University World News Africa Edition
1 April 2018 Issue 217 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


Bringing news and analysis about African HE to a global audience

   Over the last 10 years, University World News – Africa has filled an important gap as a provider of news and analysis related to higher education in Africa – a role noted by many of the contributors to our special report published today to commemorate our 10-year anniversary. Providing an insightful overview of the past 10 years, UWN Africa founder and former editor Karen MacGregor looks back at the dramatic developments in the sector over the past decade and the role of the publication in tracking these.

   Other contributors to the special report include Teboho Moja who reminds us of the role of UWN Africa in covering African issues that were and still are overlooked by other media sources; Goolam Mohamedbhai who speculates, from a highly informed position, about the future of higher education in Africa over the next 10 years; and Nico Cloete and Francois van Schalkwyk who write about the formation and contribution to higher education of the Higher Education Research and Advocacy Network in Africa.

   Ahmed Bawa takes a more focused look at the South African higher education sector, while Damtew Teferra highlights concerns around global policy shifts impacting higher education in Africa.

   A number of our regular writers – from North, East and West Africa – share their expertise and experiences of higher education in their regions over the past 10 years, while some of our distinguished readers and contributors from around the globe tell us why they value University World News – Africa. We are grateful for the encouraging comments.

   In News from the African continent this week, Gilbert Nakweya reports on discussions by a presidential panel held at the Next Einstein Forum in Kigali, Rwanda last week, while Christabel Ligami covers the opening of an Association of African Universities regional office in Khartoum, Sudan. Maina Waruru writes about the launch of two new mobility programmes by the African Academy of Sciences, and Kudzai Mashininga covers the latest developments in the Grace Mugabe PhD degree case in Zimbabwe.

   In two features from South Africa, Primarashni Gower writes about the launch in South Africa of a mentorship programme from Australia which draws on university students to help high school pupils pursue higher education opportunities, and Mark Paterson covers a controversial take on the ongoing decolonisation debate in South Africa.

   In Africa Analysis, Wondwosen Tamrat and Damtew Teferra discuss the merits of greater support for the private higher education sector in Africa.

   I hope you enjoy this bumper edition and I extend our thanks to all of you for your loyal readership, interest and support over the years.

Sharon Dell – Africa Editor



Proud to celebrate 10 years of UWN’s Africa edition

Brendan O'Malley

University World News is proud today to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its Africa edition and partner, which has grown to play a vital and respected role in reporting on higher education developments across the continent to readers in Africa – but also worldwide.


Heads of state throw their weight behind science

Gilbert Nakweya

Emphasising the importance of partnerships in the development of science and technology in his country and describing science as a “very serious business”, Rwandan President Paul Kagame said science had a place in society “whether we support it or not”. However, “we would be the ones losing if we didn't support it for the benefit of our people”, he said at a presidential panel of the Next Einstein Forum held last week in the Rwandan capital of Kigali.


Association of African Universities opens regional office

Christabel Ligami

The Association of African Universities has opened its Eastern regional office in Sudan in a bid to increase the association’s visibility and proximity to its member universities, as part of a broader move to open regional offices throughout the continent.


Science academy launches two new mobility funds

Maina Waruru

Two new mobility funds have been launched by the African Academy of Sciences, aimed at encouraging African researchers to work together and with their Indian counterparts to better address health and development challenges.


Mugabe PhD case – University head to stand trial

Kudzai Mashininga

A Harare court has ruled that University of Zimbabwe Vice-chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura has a case to answer for allegedly awarding former first lady Grace Mugabe a doctor of philosophy degree ‘corruptly’ in 2014, hence he must stand trial.


Tax cuts to stimulate science research at universities

Wagdy Sawahel

Higher education institutions and scientific research centres in Egypt will be exempt from tax and customs duties as part of new measures aimed at stimulating research and innovation in the country.


Policy review may prompt cuts to university numbers

Gilbert Nganga

Kenya is set to substantially reduce the number of existing universities in the coming years in a bid to safeguard faltering quality of learning arising from the mushrooming of institutions.


Medical students continue five-month-long protests

Wagdy Sawahel

Resident medical students from the University of Algiers are continuing a five-month strike over their working and training conditions. Demanding changes to the civil service system, the students want mandatory civil service for Algerian doctors suspended, exemption from compulsory military service and better teaching.



Changing the discourse on private higher education

Wondwosen Tamrat and Damtew Teferra

Progressive government policies are an important way to harness private higher education institutions as effective partners in national and regional endeavours for social and economic development in Africa – provided, of course, that government policy pledges are honoured.


University World News – Africa was launched on 30 March 2008. In this Special Report, which marks our 10th anniversary, we look back at some of the key developments in the sector over the past 10 years, as well as some of the challenges that still lie ahead.


A lifetime of University World News – Africa

Karen MacGregor

Often time flashes by. But it feels like a lifetime ago that University World News – Africa was launched on 30 March 2008. Perhaps this is because so much has happened in Africa over the past decade, especially in higher education, which has clocked the world’s highest regional enrolment growth rate and has expanded exponentially. There has been a research awakening, huge expansion of the private sector and higher education has ratcheted up the political agenda, with growing understanding of its key role in development.


UWN – Tracking the key issues in higher education

Teboho Moja

Over the 10 years since its establishment, University World News – Africa has kept a keen eye on major developments in the sector and has reported on issues related to the African continent often overlooked by other media sources.


What do the next 10 years hold for higher education?

Goolam Mohamedbhai

The past decade has witnessed many positive developments in the African higher education sector, but the next 10 years hold a number of challenges, including increasing the output of postgraduates and research, building adequate quality assurance systems, expanding the reach of higher education through e-learning, achieving greater differentiation and finding a way to contribute meaningfully to the Sustainable Development Goals.


HERANA – 10 years of growing research universities

Nico Cloete and Francois van Schalkwyk

The Higher Education Research and Advocacy Network in Africa (HERANA), formed in 2007, has been a critical feature of the higher education landscape in Africa over the past 10 years, providing rich data on its eight partner universities and linking them not only to one another but also to expertise from the continent and globally. Importantly, its emphasis on advocacy played an important role in the establishment of University World News – Africa.


TVET – The new stepbrother to higher education?

Damtew Teferra

The past 10 years have been characterised by a growing recognition of the importance of higher education to the development of a global knowledge economy. More recently, however, there are signs of a worrying sense of competition with the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) sector that could marginalise higher education and have similar deleterious effects as a past World Bank policy which declared higher education a poor investment.


The ongoing project of ‘reimagining’ higher education

Ahmed Bawa

Despite strategic restructuring in the wake of the 1994 democratic transition, deep systemic challenges persist in South Africa’s higher education system. The past 10 years have seen fascinating developments in the sector which ultimately speak to the need for an ongoing conversation about the future role of universities at both national and international levels.


After years of taxiing, higher education nears take-off

Gilbert Nganga

Looking back over the last 10 years of higher education reveals that Kenyan universities are still grappling with many of the same challenges. But there have been major developments and initiatives which hold the potential to support an imminent take-off of the sector.


‘A cloudy but promising journey’

Tunde Fatunde

Working as a journalist for University World News over the past 10 years has been an exciting, rewarding and at times entertaining journey and has provided a front-row seat to key developments in the higher education sector in Nigeria and its neighbouring countries.


Are universities ready for Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Wagdy Sawahel

Over the past 10 years, Arab North African countries have introduced a number of reform initiatives; they have crafted national educational strategies, policies and action plans, created research councils, and set up regulatory bodies to oversee the quality of learning. University World News asked a selection of scholars and experts for their views on the progress and challenges still facing the sector, and how it can produce graduates ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.


Higher education – Caught in a double bind

Wachira Kigotho

Key reports and studies on African higher education over the last 10 years have tracked some of the main features of the sector and provide a snapshot of the state of the sector as a whole. By far the most striking trend has been the sector’s continuing, and increasingly rapid, expansion. This growth is unsurpassed by any other region in the world and, while definitely needed, it has also given rise to a range of related challenges.


‘Unique, cherished and respected by its audience’

Our distinguished readers, partners and contributors give us rewarding feedback on the last 10 years of University World News – Africa, and in doing so, help us to fine-tune our ongoing contribution to higher education in Africa and the world.



Bringing ‘development’ into the decolonisation debate

Mark Paterson

A decolonisation campaign started by South African students in 2015 risks fatally undermining the country’s higher education system and its capacity to support national development, a recent meeting in Cape Town was told.


Mentorship programme aims to arrest ‘tide of inequality’

Primarashni Gower

An Australian-based mentorship programme which facilitates the mentoring of disadvantaged high school pupils by university students aims to improve the life chances of young people through education and stem inequality “before it takes deeper root”.



Partnership to raise quality of professional training

Côte d’Ivoire and Switzerland have entered into an agreement covering vocational and professionally oriented education, to raise the quality of training in Côte d’Ivoire and improve employment prospects for the country’s students.


Union continues bid to dismiss university director

The leader of the employees’ union of the University of Technology, Mauritius has written to the prime minister demanding the dismissal of the university’s director whom he accuses of causing long-term damage to the institution.

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


Hundreds of universities targeted in global data steal

Yojana Sharma

The United States Department of Justice has released details indicting nine Iranian nationals for stealing research from universities, research institutions and other organisations, including the United Nations. More than 300 universities were targeted and 8,000 professors’ email accounts were compromised.


Push for transparency on campus Confucius Institutes

Brendan O'Malley

The introduction of legislation aimed at curbing the political influence of foreign organisations on campus is raising pressure on universities to re-examine their partnerships with Confucius Institutes and consider whether they are allowing undue Chinese government influence.


Scholars divided on curbing foreign influence on campus

Yojana Sharma

Two different groups of dozens of Australian academics specialising in China studies have written separate open letters with opposing views but both claiming to support academic freedom, as a controversial new law to restrict foreign influence is being considered by an Australian parliamentary committee.


Constitutional court decision puts reform goal in doubt

Maria Elena Hurtado

Chile’s constitutional court has ruled that article 63 of the new higher education reform law that bans for-profit individuals or entities from controlling or owning universities breaks the Constitution. Political and university leaders are divided on whether this decision will allow universities to make a profit.


Integration strategy needed for international students

Michael Gardner

Germany has to do more to support and integrate international students, according to the German National Association for Student Affairs and the German Academic Exchange Service. Finding accommodation for them is the biggest challenge, especially for non-European students, who may face racism and discrimination in this respect.


Agency calls for investigation into ‘shadow doctorates’

Jan Petter Myklebust

The Swedish Higher Education Authority has accused the Karolinksa Institute of breaking the law in hiring young researchers who are competing for doctorate positions as temporary research practitioners. Critics say the practice amounts to a form of exploitation of candidates.


Move to enable recognition of Syrian refugee credits

Brendan O’Malley

A new scheme to enable Syrian refugees to have their credits and qualifications recognised in Jordan so that they can continue further studies or employment will be launched on 1 April, borrowing methodology used to help refugees in Greece, and it could be used in neighbouring countries.



Lifelong learning is more relevant than ever before

Hanne Smidt

Are European universities agile enough to provide relevant degrees and targeted courses to lifelong learners in a complex and evolving landscape or will other more flexible actors who can work in shorter timeframes take over provision?


Making brick-and-mortar universities relevant (again)

Kriengsak Chareonwongsak

People have been predicting the demise of traditional universities in the face of increasing competition from alternative, particularly online, providers, but they just need to adapt to different styles of learning and ensure what they are teaching is relevant for the future.



The case for optimism on internationalisation of HE

Alex Usher

There has been much gloom of late about the future of internationalisation of higher education, but on the balance of probabilities, barring China suddenly slamming its breaks on its students going abroad, the likeliest future is still one in which student mobility grows.



Campus free speech – Challenges for rights and values

At this year’s fourth annual Worldviews Lecture on Media and Higher Education, Professor Sigal Ben-Porath, author of Free Speech on Campus, will address the increasingly heightened debate around free speech at universities and the challenge to minority rights and democratic values. The lecture is supported by University World News.


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Report defends students’ right to debate divisive issues

Members of parliament and Peers in the United Kingdom say university students should be free to air opinions on controversial issues such as abortion and transsexualism and it is “unacceptable” that certain topics are being restricted, reports The Christian Institute.


New Delhi march to protest ‘destruction of universities’

A ‘People’s March’ from Mandi House to Parliament Street took place in New Delhi last week to protest against the “destruction of universities”. In addition to teachers, unions, students, MPs, leaders of political parties and the general public joined the march in solidarity, reports The Hindu.


Programme helps Syrian refugees pursue university study

More than 4,200 Syrian youth will benefit from Turkish academic programmes, a joint statement by the Turks Abroad and Related Communities and the UN’s refugee agency said, reports the Hurriyet Daily News. Turkey is the largest refugee-hosting country in the world with more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees.


Protests over ‘attack’ on university autonomy in Karachi

Protests have taken place outside the Karachi Press Club to condemn the Sindh Universities and Institutes Laws (Amendment) Bill 2018 recently passed by the Sindh Assembly and seen by its critics as robbing the universities of autonomy, reports The Nation.


Canada 150 lures talent fleeing Trump, guns and Brexit

Alan Aspuru-Guzik, a prominent professor of chemistry at Harvard University in the United States, who specialises in developing advanced materials for energy generation, is one of 20 newly hired Canada 150 research chairs announced on Thursday. The haul of prominent scientists appears to confirm a predicted brain gain for Canada due to reactionary politics in the United States and elsewhere, reports Ivan Semeniuk for The Globe and Mail.


Students free to join political campaigns outside campus

The higher education minister has said students from institutions of higher education are free to join political campaigns taking place outside their campuses during the 14th general elections in Malaysia, reports The Star.


Universities urged to use intellectual property laws

Zimbabwe’s institutions of higher learning and research have been challenged to protect their inventions and research under intellectual property laws, writes Whinsley Masara for the Chronicle.


Universities have too few women at the top

Universities are falling behind government targets to increase female representation on their boards by 2020. They need to take action now, writes Jenny Tester for The Guardian.


Academics oppose adoption of controversial ethics code

The Council for Higher Education has called on academic institutions to adopt a controversial code of ethics that would ban lecturers from expressing their political views in the classroom, but academics have opposed the move saying it would “stifle academic freedom”, writes Lidar Gravé-Lazi for The Jerusalem Post.


Student numbers decline fuels merger talks

Nagoya University and Gifu University say they will consider merging their operations amid a fall in the student population to create the potential first national university operator in Japan to run multiple schools, reports Japan Today.


Four universities engaged in match-making

An alliance between four of Europe’s leading universities – Sorbonne, Heidelberg, Charles and Warsaw – is the first of several expected cross-border deals following French President Emmanuel Macron’s plan for European Union academic networks, writes Richard L Hudson for Science Business.


Low birth rate forces universities to consider closure

A number of South Korean universities are on the verge of closing down because the country’s low birth rate is affecting their enrolments, sparking fears that this could impact negatively on the local economy and hurt residents most, writes Kim Hyun-bin for The Korea Times.


Universities launch phone-free classes

Several universities in northeast China's Jilin Province have introduced phone-free classes to improve academic results. When students enter the classroom, their smart phones must be placed into a bag and hung on the wall, reports Xinhua.

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