised. It also needs much better funding.



Continent-wide space sciences initiative gathers support

Wagdy Sawahel

A group of researchers is proposing a 20-year continent-wide push to strengthen teaching, research and innovation in the field of planetary and space sciences in Africa, where research in the field remains scattered and underfunded.


Producing the right kind of student – A moral imperative

Sharon Dell

The creation of jobs for young people was as much a moral imperative as it was an economic imperative, according to Durban University of Technology Vice-Chancellor Thandwa Mthembu. In an interview with University World News, he called on universities to “think differently” about the kind of education they were giving their students. “What’s the value of a degree that can’t be used?” he asked.



Building capacity among research and innovation managers

Munyaradzi Makoni

The Southern African Research and Innovation Management Association has gone a long way to creating a community of practice for research managers and innovation managers in public and private sectors in Southern Africa. At last month’s biennial conference in Namibia, the association elected a new president. Jacqueline Barnett spoke to University World News about how much the organisation has already achieved in resource-constrained contexts.



Academics condemn violence after lecturer’s murder

The murder of university teacher Bachir Sarhane Karaoui has led to calls from academics for universities to be protected and for the government to restore stability.


Academic calls for more vision in research agenda

Funding is not the only requirement for a good national research programme, according to a University of Mauritius academic.


Students hit by suspension of ‘sub-standard’ universities

Thousands of students have been hit by the total or partial closure since March of 10 private universities which failed to meet satisfactory standards of teaching.

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


Commissioner urges huge expansion of EU research

Jan Petter Myklebust

European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen favours a significant expansion of the European Union’s research budget for 2021-28, he told the Science Business Network conference in Brussels on 27 June, suggesting that a 50% increase to €120 billion (US$137 billion) would be a “good target”.


Travel ban ruling offers universities temporary relief

Mary Beth Marklein

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that President Donald Trump’s second order banning entry from six majority-Muslim countries can be partially implemented, but not in the case of international students admitted to US universities and academics invited to lecture on their campuses.


World-class universities plan has caste action flaw

Ranjit Devraj

Ministers have to rethink the plan to elevate 20 top universities to ‘world-class institutions’, because it runs afoul of the country’s affirmative action policy, under which half of university places must be reserved for students from socially ‘backward classes’ and castes.


US dominates, China second in Shanghai subject rankings

Brendan O’Malley

United States universities took 32 top positions out of 52 in this year’s ShanghaiRanking’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects, followed by China with eight, the Netherlands with five and the United Kingdom with three. The top institution was Harvard University with 15 top spots, while Massachusetts Institute of Technology landed five.


Universities look for upside of Trump and Brexit effect

Mary Beth Marklein

International educators in the United States and Europe appear to be moving beyond the twin shocks of last year’s Brexit vote and a Donald Trump presidency and are now engaging in some soul-searching as they enter the recovery stage.


Government seizes control of private teaching hospital

Dinesh De Alwis

The government has approved a proposal made by the higher education and health ministers to take over a leading private medical teaching hospital following violent clashes involving protesters who are demanding it be closed down.



The digital future of European student cards

Sven Engel

Information technology experts across the continent recently came together to discuss the development of a student card that can be used across Europe, allowing students to use services and move more freely and seamlessly across borders and across institutional frameworks.


Questioning the status quo

David Atkinson

Innovation is important in higher education, but in seeking to adapt to changing demands for higher education we need to re-examine our basic structures that have over time become too rigid.


Is Trump driving Canada’s rising internationalisation?

Creso Sá

Canada has been seen as ‘a beacon of liberalism’ in the past year, due to its openness to the world at a time of rising xenophobia in the United States and United Kingdom, but its rise in international student numbers are more likely linked to longer term trends.


The drive to control and Islamise universities

Saeid Golkar

Iran has undergone two Cultural Revolutions with moves made during each to control and Islamise the universities – despite the detrimental impact on the quality of higher education – but so far the state has not been successful in creating an Islamic university.



Creating an Erasmus-style mobility scheme for ASEAN?

Caroline Chipperfield

Can Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN countries learn from Erasmus and develop their own student mobility scheme that takes the best from Erasmus but tailors it to the ASEAN context? Of particular value would be the uplift in life chances that Erasmus gives to students from disadvantaged backgrounds.



Sharp drop in research output after purge of academics

Brendan O'Malley

A new report claims that the short-term effects of the large-scale purge carried out by the Turkish government since the failed coup attempt a year ago include a 28% drop in research output of academics based in Turkey in 2017.


Links with Turkey vital amid clampdown, academics say

Michael Gardner

The mass dismissals of academics in Turkey and the clampdown on academic freedom there have had a profound effect on academic cooperation with Germany. But at this moment universities need to maintain their links with Turkey’s universities to keep windows and minds open, academics argue.


Turkish scholars in US face dilemma on speaking out

Nell Gluckman, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Turkish academics in the United States have found themselves in a precarious position since the Turkish government’s sweeping response to the attempt to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a year ago. They feel a duty to speak out against suppression of academic freedom but fear the consequences for their family and friends.



A new approach to understanding violent extremism

Nic Mitchell

Traditional terrorist research may be failing because it starts with perpetrators of terror and their motives, without looking at the vast majority of people who hear the same messages of extremism but don’t act on them. A Horizon 2020 project takes a different approach.


Small satellite opens high-tech research opportunities

María Elena Hurtado

Universidad de Chile’s latest satellite launch is the most ambitious example, in an increasing number of space programmes using low-cost small satellites, of opening up access for talented university students and teachers in Latin American countries to research projects in the vanguard.



Climate change could force billions to migrate

Geoff Maslen

Many of the climatic events occurring around the world are the direct result of the 1.1-degree global temperature rise that Earth has already experienced. A two-degree increase could force billions to move to higher ground. The scale of the challenge for scientists is unprecedented.


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Communist Party stresses leadership over universities

A meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee last week emphasised the party's authority over higher education institutions, reports Xinhua.


Donald Trump may face new legal action over university

Donald Trump could face new legal action over his controversial Trump University venture, after a new suit was filed in federal court, reports Adam Gabbatt for the Guardian.


University builds trench to stop Boko Haram attacks

Authorities in north-eastern Nigeria have begun digging a 27km trench around the University of Maiduguri to prevent attacks by Boko Haram Islamist militants, reports the BBC.


PM popularity falls as veterinary school scandal grows

Polls show that a scandal involving the Japanese prime minister and a veterinary school operated by his close friend is leading to higher disapproval ratings for Shinzo Abe, writes Elizabeth Shim for UPI.


Universities accused of ‘misleading’ Dáil committee

Senior officials from colleges including the University of Limerick, Dublin Institute of Technology and University College Cork have appeared before the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee to answer allegations over unauthorised severance packages, conflicts of interest and poor corporate governance, writes Carl O’Brien for The Irish Times.


Former university finance chief tackles minister

A year after she was fired as the chief financial officer of the University of Zululand, Josephine Naicker is taking on Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande over investigative reports on alleged corruption at the institution, writes Nokuthula Ntuli for the Sunday Tribune.


Eight universities to receive uninterrupted power

The Rural Electrification Agency has signed a memorandum of understanding with eight federal universities and one teaching hospital for the first phase of the federal government’s Energizing Education Programme, reports the Daily Trust.


VCs told to name universities after national heroes

The Higher Education Commission has directed vice-chancellors of public sector universities to ensure titling of their respective institutions under the names of national heroes and not ideologies based on religion, ethnicity or politics, writes Khalid Hasnain for Dawn.


Ministry steps up efforts to curb honorary degree misuse

The government is stepping up its efforts to prevent another avenue from being misused to gain titles and academic qualifications – honorary doctorates, writes Yuen Meikeng for The Star.


Partially reinstated travel ban received mixed response

The Supreme Court’s decision last Monday to allow a limited version of the Trump administration’s travel ban to take effect, carving out exceptions that appear to exempt university students, faculty and lecturers, has received mixed responses from academics, writes Susan Svrluga for The Washington Post.


Combustible cladding found on university housing blocks

Combustible cladding has been found on university accommodation blocks as fears grow that hundreds of thousands of people across the United Kingdom could be living in unsafe housing in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, writes Lucy Pasha-Robinson for the Independent.


Spike in students caught cheating in Welsh universities

The number of students caught cheating in Welsh universities has risen by almost 50% in two years, writes Shane Brennan for Daily Post. Across Wales, allegations of cheating went from 1,370 in the academic year of 2013-14 to 2,044 in 2015-16.

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