University World News Africa Edition
25 February 2018 Issue 215 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


Turning silent ‘lambs’ into academic champions of intellectual capital

   In Africa Analysis, Damtew Teferra writes in the wake of alleged Chinese espionage at the African Union headquarters that it is critical for Africa’s intelligentsia to step up to protect the continent’s strategic interests through the consolidation of its intellectual citadels, while Ekkehard Wolff laments that universities in Africa are doing little to address the issue of linguistic imperialism.

   In this week’s Special Report, we interview Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams, the principal investigator of a unique 21-country, four-year research project which explores the uses and impact of open educational resources in the Global South. The study, and the volume produced from it, fills a major gap in empirical research and has given educators in the South space to participate in a global conversation about open education. We also include a series of articles by Henry Trotter which give an overview of the findings.

   In Africa Features, Tunde Fatunde covers the story of the deportation of Cameroonian academics from Nigeria, and Gilbert Nakweya highlights the impact of new admissions reforms on the higher education sector in Kenya.

   In Africa News, three stories coming out of Zimbabwe, by Kudzai Mashininga and Tonderayi Mukeredzi, highlight the changes taking place in the higher education sector in the wake of the country’s recent leadership changes, while Ashraf Khaled covers the third edition of the Africa STI Forum from Cairo, Egypt.

   Finally, in World Blog this week, Philip G Altbach and Hans de Wit argue that we are seeing not just a temporary challenge from rising populism in some parts of the world but a fundamental shift on higher education internationalisation that will mean rethinking the entire approach.

Sharon Dell – Africa Editor



Banks pledge funds for STI research and training

Ashraf Khaled

Africa is to benefit from a multi-million-dollar boost for research and training in science, technology and innovation (STI), including the establishment of a pan-African university with funds from the African Development Bank, and a US$500 million fund from the Islamic Development Bank to finance projects in healthcare, education, water and agriculture.


Government about-turn on student teacher language policy

Kudzai Mashininga

The Zimbabwean government has come up with a policy making it mandatory for student teachers to learn three local languages in an attempt to address poor pass rates, particularly in Matabeleland in the south of the country, where the isiNdebele language is widely spoken.


Internship allowance fails to impress student unions

Tonderayi Mukeredzi

Students on industrial attachment from government universities and colleges will from August receive an allowance for transport needs and lunch at work. While the welfare of interns in Zimbabwe has been a major source of student unhappiness, student unions see the latest move as merely an election ploy.


Vice-chancellor charged over Grace Mugabe’s PhD

Kudzai Mashininga

University of Zimbabwe Vice-chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura has been arrested for allegedly awarding former first lady Grace Mugabe a doctor of philosophy degree 'corruptly' in 2014. Nyagura was arrested on Friday 16 February and granted bail the following day. He is to reappear in court on 5 March.


University graduates to lose out in oil industry take-off

Esther Nakkazi

As the Ugandan oil and gas industry nears take-off, experts say skilling workers for gainful employment in this sector should be concentrated in the country’s vocational institutions rather than its universities.


Academics and researchers drive smart city project

Laeed Zaghlami

Increasing pressure from population growth and rapid expansion of urban areas has spurred the Algerian government into using information and communications technology to develop a new model for cities, roping in academics and researchers, along with technology experts.


Private university heads unhappy with draft law

Wagdy Sawahel

Private university presidents have expressed their dissatisfaction at the draft law for private and national universities unveiled last month by the ministry of higher education and scientific research, which is aimed at promoting the expansion and diversification of higher education to meet increasing demand.



Espionage and denial – Breaking the silence of the lambs

Damtew Teferra

Instead of remaining silent, the African intelligentsia must appeal to and persuade its political establishments and institutional leaders to establish – and sustainably support – strategic academic institutions and intellectual powerhouses in order to advance the continent’s competitiveness in the increasingly complex global political, economic and intellectual landscape.


Africa failing to address linguistic imperialism

Ekkehard Wolff

More than half a century after independence from colonial rule with its imposition of the language of the colonial master, linguistic imperialism still rules in Africa. It is time for universities to address the impact on education of not teaching in students’ mother tongue.


‘Open educational resources’ are the focus of a growing field of inquiry, particularly in the Global South where, up until now, research has been relatively limited and isolated. Now, a new book based on three years of research across 21 countries and three regions in the Global South offers the first comprehensive analysis of the uses and impact of open educational resources, which have the potential not only to reduce educational costs, but to enhance the quality of educational materials.


The South joins a global conversation on open education

Sharon Dell

A 21-country study aimed at understanding how open educational resources can improve access, enhance quality and reduce education costs in the Global South not only fills a major gap in empirical research, but has helped to grow a community of researchers in the region and given educators in the South a space to voice their own perspectives and participate in a global conversation.


Opportunities and obstacles for open education

Henry Trotter

Given the social, financial and infrastructural challenges facing many African universities, could the provision of free and open educational materials to students and educators improve higher education provision on the continent?


The challenge of open and accessible education

Henry Trotter

Many South American students face severe infrastructural and resource challenges in accessing tertiary education. Obstacles include a lack of affordable textbooks, computers and broadband connectivity, a situation compounded by a lack of clear policy on how to address challenges related to issues of poor access and quality of education.


Diverse responses to open education

Henry Trotter

Educators in Asia’s diverse higher education sector are increasingly calling for educational resources that are more affordable for students, have undergone stringent quality assurance processes, and are of greater relevance to their local contexts.



Rights groups condemn deportation of academics

Tunde Fatunde

International human rights groups have condemned the Nigerian government for deporting 47 Cameroon nationals, six of whom are university lecturers. They were deported on suspicion of being 'terrorists' and are now being held by security forces in Cameroon.


University admissions reform – What effect will it have?

Gilbert Nakweya

Both public and private universities in Kenya are suffering from significantly reduced student intakes following government changes to university admissions policies which have resulted in a drop in candidates eligible for university study.



Mentorship programme targets female STEM faculty

Female faculty members in any field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from 17 African countries can participate in the 2018 Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research programme, a mentorship initiative funded by the United States Agency for International Development and administered by America’s National Academy of Sciences.


Scholarships call for postgraduate studies in biostatistics

The Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa has published two calls for doctoral and masters scholarships in biostatistics offered under the auspices of the Sub-Saharan Africa Consortium for Advanced Biostatistics, a consortium of 20 institutions in Africa and the United Kingdom.


ACE seeks postgraduate scholarship applications

The African Centre of Excellence (ACE) in Phytochemicals, Textile and Renewable Energy, hosted by Moi University in Kenya, is seeking applications for scholarships to its masters and doctoral programmes.

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


Prime minister announces review of tertiary education

Brendan O’Malley

The prime minister has announced a year-long review of tertiary education which will look at the whole question of how students and graduates contribute to the cost of their studies, including the level, terms and duration of their contribution, and how equality of access can be improved.


Government seeks grand conversation on education reform

Brendan O’Malley

The New Zealand government has announced its three-year programme to develop the first major reform of the entire education system since 1989, starting with a national education summit. University leaders say tackling severe underinvestment in higher education is a priority.


PM orders investigation of burglaries of China expert

Yojana Sharma

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last week ordered security agencies to investigate break-ins at the home and university office of an academic researching China’s influence in the country. The academic had been warned that she could be targeted if she did not toe Beijing’s official line.


Universities divided over decoupling from the state

Jan Petter Myklebust

The government is going ahead with work on a feasibility study on university governance, investigating among other models a decoupling of the universities from the state. But the issue is dividing university leaders and some are already protesting.


First university to start a branch in another state

Michael Gardner

Representatives of the Technical University of Munich (TUM), in Bavaria, and the Dieter Schwarz Foundation have signed an agreement supporting the development of a Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University campus into a TUM branch, making TUM the first German university to set up a branch in another German state.


Government moves to approve private university degrees

Shadi Khan Saif

The Afghan government has begun to approve the issuing of degree and diploma certificates to thousands of students at private universities who failed to get a place in public sector institutions. The first ‘authenticated’ private university diplomas were handed out earlier this month, according to the ministry of education.



Internationalism in an era of ultra-nationalism?

Kevin Evans

Is Indonesia’s higher education sector finally opening up to foreign universities? Recent statements suggest that the government is looking at internationalisation at home through allowing foreign campuses to set up, but there are many issues to consider.


How are universities creating the leaders they need?

Nadine Burquel and Anja Busch

With higher education being buffeted by change and multiple demands, good leadership is essential to meet the diverse challenges. That requires the development of multi-faceted leaders with proper training for dealing with both global and local demands.


Foreign students’ tuition fees are a double-edged sword

Daniel Sanchez-Serra and Gabriele Marconi

International students can be seen as ‘cash cows’ providing much-needed extra funds to support the higher education system, but governments must keep in mind research that shows that increasing their fees can lead to significant falls in the numbers coming.



The challenge to higher education internationalisation

Philip G Altbach and Hans de Wit

A plethora of negative trends suggests that the era of internationalisation of higher education may be coming to an end. But not all the trends are about a rejection of a global outlook. Through tackling issues such as academic freedom, internationalisation may be salvaged.



Islamic universities have role in fighting extremism

Wagdy Sawahel

As a new Islamic university establishes itself in Uzbekistan, experts say that along with similar institutions in the country and in Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, it could play a valuable role in combating the influence of radical extremism and stemming recruitment by Islamic State in Central Asia.


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Ongoing war leaves scientific research crippled

Though never a top producer of scientific research in the Arab region, Yemen had achieved a steady output of scholarly studies in recent decades. However, the continuing civil war over the past four years now threatens to stop the conduct of scientific research there almost entirely, writes Aseell Sarih for Al-Fanar Media.


Universities prepare for post-Brexit student influx

A new study suggests that universities on the Continent are increasing their offers as they expect students to look outside of the United Kingdom for courses in the years after Brexit, writes Eleanor Busby for the Independent.


HE body moots changes to academic promotion criteria

The University Grants Commission of India has proposed to do away with most of the existing rules on promotions for the post of associate and assistant professors, reports Outlook India.


Record foreign student numbers at technology universities

The number of foreign students doing engineering and technical degrees in the Netherlands has never been higher, with one in three masters students at four institutions coming from abroad, writes Senay Boztas for


Calls for student sexual assault taskforce

Leading anti-sexual violence advocacy groups are calling for the federal government to establish an independent taskforce to monitor Australian universities’ and residences’ responses to sexual violence and how they are attempting to tackle the issue, writes Remy Varga for The Australian.


Universities criticise government's free tuition criteria

Universities in Japan have slammed the central government for its moves to set criteria for institutions that will come under student fee reduction and exemption programmes as "an intervention in university autonomy", reports The Mainichi Japan.


Scottish universities demand say on tuition fees

Scottish universities have demanded a say on the future of tuition fees after British Prime Minister Theresa May launched a review of university funding, to be chaired by author and financier Philip Augar, writes Andrew Denholm for The Herald.


Universities, colleges to abolish admission fees by 2022

South Korea’s education ministry said last weekend that the nation’s national and private universities and 330 vocational colleges had presented their plans to do away with admission fees, reports KBS.


Academia, industry partner to end labour market mismatch

Four heads of higher education bodies and the Federation of Thai Industries have joined forces to solve the problem of a mismatch of supply and demand of labour force and skills in Thailand, writes Dumrongkiat Mala for the Bangkok Post.


Finally – How government plans to fund free education

A month after university registrations opened, Treasury has finally answered the big question regarding how government will fund free higher education – as expected it comes with significant cuts in government expenditure, writes Tebogo Tshwane for the Mail & Guardian.


'Grossly inequitable' fee-free warning from universities

Universities have warned that fee-free study could push some students to apply for courses they are unlikely to pass, as tension between the sector and the Labour-led government over the flagship scheme has been revealed in letters sent to Education Minister Chris Hipkins, writes Nicholas Jones for the NZ Herald.


Non-academic university staff vow to continue strike

Non-teaching staff members of federal universities in Nigeria have vowed that their ongoing strike will continue until their demands are acceded to by the government. The workers, operating under the umbrella of the Joint Action Committee, have been on a nationwide strike which entered the 78th day last week Tuesday, reports Sahara Reporters.


Number of foreign students rising at universities

The number of foreigners studying at Czech universities and colleges has been rising and most of them do not pay for their studies, but the total number of university students has decreased since 2010, according to the education ministry statistics released on its website, reports CTK.


HE at risk from immigration policies – University head

A prominent university head has said university leaders are concerned about how federal government policies, particularly on immigration, are affecting higher education in the United States, writes Natasha Turak for CNBC.

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