University World News Africa Edition
15 April 2018 Issue 218 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


Sustainable Development Goals – A challenge to the way we teach students

   In Africa Analysis, Willem Fourie describes a masters degree in South Africa that aims to teach the skills needed to operate in a new SDG – Sustainable Development Goal – development landscape, while Ayenachew A Woldegiyorgis looks at what a new, pro-education prime minister might mean for higher education in Ethiopia.

   In Africa Features, Alex Abutu highlights concern over the impact of plagiarism on the quality of education in Nigeria, while Reuben Kyama reflects on discussions about graduate employability at a recent forum hosted by the Goethe-Institut in Kenya.

   In News from the continent, Francis Kokutse reports on the recent Vice Chancellors Ghana meeting where a call was made for a rethink of higher education funding, and Kudzai Mashininga reports on a recent agreement between Zimbabwe and China intended to facilitate infrastructural development in Zimbabwe’s higher education sector.

   In a Special Report this week on the 2018 Next Einstein Forum Global Gathering hosted by Rwanda, Gilbert Nakweya reflects on debates about how to develop a strong ‘culture of science’ in Africa, while Munyaradzi Makoni highlights key points of a discussion on the qualities and skills needed by science leaders.

   In another Special Report this week, on the 2018 Centre for Global Higher Education conference, Michael Ignatieff, vice-chancellor of the embattled Central European University, argues that as many countries turn towards authoritarian rule, it is crucial for universities to speak up for truth, even at the risk of opposition; and Karen MacGregor looks at why efforts to tackle inequality in higher education have been largely ineffectual.

Sharon Dell – Africa editor



Minister calls for ‘rethink’ on higher education funding

Francis Kokutse

The way in which tertiary education is funded across Africa needs a rethink because the present model, which was introduced in the colonial era, can no longer be sustained, according to Ghana's Minister of State in charge of tertiary education Kwesi Yankah. Concerns around the sustainability of higher education in Ghana are growing in anticipation of increased enrolment in the wake of a recently introduced free senior high school policy.


Chinese partnership to boost HE infrastructure

Kudzai Mashininga

Zimbabwe and China have developed a framework that will pave the way for skills and infrastructure development at Zimbabwean universities and in other sectors as the African government pushes to create university towns.


New startup act throws lifeline to university graduates

Wagdy Sawahel

Tunisia has approved measures to facilitate the establishment of innovative startups in an effort to reduce graduate unemployment, tackle the academic 'brain drain' and promote the development of the digital economy.


World Bank invests in vocational education in 3 countries

Christabel Ligami

Up to 17 technical and vocational education and training institutions in Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia are set to benefit from new World Bank financing that will improve their training and research capabilities and strengthen the delivery of quality education as they seek innovative solutions to Africa’s development needs.



The SDGs are challenging the way we teach our students

Willem Fourie

Far from being a set of technically-driven policies, the Sustainable Development Goals represent a vision for a more equitable world, the achievement of which involves all social actors. A new, somewhat unconventional masters programme aims to teach graduates the skills they need to operate in a fundamentally new development landscape.


What could a new head of state mean for higher education?

Ayenachew A Woldegiyorgis

Ethiopia’s new prime minister Abiy Ahmed has pledged to improve the quality of education at all levels and has placed education at the centre of his government. But will this be enough to overcome the challenges the country faces?


The Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Global Gathering, held every two years, is a unique international science forum with a strong focus on Africa. The forum connects science, society and policy in Africa and the rest of the world – with the goal to leverage science for human development. This year, the NEF Global Gathering was held in Kigali, Rwanda from 26-28 March under the theme “Connecting Science to Humanity”.


Greater investment needed to nurture ‘culture of science’

Gilbert Nakweya

Science and technology are seen as key to Africa’s transformation and growth but greater investment in higher education and research institutions is needed if a 'culture of science' is to take root and grow, the recent Next Einstein Forum in Kigali, Rwanda has heard.


Bridging the gap for women in science and technology

Munyaradzi Makoni

Attempts to bridge the gap between women and men in science and technology fields are unlikely to be fully successful unless there are equal opportunities for women at the levels of education, career advancement and leadership positions, participants at the recent Next Einstein Forum held in Kigali heard.


What skills do the scientists of tomorrow need?

Munyaradzi Makoni

As the world’s economies and societies become increasingly dependent on knowledge production and innovation, and as development becomes increasingly contingent upon the sustainable use of natural resources, the need for effective leadership in science and research has never been greater. What skills and capacities do the scientists of tomorrow actually need to lead?


Unlocking the power of data in higher education

Gilbert Nakweya

Sub-Saharan Africa needs a strong data ecosystem devoted to the academic environment to help transform higher education in a sustainable manner, according to education experts.


Survey highlights concerns over research infrastructure

Munyaradzi Makoni

Lack of appropriate infrastructure is among factors hindering the scientific progress of fledgling scientists in Africa, says an international society of early career researchers.



Plagiarism seen to be aiding drop in education standards

Alex Abutu

The quality of Nigerian university graduates continues to be a source of concern with many of the country’s academics and stakeholders pointing to the prevalence of plagiarism and academic dishonesty in universities as a contributing factor.


How to train young people for the labour market

Reuben Kyama

Most higher education stakeholders agree that Africa’s large and growing youthful population generates a demographic dividend that needs to be tapped but how to do so within the current framework of university education remains a little less clear.


Digital platforms – Bridging the university-society gap

Laeed Zaghlami

In an effort to improve efficiency and bypass bureaucracy, academics, scholars and experts in Algeria have launched a series of online platforms to promote their work and expertise, and meet the needs of society.



Union leader blames brain drain on HE budget cuts

Tunisia is undergoing a severe brain drain partly as a result of budget cuts to the higher education and research sectors, according to Zied Ben Amor, coordinator of the Union of Tunisian University Professors and Researchers.


Ministry announces greater regulation of private HEIs

Private higher education institutions in Togo, each of which currently awards its own qualifications, will in future have to teach the same curriculum and hold the same examinations under the control of the higher education ministry.

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


PM vows to scrap job quotas after huge student protests

Mushfique Wadud

Nationwide student protests paralysed campuses in Bangladesh last week as students demanded reform of the quota system reserving government jobs for particular groups. More than 100 people were wounded in clashes with police at the University of Dhaka on 9 April as rubber bullets and tear gas were fired to disperse the crowd.


Foreign students’ economic contribution soars by 22%

Geoff Maslen

Foreign students contributed a record AU$32 billion (US$24.7 billion) to the Australian economy in 2017, up by 22% on 2016 figures, as selling education becomes the nation’s third largest export industry.


Top-down research environment stifles success – Study

Yojana Sharma

China’s higher education and research system hamstrings researchers with bureaucratic requirements, rewards quantity over quality and stifles the creativity and critical thinking necessary to achieve innovative breakthroughs, a comprehensive study of the country’s research environment has found.


Putin to boost science research funding by 150%

Eugene Vorotnikov

Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised to increase funding of national science by 150% over current levels by the end of the year, according to the press service of the Presidential Administration of Russia.


New anti-plagiarism laws not tough enough – Academics

Ranjit Devraj

India’s tough new anti-plagiarism law drawn up by the higher education regulatory body, the University Grants Commission, which sets out graded punishments depending on the seriousness of the misdemeanour, has been widely welcomed by academics – but many said there needs to be even stronger deterrence to curb copycat tendencies among students and lecturers.


Rise in vocational graduates enrolled at universities

Michael Gardner

A recent survey by the Centre for Higher Education demonstrates that more and more holders of vocational education and training qualifications are enrolling at German universities. In 2016 there were 56,900 students enrolled at universities solely via vocational experience and qualifications – twice as many as in 2010.


The third international conference of the Centre for Global Higher Education or CGHE, held in London on 11 April and titled “The New Geopolitics of Higher Education”, explored issues such as the growth of research, universities and inequality, implications of populist politics, free speech and social rights, and the changing global balance of power in higher education. This is the first of two Special Reports on the event.


The role of universities in an era of authoritarianism

Michael Ignatieff

The turn towards authoritarian rule in Russia, China, Turkey and Eastern Europe, among other places, has led to attacks on academic freedom. The role of universities is to stand up for truth. It is vital at this moment in history that universities believe in this role and have the courage to defend it.


CEU president resists move to Vienna after Orbán victory

Yojana Sharma

The president of the embattled Central European University or CEU, Michael Ignatieff, said last week: “I don’t want to move the entire operation to Vienna.” This in the wake of a landslide election victory last Sunday by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party, delivering him a third successive term in power.


Nations join emerging multi-polar global science system

Yojana Sharma

Research-intensive universities now operate as a single network on a world scale with more and more nations entering this open system particularly built around science research. It is a global network “open to enter but intensively integrated inside”, says Simon Marginson, director of the Centre for Global Higher Education.


The international transformation in student loan systems

Bruce Chapman and Lorraine Dearden

Income-contingent student loans are growing in popularity as a way of funding higher education. A well-designed system has very significant advantages over the alternative traditional student loan systems, which are heading towards extinction.


Higher education and equality – Action urgently needed

Karen MacGregor

Significant gains in widening participation and promoting equality in universities could be made by shifting from an admissions system based on ‘formal’ meritocracy to one of ‘fair’ meritocracy, says Vikki Boliver, professor of sociology at Durham University in the United Kingdom. This means taking a contextualised approach to entry requirements and not naively thinking that students compete on a level playing field when demonstrating merit through the exam system.


Equity both about getting in – and on – at university

Karen MacGregor

Higher education in the United Kingdom is riddled with inequalities, says Ben Whittaker, National Union of Students director of student voice and influence. For many students, opportunities slam shut every step of the way. Improving equality is not only about students getting in – but also on – at university.



Turning talk on higher education diversity into action

Colin Scott

For universities to act effectively on diversity requires more than policies. Leaders need to set down governance structures and implementation mechanisms which change the organisational culture of higher education.


Get serious about tackling sexual assault on campus

Miriam E David

Recent activism around sexual assault in the workplace has highlighted the scale of the problem, but now concerted action is needed. Recent studies and court cases indicate that universities have a lot to do to show that they are serious about tackling the issue.


Predatory conferences – A case of academic cannibalism

James McCrostie

Universities need more education about the dangers of predatory conferences, to take greater steps to avoid hosting predatory conferences and to start refusing to hire, promote or give funding to researchers attending and doing the organising.



Tax agreement could deter academics from going abroad

Jan Petter Myklebust

The Danish government and the Danish People’s Party struck a tax agreement in February that will introduce a residence requirement for the right to receive unemployment benefits. But the proposal has sparked outrage among academics, who say it will deter Danish researchers from gaining international experience and will damage Danish science.



Campus free speech – Minority rights, democratic values

Daniel Sekulich

Are students and academics free to speak their minds on university and college campuses in North America? And how should higher education institutions respond when one person’s free speech silences or harms another? These issues were highlighted during the fourth annual Worldviews Lecture, held on 5 April at the University of Toronto. University World News is a partner to Worldviews.



The importance of listening to university stakeholders

Nita Temmerman

Exercises that bring students, staff, community groups, industry, government and others together can be useful for moving universities forward and showing how central they are in societies.


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Government funding cuts anger top universities

Romania’s ministry of education has angered academics with a decision to cut funding for the country’s top universities, which have been increasingly critical of government policies in the past year, writes Ana Maria Luca for BIRN.


University think tank to close as Seoul pulls funding

The US-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies – the only think tank in Washington DC devoted to Korean Peninsula issues – will close next month after a dispute over funding and academic independence with the government in Seoul, writes Anna Fifield for The Washington Post.


Alberta college presidents to get a pay cut

Presidents at Alberta’s colleges and universities are getting a pay cut. Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt announced last week that Alberta is bringing in a pay grid for the 20 leaders of its post-secondary institutions, to be fully in effect two years from now, writes Dean Bennett for The Canadian Press.


Corruption rife at Nigerian universities – Report

A recent report by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has uncovered corruption in many of Nigeria’s higher education institutions, highlighting collusion among staff, students and other stakeholders, writes Iyabo Lawal for The Guardian.


International education crucial for future of work

International education and overseas study experiences will play a critical role in helping students adapt and prepare for the future of work, according to experts at the recent Asia-Pacific Association for International Education Conference in Singapore, writes Anton Crace for The PIE News.


Elite universities in early admissions probe – Report

The United States Justice Department has sent letters to top universities as it probes whether some institutions violated antitrust laws by sharing information to aid in the enforcement of their early decision policies, according to news reports, writes John Bowden for The Hill.


Four new state universities to open

Government has approved the opening of four new state universities countrywide in a move expected to consolidate Zimbabwe’s position as one of the countries with the highest number of institutions of higher learning in the region and beyond, writes Martha Leboho Masvingo for The Herald.


Most university funds now come from local donors

Donations to local universities from South African philanthropists now exceed the income they derive from abroad, according to the latest Annual Survey of Philanthropy in Higher Education, reports Dan Meyer for Business Day.


Bridging the skills gap through technology

Zhao Lijian, deputy chief of mission at the embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Islamabad, has said that Pakistani students would be given opportunities to acquire contemporary education in different fields in Chinese universities, writes Muhammad Farooq for The News International.


Universities discuss cooperation to boost science

A delegation from the University of Dubai recently visited the People’s Republic of China to discuss scientific and academic cooperation with Peking and Ningxia universities and the Confucius Institute, write Esraa Ismail and Rasha Abubaker for Emirates News Agency.


Highly-ranked state university will mentor others

One of India’s top 10 institutions, Savitribai Phule Pune University, will mentor other universities in the state of Maharashtra to help them fare better in the National Institutional Ranking Framework, reports The Times of India.


Affirmative action policy boosts disabled student numbers

After five years of failed attempts, student Renato Xavier de Oliveira finally managed to get into a public university this year, relying on an affirmative action policy for disabled people established by the federal government in 2016 to achieve the feat, writes Jairo Marques for Folha de S.Paulo.


Universities must review poorly attended courses

A study of the placement data released by the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service showed that some courses did not attract any students, raising questions as to why taxpayers’ money is being used to sustain them, writes Augustine Oduor for the Standard Digital.


Two more universities in basketball inducement probe

The University of Kansas and North Carolina State University have become embroiled in the college sport inducement scandal after federal prosecutors in New York elected to expand the case, which involves German sportswear manufacturer Adidas, reports Sport Business.

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