University World News Africa Edition
8 October 2017 Issue 206 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


Optimising the contribution of higher education in the SADC region

   In Africa Features, Sharon Dell reports on a bid by the Southern African Regional Universities Association to achieve greater alignment with SADC – the Southern African Development Community – as a way of ensuring that universities play a more active role in the implementation of regional development strategies, while Laeed Zaghlami gives an upbeat account of what Algerian universities are doing to become more innovative.

   In News from around the continent, Kudzai Mashininga reports on the progress made by Zimbabwean science universities in reverting to their core mandates of STEM-focused education in accordance with government pressure, while Gilbert Nakweya reports on the indefinite closure of the University of Nairobi in Kenya, and Christabel Ligami writes about a new East African university collaboration to fight diseases afflicting local communities.

   In our Special Report centred on the recent 11th Annual University of KwaZulu-Natal Higher Education Conference held in Durban, Nicola Jenvey highlights, among a selection of articles, the ongoing importance of decolonisation in debates around South African higher education.

   In a quarterly series on Academic Corruption, published by University World News in partnership with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation/CHEA International Quality Group, Brendan O’Malley reports on a study being conducted into what quality assurance and accreditation bodies are doing to tackle academic corruption around the world.

Sharon Dell – Africa Editor



Universities recommit to STEM mandates

Kudzai Mashininga

Facing tight economic conditions, Zimbabwe’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, universities are grappling with a long-standing government directive to revert to their core mandate of teaching mainly science-related courses.


Universities pool resources to fight common diseases

Christabel Ligami

A new university initiative has been launched targeting health research areas that receive minimal support from international donors in the East Africa region, but have a devastating effect on local populations.


University shuts down indefinitely over student protests

Gilbert Nakweya

The University of Nairobi, Kenya’s largest and oldest institution of higher learning, has been shut indefinitely following student unrest over allegations of police brutality.


University lecturers unhappy with strike talks outcome

Tunde Fatunde

The suspension of industrial action by university teachers on the basis of mere promissory notes from the government and a lack of resolution on outstanding issues is proving to be a bitter pill to swallow for members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities.


US$75 million student accommodation project kicks off

Tonderayi Mukeredzi

Infrastructure finance house, the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe, has commissioned the construction of student hostels for the state-owned National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo, the country’s second largest city.


The future of higher education is ‘balanced and inclusive’

Ochieng’ O Benny

African universities and entire education systems need to embrace 'balanced and inclusive education' to produce forward-looking graduates capable of tackling the continent’s socio-economic challenges and of adapting to changing global trends.


New law proving effective in student loans recovery

Kudzai Mashininga

Malawi’s Higher Education Students' Loans and Grants Board has said it has recovered nearly US$300,000 from former students who benefited from government loans since 1985 after a new loans law came into effect two years ago.



Self-taught skills – A wake-up call for education systems

Blessing Nemadziva

Early specialisation in high school and formal support to identify individual strengths may be a good way of encouraging more young people to remain in the formal education system and pursue higher education qualifications.


The University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa hosted the 11th Annual Higher Education Conference from 27-29 September in Durban under the theme “Crises, Contestations, Contemplations and Futures”, expanding its focus this year to include discussions on matters such as governance and leadership in higher education, and possible funding models.


HE conference agenda reflects sector’s topical issues

Nicola Jenvey

The issue of academic decolonisation was a strong feature of the 11th annual University of KwaZulu-Natal Higher Education Teaching and Learning Conference held in Durban in late September.


‘Free higher education requires funds and political will’

Nicola Jenvey

The concept of #FeesMustFall and the notion that South African higher education should be provided without cost to students has substantial merit in the current environment, but also calls on the government to institute a clear funding model backed by the political will to implement it.


A controversial call for decolonisation of maths

Nicola Jenvey

Formal metaphysical mathematics of the kind currently taught in schools and universities can and should be decolonised and uncoupled from its Western roots, and doing so would make it easier to teach and learn.



Optimising the contribution of HE in the SADC region

Sharon Dell

The Southern African Regional Universities Association is pushing for closer alignment between the Southern African Development Community, or SADC, and the regional universities body as a way of ensuring that universities – as knowledge producers and developers of human capacity – play a more active role in the implementation of regional development strategies and build institutional capacities.


Universities start to play catch-up in innovation drive

Laeed Zaghlami

After many years of lethargy, inertia and bureaucracy, universities and higher education centres and institutions are pushing a new approach to higher education – one that is based more heavily on innovation, entrepreneurship and partnerships with private and public companies.



Universities worried by perceived Islamic influence

Academics are concerned over a proposal by an Islamic council to introduce Sharia university courses and other attempts to ‘fraternise’ Tunisian universities.


Virtual university takes off

The Virtual University of Senegal, which has catered for 14,000 students during its first three years, will have a student roll of more than 20,000 in the new academic year.

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


Muslim students studying abroad detained, repatriated

Yojana Sharma

Human rights groups are expressing alarm over the fate of hundreds of Chinese students abroad belonging to the Uyghur ethnic minority and other Chinese Muslim students who have fled into hiding, disappeared or been repatriated to China where they have been sent to re-education camps.


PM pledges review of university funding, tuition fees

Brendan O’Malley

The Prime Minister, Theresa May, has announced a review of the whole system of student finance and has declined to rule out a switch to a graduate tax. In the meantime, she pledged to freeze fee rises and raise the threshold at which student loans will be repaid.


Universities take up Rohingya cause, call for research

Mushfique Wadud

Many university groups in Bangladesh are protesting against the plight of the Rohingya and calling on Myanmar to accept their return. Academics are pushing for more research on the crisis, its origins and the needs of the Rohingya group, to better prepare Bangladesh for its possible long-term impact on the country.


Nuanced findings on study abroad influence on careers

Mary Beth Marklein

The findings of a study on the impact of studying abroad on workplace success for United States alumni reveal key skills gains and the data may help international educators better design programmes that prepare students for their first job interview and beyond.


Nearly one in two university staff are administrative

Jan Petter Myklebust

The number of administrative personnel at Swedish universities has risen seven times as fast as the number of academic staff since 2000, according to research by a Swedish professor, and they now fill nearly half of all university jobs.


English-taught bachelor degrees proliferate in Europe

The past decade has seen an impressive growth in English-taught bachelor degrees in Europe as they have become increasingly common in international higher education, according to a joint study across 19 countries by the European Association for International Education and search platform StudyPortals.


Asian universities make inroads in subject rankings

There were signs of Asian progress in global university rankings being matched by gains in subject rankings in the latest Times Higher Education rankings covering social sciences, law, education, and business and economics.


Entry limits in medicine now a constitutional issue

Michael Gardner

As Germany’s health system suffers from a shortage of doctors, a German administrative court has called on the country’s Federal Constitutional Court to decide whether the numerus clausus entry restrictions for medicine at universities are unconstitutional.


Health warning for university staff with clear desks

Jan Petter Myklebust

A hot-desking rector is part of a trend towards open plan and ‘clean desk’ offices, with staff belongings kept in a box overnight. It is being pushed by a new government directive, which is causing heated debate about the impact on people’s health.



Luring overseas students in a more nationalist world

Marguerite Dennis

Nationalist movements have the potential to disrupt the global nature of higher education and the financial stability of colleges and universities around the world. International enrolment managers and deans should consider the impact on their recruitment plans.


Japan needs to open up to international faculty

Futao Huang

A detailed study of international academics working in Japan shows less than 5% have full-time posts and there has been no significant growth in the proportion of international faculty who were hired as institutional leaders, or in the small proportion who are women.


Business schools need to collaborate and innovate

Rahul Choudaha

The next decade will be characterised by intensified competition for talent, resources and reputation in a turbulent world. Business schools need to accelerate global engagement strategies based on collaboration and innovation – and develop global managerial talent who can make organisations adaptable to change.


A university playing on two fields at the same time

Roman Abramov, Ivan Gruzdev and Evgeniy Terentev

Russia’s National Research University Higher School of Economics is both a prominent global player and an organisation still embedded in the Russian academic and administrative environment. That can cause challenges and tension.



Internationalisation should start at school

Robert Coelen

The ideal of learning that crosses sectoral boundaries and extends from primary to tertiary education may seem a long way off. But internationalisation is part of core 21st century skills that need to be embedded from an early age, linking schools and universities.



What are QA bodies doing to tackle academic corruption?

Brendan O’Malley

A group of global experts is carrying out what is thought to be the first baseline research into what quality assurance and accreditation bodies around the world are doing to tackle academic corruption and what more can be done.


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New deal with US college may save elite university

The prestigious Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, seems to have found a way around a threat to close it down. The university had been affected by a law change that is widely thought to be politically motivated, writes Alison Abbott for Nature.


Universities urged to crack down on contract cheating

Universities are being urged to block websites that sell essays, identify cheating ‘hot spots’ and consider publishing data on breaches of academic integrity, writes Henrietta Cook for The Sydney Morning Herald.


Climate scientists oppose call for foreign researchers

French President Emmanuel Macron made global headlines in June when he called on foreign scientists to join his ‘Make Our Planet Great Again’ project on fighting climate change. But in France, not all researchers are happy about the invite, writes Romain Brunet for France24.


Academics issue warning over ‘truncated’ HE commission

The government has been sitting on appointments to key posts in the University Grants Commission, forcing the higher education regulator to make do with an ad hoc arrangement, although two search panels had shortlisted possible candidates at least four months ago, writes Basant Kumar Mohanty for The Telegraph India.


Oman ministry blacklists four Malaysian universities

The Higher Education Ministry of Oman has banned Omani students from attending four Malaysian universities due to alleged academic and administrative abuses by the universities, writes Beatrice Nita Jay for New Straits Times.


Foreign travel ban violates rights of lecturers – Dons

University lecturers have demanded the immediate withdrawal of the travel restriction recently imposed by the government, writes Ouma Wanzala for the Nation. The Universities Academic Staff Union said the move had adversely affected many members, who are frustrated by delays in processing requests.


Cuts ‘may push more universities into deficit’

The universities peak sector body has warned that 10 universities may tip into deficit if the government’s AU$2.8 billion (US$2.2 billion) higher education savings package goes through, writes Bernard Lane for The Australian.


Universities struggle to find qualified academic staff

Despite a raft of applications for nine lecturer vacancies announced in July, Ho Chi Minh City University of Transport has been unable to fill any of the positions owing to a lack of candidates with PhDs, reports Viet Nam News.


Universities join forces to ease shortage of engineers

The chronic shortage of qualified engineers in Jamaica could soon be a thing of the past as three of the island’s leading universities have forged a partnership which will see them training at least 1,000 annually, writes Nadine Wilson-Harris for The Gleaner.


University to establish driving school for women

Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University announced on 30 September that it is ready to establish a driving school for women in cooperation with the relevant authorities. The university made the announcement on their Twitter account, adding that their decision comes in line with the Royal directive to allow women to drive equally with their male peers in the Kingdom, reports Arab News.


New fund to boost international collaboration

A new fund – the International Academic Mobility Programme – will see €500,000 (US$586,000) made available to Irish higher education institutions to promote collaboration with global institutions in high potential markets, writes Kathleen McNamee for The University Times.


Student loans – Minister pushes terminology change

Universities Minister Jo Johnson has suggested that student loans be renamed “graduate contribution” tax, writes Camilla Turner for The Telegraph. At a Tory party conference fringe event, he also said the government needs to "work on the language" around student loans, so that young people do not feel as though they are getting a bad deal.


Roadmap to set out path towards increased collaboration

A higher education roadmap is being developed to pave the way for greater collaboration between Malaysia and Indonesia, writes Christina Chin for The Star.


Subsidy withdrawals may follow predatory publishing probe

The Department of Higher Education and Training will probe claims about predatory publishing, and could withdraw subsidies paid out for the academic articles in question, writes Bekezela Phakathi for BDLive.


Students march to oppose student loan scheme

In a statement issued as thousands of students marched through Dublin to voice their opposition to a loan scheme, Irish Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor said the government was adamant no “undue financial pressure” should be placed on parents and students, writes Carl O’Brien for The Irish Times.


College students turn to foreign universities for PhDs

Local media report that Swiss higher education colleges are teaming up with foreign universities to help their students obtain doctorates, because only a few Swiss universities are allowed to confer doctorates, reports

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