University World News Africa Edition
19 November 2017 Issue 209 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


Ensuring both access and success among female students in Ethiopia

   In Africa Analysis, Wondwosen Tamrat argues that while significant improvements have been made in female student access rates in universities in Ethiopia, high attrition rates remain an ongoing challenge.

   In Africa Features, Laeed Zaghlami discusses the challenges facing Algerian students seeking to pursue postgraduate education in France, while Wagdy Sawahel highlights the opportunities for higher education as a result of the rise of ‘smart cities’ in Africa.

   In news from around the continent, Gilbert Nganga reports on the Kenyan government’s announcement of a fresh round of university audits focusing heavily on staffing issues, and Maina Waruru reports on the launch by the African Academy of Sciences of a publishing platform that offers African scientists the chance to publish their work without the editorial bias that attends many traditional journals, and with transparent post-publication peer review.

   In a section on Quality Assurance in Africa, Maina Waruru reports on moves by the African Union Commission, working with UNESCO, to expedite the ratification and implementation of the Addis Convention on the recognition of academic qualifications in higher education in African states, as part of the much-awaited Pan-African Quality Assurance and Accreditation Framework; and Francis Kokutse interviews Violet Makuku, project officer for the Association of African Universities’ Harmonisation of African Higher Education Quality Assurance and Accreditation Initiative, about progress in building quality assurance systems in African universities.

   In Global Commentary, Aurelija Valeikienė contends that the need to demonstrate impact and uncertainty over what quality means are impeding quality assurance in higher education.

Sharon Dell – Africa Editor



Universities brace for workforce review and job cuts

Gilbert Nganga

The Kenyan government has kicked off a fresh round of audits of state universities which will see campus closures, prosecution of top managers in defaulting institutions, massive job cuts and a radical change in the conditions of service for lower-level and non-teaching staff.


Science academy launches open access publishing platform

Maina Waruru

The African Academy of Sciences is launching its own publication platform early next year that guarantees researchers immediate publication of articles and other research outputs without editorial bias, and a transparent post-publication peer review.


University eyes alumni to boost coffers after budget cut

Rodrigue Rwirahira

The University of Rwanda is pinning its hopes on the generosity of the university’s graduates currently working in the private sector to provide funding to make up for a substantial shortfall in the institution’s budget, occasioned by government cuts.


Court scraps pre-bar exam for law school entry

Gilbert Nakweya

A Kenyan high court has outlawed the controversial pre-bar examinations administered by the Kenya School of Law under the advocates training programme aimed at law graduates from local universities.


Army takeover disrupts university lectures, examinations

Kudzai Mashininga

The University of Zimbabwe deferred examinations scheduled for Wednesday, and at least two other universities advised students to stay at home last week, according to news reports and local sources. This came as the military staged what appeared to be a coup to end President Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule.


Zuma releases long-awaited fees commission report

Sharon Dell

The long-awaited Heher Commission report into the feasibility of fee-free higher education and training has finally been released to the public by President Jacob Zuma, although South Africa still awaits his pronouncement on its contents.



Linking female students’ access to success

Wondwosen Tamrat

While significant improvements have been made in female student access rates in universities in Ethiopia, high attrition rates remain a challenge.


What the Treasury hijacking means for HE and beyond

South Africa has been rocked by news that President Jacob Zuma has bulldozed the country’s National Treasury to adopt a fee-free higher education proposal without following standard process and scrutiny. This is reportedly what’s behind the resignation of the Treasury’s respected head of budgeting, Michael Sachs. The Conversation Africa’s Sibonelo Radebe asked Seán Muller to weigh up the implications.



AU moves to expedite Africa-wide quality assurance project

Maina Waruru

The African Union Commission is working jointly with UNESCO to expedite the ratification and implementation of the Addis Convention on the recognition of academic qualifications in higher education in African states, as part of the much-awaited Pan-African Quality Assurance and Accreditation Framework.


Students bear the brunt of poor quality assurance systems

Francis Kokutse

The lack of quality assurance systems in some African universities is producing ‘half-baked graduates’ who are not fit for the workplace, according to Violet Makuku, project officer for the Association of African Universities’ Harmonisation of African Higher Education Quality Assurance and Accreditation Initiative.


Fledgling quality network holds second annual conference

Wondwosen Tamrat

The Ethiopian Higher Education Quality Enhancement Network held its second annual conference in Addis Ababa last month. Although still under formation, it is already considered indispensable in complementing the sprouting quality assurance units at public and private institutions and individual efforts geared towards responding to the requirements of the national Higher Education Relevance and Quality Agency.



Students face uphill struggle to study in France

Laeed Zaghlami

Chaos surrounding the organisation of this year’s registration process aimed at students seeking to pursue postgraduate studies in France, effectively the country’s former coloniser, has highlighted a range of hurdles facing Algerian graduates seeking what they believe at the outset to be greener pastures.


The rise of smart cities – Openings for higher education

Wagdy Sawahel

Africa is the next frontier for innovation in the smart cities arena, according to a 2017 report entitled The Smart Cities Blueprint 2017. What are the implications for higher education?


More practical training – A growing call in HE

Sam Otieno and Esther Nakkazi

Current higher education policies which prioritise numbers of students over education quality and relevance are creating long-term labour market dysfunction and an oversupply of graduates with limited employment opportunities, according to an agricultural education expert.



Students angry over fees hike and other issues

Students have reacted angrily at the raising of university fees to FCFA50,000 (US$90) as a harmonisation measure with other countries, as well as the withdrawal of student grants and lack of services.

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


Some subjects 'could lose half their EU staff’

Brendan O’Malley

Some regions in the United Kingdom risk losing up to half of some university subjects’ European Union staff, due to uncertainty over immigration rules after Brexit, according to a new report from the British Academy.


UK tumbles, Asia rises in THE employability ranking

Nicola Jenvey

Higher education institutions in the United Kingdom have tumbled in Times Higher Education’s just-published Global University Employability Ranking, while Asian universities – specifically in mainland China, Taiwan and South Korea – have made significant strides in respectability.


Huge university expansion but drop-out rate unchanged

Geoff Maslen

The proportion of students dropping out of Australia’s universities is about the same as it was a decade ago – despite a dramatic expansion of access to a larger and more diverse group of students than ever before.


First university ranking prompts mixed reaction

Mushfique Wadud

A ranking of Bangladesh’s private universities, published by two prominent media outlets, prompted mixed reactions in Bangladesh.


Universities clarify cooperation with industry, society

Michael Gardner

University heads in Germany have adopted a resolution clarifying cooperation between higher education, industry and society at their members’ assembly in Potsdam.


Paul Simon study abroad act back on legislative cards

America’s influential Association of International Educators, known as NAFSA, has welcomed the introduction of the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act to the House of Representatives. The bipartisan bill, also introduced to the Senate in September, is aimed at expanding study abroad opportunities for undergraduate students.


Academics at one more university resist online courses

Beckie Supiano, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Professors at Eastern Michigan University in the United States are objecting to its partnership with a private company to market and support online programmes, making it the latest institution to grapple with questions about the quality of online instruction.


Foreign students ‘sent from heaven’ – former minister

Jan Petter Myklebust

Sofie Carsten Nielsen, Denmark’s minister for higher education and science in 2014-15 and now a spokesperson for the radical left party, has proposed a grant order to encourage international students receiving Danish financing to stay and work in the country after graduating.



World-class universities and the global common good

Simon Marginson

At a time of growing nationalism, it is both more difficult and more crucial to balance the global, national and local contributions of world-class universities, while advancing their essential role in building the global common good.


The politics of quality assurance in higher education

Aurelija Valeikienė

Quality assurance is being held back by institutional leaders' and government's need to demonstrate impact and by constant changes and differences of opinion about what quality means at any given time.


Why a boycott of universities does not make sense

Roger Chao Jr

Cutting ties with Myanmar’s universities due to the Rohingya issue will set back attempts to rebuild the country’s higher education system – a system which could ultimately contribute to peacebuilding.


The Open Doors® Report on International Educational Exchange, charting international students in the United States and American study abroad, was published on 13 November by the Institute of International Education and the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. University World News reports.


Crisis to opportunity: Rehumanising internationalisation

Jenny J Lee

The looming international enrolment crisis at American universities and colleges illustrated by the Open Doors survey could make way for rethinking what internationalisation can be. I propose a bigger vision than competing for a dwindling supply – rehumanising, politicising and conscious-raising international education by asking new questions that extend beyond bottom-lines and towards synergistic possibilities.


How the US can stem decline in international students

Rahul Choudaha

New figures show a decline in international students going to the United States. Universities need to work harder to differentiate their offering and diversify their source countries.


New international student numbers decline for first time

Karen MacGregor

The number of new international students in the United States declined by 3% in 2016-17 – dropping for the first time in the 12 years since the Open Doors survey of the Institute of International Education has reported new enrolments. But the overall number of international students rose by 3% to 1.08 million and Americans studying abroad increased by 4%.


Over 186,000 Indian students in US, but growth rate drops

Shuriah Niazi

The number of Indian students studying in the United States has nearly doubled in the last five years to more than 186,000, according to Open Doors data published last week. However, the growth rate of 12.3% in 2016-17 was the lowest in three years.



What to do about sexual harassment on campuses

Ashwini Deshpande

Universities have been caught up in recent accusations about sexual harassment. How can campuses around the world tackle the problem?



Dispute over first veterinary school in half a century

Suvendrini Kakuchi

Heated debate – both political and academic – over the establishment of a new veterinary school in Japan after a lacuna of 52 years has highlighted the excruciating challenges that face the country in its push to reform higher education.


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Massive surge in foreign student numbers

The Netherlands has seen a massive surge in the number of international higher education students, with over 80,000 enrolled at Dutch universities and applied sciences universities during the 2016-17 academic year, and many are expected to stay in the country, writes Zack Newmark for NLTimes.


Universities to be allowed to hire on higher salaries

Universities in Ireland are to be allowed to hire staff on salaries higher than that of the Taoiseach (prime minister) under new measures aimed at attracting top talent to the third-level sector, writes Carl O’Brien for The Irish Times.


A last-minute fight against graduate student tax hike

University leaders and education groups are urging the United States Congress to reconsider provisions in the House GOP tax bill that would mean huge tax hikes for graduate students – that they warn could cripple graduate education in America – writes Benjamin Wermund for Politico.


Government announces tax relief for private universities

Ghana’s government has announced that privately-owned universities will be granted some tax reliefs, thereby enabling them to thrive and admit more students, reports GhanaWeb.


Government mulls income-contingent student loans

The Japanese government is considering major reform to the higher education tuition system by moving to an income-contingent loan scheme similar to systems in Australia, England, Hungary, the Netherlands and some other countries, write Shiro Armstrong and Bruce Chapman for East Asia Forum.


Australian academic claims China book was ‘censored’

An Australian author has said a publisher withdrew plans to release his book about alleged Chinese influence in Australia due to fears of "retaliation" by Beijing, reports BBC News.


Scientists point to increasing pressure to publish

Scientists and researchers say that Singapore is at far greater risk of academic fraud now, given the increasingly competitive academic environment, writes Yuen Sin for The Straits Times.


Dejection as university entrance exam postponed by quake

South Korean test-takers expressed confusion and dejection last Thursday as the country’s highly competitive annual university entrance exam, called a ‘life assignment exam’ by some, was postponed for a week for the first time ever due to safety concerns, write Joyce Lee and Jiwon Choi for Reuters.


Top university’s law programme under existential threat

When it comes to teaching law, the University of Cape Town is ranked in the top 100 universities internationally. Yet in a shock move, South Africa’s Council on Higher Education last week informed the university’s law faculty that it is in danger of losing accreditation for its bachelor of laws programme unless certain conditions focusing on transformation are met, writes Rebecca Davis for Daily Maverick.


National meeting held to discuss university media course

A national consultation on course development, titled “Conflict Coverage and Crisis Communications”, for mass media departments of universities was jointly organised by the Pakistan Peace Collective, a research and communications project of the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage and the Higher Education Commission, reports the Associated Press of Pakistan.


Scottish universities to widen student access

Universities across Scotland have vowed to widen access to people from the most deprived areas of the country at a faster rate. Action to be taken includes contextualised admissions, making clearer the minimum entry requirements for all courses, making it easier for students to move from college direct to university courses and guaranteed offers for care to experienced applicants who meet minimum entry requirements, writes Russell Jackson for The Scotsman.


Universities urged to overhaul mental health support

The mother of a student who took his own life while at Oxford University, just days after he had been told to take a medical leave of absence from his studies, is calling for an overhaul of the way British universities support students suffering from mental illness, writes Eleanor Steafel for The Telegraph.


Beijing universities offer HIV self-test kits

Local news reports in China say 11 universities in Haidian District of Beijing now offer HIV self-test kits in campus vending machines, writes Sun Wenyu for People’s Daily Online.


Deemed institutions told to drop the word ‘university’

In a letter dated 10 November, the University Grants Commission, India’s higher education authority, has asked 123 Deemed-to-be-Universities to drop the word 'university' from their names, reports NDTV.


Six universities told to change advertising claims

The advertising watchdog has told six United Kingdom universities to take down marketing claims that could be misleading. Leicester, East Anglia, Strathclyde, Falmouth, Teesside and the University of West London have all had complaints upheld against them, writes Sean Coughlan for BBC News.


65% of university seniors rejected job offer – Survey

Around 65% of university seniors in Japan had turned down one or more job offers as of October amid a nationwide labour shortage, reports The Japan Times.


Ministry boosts job opportunities for disabled graduates

The Higher Education Ministry will be cooperating with the Development of Persons with Disabilities Department in an effort to ensure disabled graduates in Malaysia obtain employment opportunities, reports Bernama.


Universities warned against issuing fake degrees

Universities in Uganda have been warned against issuing 'fake' degrees to people seeking to advance their careers, writes Andrew Ssenyonga for New Vision.

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