University World News Africa Edition
27 August 2017 Issue 203 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


South African universities – Is the end in sight?

   In Africa Analysis, Jonathan Jansen warns against the new normal of violence and disruption on South African university campuses, and other pressures with potentially devastating consequences for universities, as discussed in his book As by Fire: The end of the South African university.

   In Africa News, Munyaradzi Makoni reports on a lecture by renowned African scholar Professor Mahmood Mamdani on ‘Decolonising the Post-colonial University’ at the University of Cape Town in South Africa – the same institution Mamdani left 16 years ago after disagreements with colleagues over the content of a new curriculum, while Maina Waruru reports on the struggle by some private universities in Kenya to stay afloat, despite recently being allowed to admit government-sponsored students.

   In Africa Features, Stephen Coan interviews Professor Nelson Torto, recently appointed as the executive director of the African Academy of Sciences' Governing Council, and highlights Torto’s view on the power of research to propel Africa into the future, while Wagdy Sawahel writes about the challenge of meeting the needs of students with disabilities in North African universities.

   In World Blog, Patrick Blessinger and Enakshi Sengupta commend those who are working towards inclusivity of educational environments and encourage education, civic and other leaders to do more to ensure refugees have access to education, including higher education.

Sharon Dell – Africa Editor



‘An opportunity for the university to change direction’

Munyaradzi Makoni

Renowned African scholar Professor Mahmood Mamdani, who returned to the University of Cape Town last week after a 16-year absence to deliver the TB Davie Memorial Lecture hosted by the academic freedom committee, argued that the university had a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change direction – from a colonising outpost to a decolonisation project.


Private universities struggle to make ends meet

Maina Waruru

Even after the Kenyan government last year permitted the enrolment of state-sponsored students in private universities, many of these institutions continue to grapple with financial deficits as a result of low student numbers, poorly planned and rapid expansion, as well as weak financial and management accounting systems.


National agency partners with academia to fight corruption

Jackie Opara

The country’s anti-corruption agency is partnering with the National Universities Commission to sponsor 20 doctoral theses engaging with anti-corruption issues over the next 10 years and to introduce an anti-corruption course for all students at undergraduate level.


African biotechnologist expert laments anti-GMO stance

Kudzai Mashininga

The second Non-Aligned Movement Science and Technology Technical Meeting on Industrial Biotechnology ended in Harare last week with countries agreeing to intensify research activities, while a top African biochemist lamented restrictive policies that have slowed down the development of the biotechnology industry in Africa.


University unbundling to create four institutions

Kudzai Mashininga

President Peter Mutharika has approved the splitting of the University of Malawi’s four constituent colleges into separate institutions – a move first mooted more than a decade ago.



As by Fire – The end of the South African university

Jonathan Jansen

My book As by Fire: The end of the South African university warns against the new normal of violence and disruption on campuses, the closing down of space for dissent by the dominant (though not majority) student voice, and the kinds of pressures – including chronic instability and under-funding – that levelled the most promising post-colonial universities elsewhere in Africa. The book tries to push back against what some already see as inevitable.



New academy leader champions the power of science

Stephen Coan

“There is good science in Africa,” said Professor Nelson Torto, the newly appointed executive director of the African Academy of Sciences' Governing Council. “My only concern is that it might not be necessarily focused on the current needs and that is really something that requires debate and understanding.”


Countries lag in ‘disability-friendly’ campus movement

Wagdy Sawahel

The poor participation in university education in Morocco by young people with disabilities has been highlighted in a recent report presented to the United Nations.


After elections, what can higher education expect?

Maina Waruru and Christabel Ligami

With Kenyan elections done and dusted, the focus is now shifting to how President Uhuru Kenyatta and other elected officials will implement their ambitious election promises in relation to higher education and science, technology and innovation.



Report proposes raising lecturer retirement age to 70

A report commissioned by the higher education union, Syndicat Autonome de l’Enseignement Supérieur, has called for the raising of the age of retirement for university lecturers and recruitment drives as the higher education system struggles with higher student numbers and ageing lecturers.


Lecturers take action over salaries

University teaching staff at the University of Kinshasa have voted to continue a strike over pay as talks with government have failed. The move comes as academic staff in several other institutions in the country express unhappiness over non-payment of salaries.

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


Students and rectors oppose state university reforms

María Elena Hurtado

The state universities bill, now in Parliament, introduces changes to their governance, institutional system, rules of employment for academics and non-academics and government financing. But it has come under heavy criticism from students and rectors of the same universities it is supposed to back.


CUP reverses China censorship after academic uproar

Yojana Sharma

Cambridge University Press or CUP has reversed its decision to block access in China to more than 300 articles deemed sensitive to the Beijing government after China specialists and academics condemned its decision, made public earlier this month, to cave into pressure from China.


Pressure rises to take students out of migration target

Brendan O'Malley

The prime minister is under mounting pressure to remove international students from the target of cutting immigration from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands a year following the release of new figures showing that nearly all students leave the country on time.


HE funding, tuition fees pushed in federal elections

Michael Gardner

Research spending and higher education funding are on the agenda for the September federal elections, with the Free Democratic Party pushing for fairer funding for universities and tuition fees paid after graduation in what is likely to become a coalition government.


International students face residency clampdown

Jan Petter Myklebust

The Swedish Migration Agency has rejected more than 10 residence permits for international students admitted for a study place and grants at Swedish universities, claiming they have not adequately demonstrated that their primary aim for coming to Sweden is to study.


The reckoning begins at university in racism storm

Nell Gluckman, The Chronicle of Higher Education

The University of Virginia, site of the white supremacist rally and clashes that ignited a nationwide debate about race hate and free speech, is pondering how it could have done more to support its students or even stem a tragedy, and how to move forward.



Put UK universities at the centre of free trade deals

Ludovic Highman

United Kingdom universities post-Brexit need to carve for themselves a more proactive role at the centre of new free trade agreements in the competitive higher education market and position themselves as gateways to their regions, through greater public engagement and links with local business and industry.


How can Latin America-UK HE ties develop post-Brexit?

Valesca Lima

Brexit will make it harder to promote higher education exchanges and cooperation between Latin America and the United Kingdom. But bilateral initiatives show that the UK’s exit from the European Union should be seen not only as a threat, but also as an opportunity.


Culture clash – National vs international publishing

Rami Ayoubi and Hiba Massoud

Syria has continued its policy of sending postgraduate students to study in the West, despite the current conflict. This has boosted its international publications, but created tensions between those academics schooled in publishing nationally in Arabic and those publishing in English internationally.


Learning to learn could be built into online courses

Sandra Milligan

A study of more than 100,000 online learners finds that learning involves being prepared to take a risk, engaging with peers and having an independent streak – and teaching students how best to learn could be built into online programmes.


Uneven development leaves private institutions on top

Angel Calderon

The recent Times Higher Education ranking of Latin American universities shows that there is still a large gap between institutions in the region, and highlights the impact of under-investment in public higher education and the consequent dominance of private universities.



Inclusive higher education must cater for refugees

Patrick Blessinger and Enakshi Sengupta

In an era of increasing political instability, xenophobia, racism, religious and ethnic persecution, genocide and other threats to democracy and human rights, education, civic and other leaders should do more to ensure refugees have access to education, including higher education.



Universities must stand up to Chinese censorship

Bruce Macfarlane

Universities need to demonstrate their founding principles in the way they deal with naked attempts by China to shut down debate and academic freedom – as the storm over Cambridge University Press’s recent withdrawal of articles on sensitive subjects highlights.



Investigation into motives behind science misconduct

Suvendrini Kakuchi

In the wake of recent scandals over dubious data, leading to retractions of research papers from prestigious journals, Japan is carrying out broader investigations into what drives researchers to engage in misconduct in scientific research, with a view to preventing such behaviours.


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Up to 53% faculty posts vacant in central universities

Most nationally funded institutions, including the Indian Institutes of Technology, National Institutes of Technology and universities, are conducting classes with over one-third of faculty positions vacant, prompting the government to launch a major recruitment drive, writes Manash Pratim Gohain for The Times of India.


Authorities deny Princeton graduate student’s appeal

Iranian authorities have denied the appeal of Princeton University graduate student Xiyue Wang, who had been convicted of espionage and sentenced to 10 years in prison, the university announced recently, reports Town Topics.


Inside the US$4.5 billion business of education tourism

Top overseas universities are reporting record numbers of Chinese tourists this summer as more middle-class Chinese ‘tiger’ parents try to expose their children to wider academic horizons, write Alice Yan and Zhuang Pinghui for South China Morning Post.


Top universities to set up own entry examinations

Britain’s leading universities are scrambling to introduce their own entrance exams in a move which threatens to undermine the authority of the new ‘toughened up’ A-levels, write Camilla Turner, Luke Mintz and Flora Carr for The Telegraph.


University of Texas removes four Confederate statues

The University of Texas has removed four Confederate monuments in the wake of violent clashes in Virginia earlier this month, reports Reuters.


Universities grapple with court’s copyright decision

As the new academic year approaches, Canadian universities are grappling with the Federal Court of Canada’s recent copyright decision against York University, writes Sara Bannerman for The Conversation.


How the best education can lead to worse job prospects

While Vietnam’s schools equip students with basic skills for low-wage assembly-line work, its colleges and universities are failing to prepare youth for more complex work. As wages rise and basic manufacturing leaves for less expensive countries, that may threaten the government’s ambition to attain middle-income status, writes Nguyen Dieu Tu Uyen for Bloomberg.


Europe emerges as popular study destination for students

France has set a target of recruiting 10,000 Indian students by 2020 and ambassador Alexandre Ziegler reckons that it “looks very possible”, writes Ishani Duttagupta for The Economic Times. And the number of Indian students choosing Germany has been growing by 15-20% per year.


University entrance requirements may be tightened

University entrance requirements are likely to be tightened because too many students cannot write well enough, writes Adele Redmond for Stuff.


Top university announces new fixed minimum entry points

The University of Sydney will for the first time publish its minimum ATARs – Australian Tertiary Admissions Ranks – for entry into most courses, in a bid to provide more certainty for students and ensure entry is based on academic standards rather than demand, writes Pallavi Singhal for The Sydney Morning Herald.


Government is ‘killing’ technical universities – Union

The Technical Universities Teachers Association of Ghana has issued an ultimatum to government to constitute the governing councils for the various technical universities or risk triggering serious labour unrest in that sector, writes Kobina Welsing for Starr FM.


Agency to fund higher education set to take off

The Higher Education Financing Agency is set to take off soon, with the Ministry of Human Resource Development asking centrally funded higher education institutions to send in their project proposals to be considered for financing by the agency, writes Vikas Pathak for The Hindu.


Partnership to introduce country’s first PhD programmes

The Association of Liberian Universities has signed a memorandum of understanding with Ghana Technology University College and the MS Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences in India to deliver the first ever PhD programmes in Liberia, writes Willie N Tokpah for Front Page Africa.

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