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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
LATIN AMERICA-UNITED KINGDOM
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.