University World News Africa Edition
28 January 2018 Issue 213 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


In search of new measures of universities’ contribution to society

   In Africa Analysis, Colleen Howell outlines a new research project being undertaken across four African countries to explore how key tertiary education players understand higher education and the public good within their national and regional contexts, and Damtew Teferra says African academics and intellectuals on the continent and in the diaspora must play a role in countering the prejudice and misinformation about Africa on the part of leaders such as United States President Donald Trump. Martin Oosthuizen, who takes the helm this year at the Southern African Regional Universities Association, writes about the association’s plans for the next four years.

   As part of the global Transformative Leadership series, Fatumah Birungi writes about her transformative experience at Costa Rica’s EARTH University and the benefits she and her community back in Uganda have seen as a result.

   In Africa News, Ashraf Khaled reports from Egypt on a university that failed over a thousand medical students after they staged a mass walkout from an examination on surgery, and Tonderayi Mukeredzi canvasses opinion on the Zimbabwean government’s decision to halt a popular STEM scholarship scheme aimed at encouraging more students to take science subjects at tertiary institutions, and to scrap mathematics as an entry requirement for certain higher education courses.

   In Africa Features, Stephen Coan highlights the discussion at the recent annual Decoloniality Summer School held by the University of South Africa.

Sharon Dell – Africa Editor



University fails over 1,200 students after exam walkout

Ashraf Khaled

Egypt’s state-run Mansoura University has announced the mass failure of over a thousand medical students after they staged a walkout from the examination hall in protest against what they said were overly-tough questions contained in a surgery paper.


Furore as government stops popular STEM programme

Tonderayi Mukeredzi

Government has binned the science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM advanced-level scholarships geared towards final-year school pupils, saying the money will be channelled towards university students. In addition, it has done away with mathematics as a requirement for higher education students to enrol in study programmes that do not require mathematical calculations.


Government sees need to bring back library science degree

Rodrigue Rwirahira

The imminent loss of important public documents due to poor archiving and inadequate library services has prompted the Rwandan government to facilitate the reintroduction of a library science degree programme which was scrapped five years ago.


US$200 million sought for university hostel expansion

Gilbert Nganga

The Kenyan government has asked foreign and local private investors for more than US$200 million to build hostels at three public universities this year.


Cholera risk keeps two universities shut

Kudzai Mashininga

Following a cholera outbreak last year which forced the closure of universities and other institutions of higher learning, the Zambian government announced earlier this month that all universities – except two – could reopen on 22 January, subject to clearance from the relevant local authorities and health departments.



Higher education and the public good in Africa

Colleen Howell

A new research project undertaken across four African countries aims to find a different way of evaluating the contribution of higher education to the public and counter Western-dominated rankings that place an emphasis on research and status.


SARUA – A leading regional vision for higher education

Martin Oosthuizen

Under the leadership of founding CEO Piyushi Kotecha, the Southern African Regional Universities Association has, over the past decade, developed a rich regional knowledge base, extensive networks, relevant regional higher education studies, innovative methodologies and programmes, as well as sound pathways to the consolidation of regional collaboration. Looking forward, the association plans to implement a new four-year strategic plan which builds upon this foundation in a large and diverse region.


Trump’s bigotry – The role of African intellectuals

Damtew Teferra

The role of African academics and intellectuals on the continent and in the diaspora in strategically countering the prejudice and misinformation about Africa on the part of leaders such as United States President Donald Trump cannot be overemphasised.


HE cluster takes forward continental education strategy

Wondwosen Tamrat and Damtew Teferra

Addressing the gaps and inefficiencies created by the lack of up-to-date information and organised data in African higher education has been identified in the Continental Education Strategy for Africa as one of its strategic objectives. This priority issue is to be tackled through its Higher Education Cluster which convened for the first time at the end of last year.



Reclaiming the past to create a decolonised future

Stephen Coan

Whatever the merits of the #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall student protest movements in South Africa, they have undoubtedly highlighted issues involving a tertiary education system that many consider still to be in thrall to the colonial experience.


Universities take steps to curb academic dishonesty

Laeed Zaghlami

The excitement that marks the beginning of the academic year in the Algerian higher education sector, made up of one and a half million students, belies a crisis of credibility in the wake of several recent incidents of cheating.


Higher education challenges and solutions for 2018

Wagdy Sawahel

The 16th meeting of the Arab Ministers of Higher Education and Scientific Research unveiled a new agenda for higher education which included a set of urgent challenges for 2018 and beyond.



Partnership launches network to boost HE online courses

REAMOOC, a network to develop innovative online university courses to improve higher education for students in Sub-Saharan Africa, has been launched by a 10-member European and African partnership.


Pan African University to craft strategic plan

The Pan African University is developing a strategic plan to help guide its activities over the next five years and identify key priorities, including resource mobilisation and how to offer relevant training.


Carnegie supports RUFORUM post-doctoral fellowships

The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture or RUFORUM, a network of 85 universities supporting capacity-building for agricultural training in Africa, has received a US$1.5 million grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York to support its post-doctoral fellowship programme on the continent.



How can higher education bring socially-just change?

Carolyn Muriel Shields

The transformative leadership series published by University World News in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation started a critically important dialogue, which needs developing, about how universities can broaden their focus from trying to be ‘best in the world’ to helping to create ‘the best world’ for everyone.


A life-changing journey from Uganda to EARTH University

Fatumah Birungi

A sponsored four-year degree at Costa Rica’s EARTH University, with its emphasis on practice, has been a transformative experience – not only for the individual student, but for her community back home in Uganda.


Improving the pipeline of social justice leadership

Susan V Berresford

The world needs a fresh pipeline of leaders to fight for social justice. The old ways of generating leaders will not meet the world's need to strengthen work on inequality and exclusion. Fellowship programmes for local leaders from marginalised communities may be the answer.

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


Technical courses revamp focuses on practical learning

Shuriah Niazi

With more than half of India’s engineering graduates not able to find a job because they don’t have the skills demanded by employers, crucial curriculum changes for engineering and technical courses have been announced to make them less theoretical and more practical.


Student protesters against compulsory Mandarin punished

Mimi Leung

Two students at Hong Kong Baptist University were suspended last week after campus protests over compulsory Mandarin language being required for students to graduate. The protests took on a political tone as Mandarin is the language of mainland China but not Hong Kong.


Academic freedom is facing ‘growing threats’ – Report

Yojana Sharma

There has been a “top-down backlash” since the student-led Umbrella Movement protests of 2014-15 in which the authorities have increasingly tried to limit academic freedom and bring academia under their control, according to a new report from rights group Hong Kong Watch, which says universities’ reputations are at risk.


27 universities out-produce big economies on research

A group of 27 of the world’s top universities together produce more research than all but two of the world’s major industrialised nations, including Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom, according to a new report published in Davos to coincide with the World Economic Forum.


University leader resigns in wake of Nassar testimony

Brendan O’Malley

Lou Anna K Simon resigned as Michigan State University president after mounting pressure in the wake of testimony that the university failed to respond adequately to multiple allegations raised with staff about disgraced physician Larry Nassar’s possible abuse of women on campus.


Vice-chancellor was guest at scandal-hit dinner

Brendan O’Malley

A university vice-chancellor was one of the guests at the elite men-only club dinner attended by billionaires, celebrities and politicians at the Dorchester Hotel in London that is at the centre of a storm over revelations that many of the 130 women employed as hostesses for the event were subjected to sustained sexual harassment, sexism and lewd remarks.


Grand coalition would offer more support for students

Michael Gardner

Germany’s Social Democrats are discussing a grand coalition with the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union, having reached agreement in exploratory talks on a number of issues, including higher education and research, where they would increase means-tested support for students.



Governing bodies need to understand universities better

Robert A Scott

To ensure universities provide value, there needs to be a greater alignment between the mission, goals and strategies of a university, the criteria for selection to a governing position, the criteria for selecting faculty and the mission for academic study.


Internationalisation of universities – the German way

Marijke Wahlers

Germany has developed a pro-internationalisation strategy, seeing international students as a benefit for itself and for global development. But can the country continue to buck the global trend of seeing these students as a cash cow?



At university I could not escape the shadow of war

Mona Jebril

A student from Gaza who gained a masters at Oxford and a PhD at Cambridge says in this time of growing conflict worldwide, if universities want to be truly international, they need to think more carefully about how they support international students from conflict areas.



Global universities unprepared for sea change ahead

Nic Mitchell

An overwhelming majority of the participants responding to a live poll during the webinar on the megatrends shaping the future of global higher education agreed that universities face transformative changes in the next decade – but only 12% believe higher education institutions are prepared for the sea change that lies ahead.



An important show of unity on precarious employment

Emmanuelle Fick and Grace Karram Stephenson

The recent Ontario college strike has united part-time and full-time academics in calling attention to the issue of precarious employment in higher education and has made a start on improving the working conditions of short-term contract faculty.



Unpaid bills force universities to close until spring

Ararat L Osipian

Ukraine’s universities have no money to pay heating bills and have had to close their doors and send students on extended holidays until spring. The heating problem has affected universities throughout the country and has included its flagship higher education institution, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.


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China on verge of becoming a scientific superpower

The United States National Science Foundation and the National Science Board have just released their biennial Science and Engineering Indicators, a voluminous document describing the state of American technology. There are facts and figures on research and development, innovation and engineers. But the report’s main conclusion lies elsewhere: China has become – or is on the verge of becoming – a scientific and technical superpower, writes Robert J Samuelson for The Washington Post.


Education minister calls evolution ‘scientifically wrong’

A new front has opened in the war on science in India. India’s minister for higher education, Satyapal Singh, recently took aim at the theory of evolution, writes Pallava Bagla for Science.


Chief justice orders halt to any new law colleges

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar issued an order recently prohibiting universities across the country from granting affiliation to new law colleges, at the same time barring high courts and subordinate courts from issuing a stay order on the case, writes Saifullah Cheema for Dawn.


Oxford University gives women more time to write exams

Oxford University exam times in maths and computer science were increased in a bid to improve the low scores of women after dons ruled that “female candidates might be more likely to be adversely affected by time pressure”, writes Tony Diver for The Telegraph.


Regulator to decide whether all lecturers need PhDs

The higher education regulator in Kenya is set to make a major decision on whether to do away with or retain requirements demanding that only PhD holders teach in universities – requirements that were due to come into effect by the end of this year, writes Ouma Wanzala for the Daily Nation.


British universities to set up campuses in Egypt

Campuses for British universities could soon spring up in Egypt after the United Kingdom signed an agreement with the country’s education ministry that will remove barriers that prevented such institutions from expanding there, reports The National.


Private institutions to benefit from law revision

A revision to Vietnam’s Law on Higher Education should create more favourable conditions for private institutions in tertiary education, reports Viet Nam News.


Despite increase, Arabs still underrepresented in HE

The number of Israeli Arabs pursuing bachelor degrees at Israeli universities and colleges jumped 60% over the last seven years to 47,000 in 2017, a survey by the government’s Council for Higher Education has found, but they remain underrepresented in higher education, writes Lior Dattel for Haaretz.


New bill brings technological universities a step closer

The creation of new technological universities has moved a step forward after legislation paving the way for the move was passed by the Dáil. The Technological Universities Bill provides for the merger of existing institutes of technology and the creation of a new category of university, writes Carl O’Brien for The Irish Times.


Data suggests universities contribute to unemployment

Unemployment rates among university graduates hit 23% last year in Jordan, according to the latest official statistics. The unemployment is uneven across gender: nearly 27% of unemployed university graduates are male, while almost 68% are female. Why can Jordan graduates not get jobs? asks Ammar Faris for Al-Fanar Media.


Glass ceiling for Scotland’s female academics

Scottish universities are lagging behind the rest of the United Kingdom in the proportion of female academics who are given professorships. New figures show just 23.7% of professors at Scottish universities are women, despite the fact they make up 44% of the academic workforce, writes Andrew Denholm for The Herald.


Government shelves plans for Robert Mugabe university

The government of Zimbabwe has temporarily shelved plans to construct a US$1 billion university in honour of former president Robert Mugabe as it was not a priority at the moment, writes Xolisani Ncube for NewsDay.


New admissions process to start at 11 universities

Eleven universities in the Yangon and Mandalay regions of Myanmar will implement the new student admissions system for the 2018-19 academic year as a start to giving partial authority to universities, instead of the current system in which the Department of Higher Education manages the whole process, writes Ei Shwe Phyu for the Myanmar Times.


Report reveals taxi industry hampering HE enrolment

On the very day Liberia inaugurated its new president and vice-president, a civil society organisation released what it calls useful data to support the new government’s education and youth development programmes. Among such data is the finding that the commercial taxi driving industry is hampering young people’s pursuit of higher education, writes Toweh Alphonso for The New Republic.

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