University World News Africa Edition
6 May 2018 Issue 219 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


Understanding today’s student – A first step towards higher success rates

   In our lead Africa feature on student engagement, we highlight some of the key features of a recent national survey of first-year students in South Africa coordinated by the Centre for Teaching and Learning at the University of the Free State, which challenges some of the prevailing perceptions around first-year students in the country and points to ways in which universities can use data to support contemporary students more effectively. A new book on student engagement which speaks directly to the survey is also reviewed here.

   In Africa Analysis, Damtew Teferra says the Continental Education Strategy for Africa – unlike the Sustainable Development Goals – places higher education firmly at the centre of the continent’s development, where it belongs, while Wondwosen Tamrat argues in favour of more meaningful student participation in university governance in Ethiopia.

   Also in Africa Features, Christabel Ligami illustrates the plight of students in Kenyan universities whose lives have been put on hold by repeated lecturer strikes, and Wagdy Sawahel reports on some of the discussions at a recent pan-African meeting in Cairo to discuss the African Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in Higher Education.

   In News from around the continent, Ashraf Khaled reports on an inquiry into an Egyptian lecturer accused of defaming two prominent clerics in his book, while Rodrigue Rwirahira reports on the growing demand for Chinese language courses in Rwanda.

   In a Special Report on the recent Going Global 2018 conference in Malaysia, Ahmed Bawa, chief executive officer of Universities South Africa, says there is a need for universities to deliver to both global and local publics to boost the sector’s weakened legitimacy and reshape the relationship between universities and society.

Sharon Dell – Africa Editor



Lecturer probed over alleged defamation of top clerics

Ashraf Khaled

An Egyptian state-run university last week suspended a lecturer before instituting an internal inquiry into comments he wrote in a book which allegedly insult prominent Muslim clerics.


High student interest spurs new advanced Chinese course

Rodrigue Rwirahira

Olivier Maombi, a 22-year-old university student who completed his Chinese language training two years ago, has landed a part-time job in an assembly plant and sales point for imported Chinese motorbikes. He is among a growing number of young Rwandans choosing to study Chinese through the Confucius Institute based at the University of Rwanda.


Universities to host World Bank-funded research centres

Kudzai Mashininga

Zambia has launched two centres of excellence supported by World Bank financing amounting to US$12 million that will improve training and research capabilities at two of the country’s state universities.


Universities can help to stem migration – Academic

Tonderayi Mukeredzi

Higher institutions of learning can stop migration and the export of higher-level skills by training students and other populations to influence and change their political, social and economic environments, a senior lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe has said.


Open university set to meet growing demand for HE

Francis Kokutse

Open universities are helping to increase access to higher education across Africa as it becomes more apparent that the demand for brick-and-mortar facilities cannot be met by resource-constrained governments, the pro vice-chancellor of Laweh Open University College in Ghana, Josiah Cobbah, told University World News.



CESA – A true guide for the continent’s aspirations

Damtew Teferra

Unlike the Sustainable Development Goals, the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA) places higher education firmly at the centre of the continent’s development – where it belongs.


Do students have a say in university governance?

Wondwosen Tamrat

Student participation in university governance has become a universal trend, but in Ethiopia, as in many other higher education contexts, it continues to face challenges, ranging from ambivalence to strong resistance.


A court decision with consequences for languages in HE

Rosemary Salomone

A court decision backing the University of South Africa offering English-only courses could have potentially far-reaching consequences for languages policy in South African higher education. The ruling’s multilingual turn and conciliatory tone will influence university policies and future court decisions on language rights.



First-years are not arrogant, entitled or lazy – Survey

Sharon Dell

Are South African universities making optimal use of the attitudes, aspirations, academic skills and resilience of their first-year students or are they focused too closely on where students are perceived to be lacking?


Creating the conditions for student success

Wendy Kilfoil

A recently published book on student engagement – defined as “students devoting their time to educationally purposeful activities” – shows that by using data one can move away from ‘myth’ and perception to evidence-based practices to improve student success rates on the one hand and teaching and support practices on the other.


Quality assurance – Guidelines for the ‘quiet revolution’

Wagdy Sawahel

African universities have been urged to adopt and implement the newly-developed African Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in Higher Education as part of a pan-continental move to improve higher education quality.


Lecturer strike means years of wasted time for students

Christabel Ligami

Students pursuing certain programmes at Kenyan public universities have been unable to attend lectures consistently for more than a year owing to repeated strikes by lecturers over salaries and conditions of service. As a result, the quality of learning has been affected, not to mention the fact that the future of hundreds of young Kenyans hangs in the balance.


We should expect more student protests, say academics

Tunde Fatunde

Without greater financial support for higher education from the Nigerian government, academics believe the prolonged student unrest over fee hikes will continue, and possibly become a fixed feature of the higher education landscape.


Falling student numbers – A shift in the HE landscape

Gilbert Nganga

Private investors and the Kenyan government are staring at millions of dollars in losses as several universities record falling student numbers, leaving universities with significant underutilised capacity.



University to host US-funded agricultural research unit

Senegal’s Université Alioune Diop de Bambey will accommodate a regional agriculture centre to revitalise the country’s agricultural potential, with support from a USAID research programme.


2iE Centre of Excellence to host workshop, student fair

The International Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering (2iE) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, is among 22 Africa Centres of Excellence which have made “remarkable” efforts towards addressing regional developmental challenges and promoting applied research, according to the Association of African Universities.

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


EC proposes budget increases for research and Erasmus+

Brendan O’Malley

The European Commission (EC) has called for a 30% increase in the European Union’s research budget and a doubling of the budget for Erasmus+ in its proposal for the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-27, which it presented to the European Parliament on 2 May.


International student numbers near half a million

Yojana Sharma

The number of foreign students studying at universities on the Chinese mainland is closing in on the half a million mark, with 489,200 students in 2017, according to the latest figures from the ministry of education in Beijing released last week.


Minister’s decision puts university autonomy ‘in crisis’

Mimi Leung

Taiwan’s association of publicly-funded national universities has slammed the government for interfering in decisions to hire university leaders, as Taiwan’s new education minister became the second to reject the appointment of the president of National Taiwan University, leaving university autonomy in crisis, according to academics.


International students left in lurch by US university

Binod Ghimire and Yojana Sharma

Dozens of students from Nepal have been left in the lurch after an American university – the University of Texas at Tyler, part of the University of Texas system – revoked full scholarships granted for their undergraduate studies, as they were making final preparations to enrol.


Macron’s vision of universities networks moves forward

Jan Petter Myklebust and Brendan O'Malley

French President Emmanuel Macron’s vision of building networks of European universities is gaining support from existing university networks, but there are questions over whether the European Commission or member states should lead such an initiative.


Minister demands action to protect campus free speech

Brendan O'Malley

The universities minister, Sam Gyimah, has called on universities to end "institutional hostility" to unfashionable points of view in student societies and has demanded action to further protect free speech at universities from being curbed by the rise of ‘safe spaces’ and ‘no platform’ policies.


Berkeley reviews how to handle controversial speakers

Chris Qunitana, The Chronicle of Higher Education

If a student group wants to provoke a frenzy with an event at the University of California at Berkeley, it soon may have to tell the administration why, and provide volunteer monitors to deal with any resulting unruliness.


Pact to attract 10,000 more STEM candidates by 2025

Jan Petter Myklebust

The Danish government has launched a Technology Pact with more than 80 partners from higher education, research and business to seek to increase the number of candidates selecting STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – subjects by 20%, or 10,000 candidates by 2025.


New Commonwealth scholarships honour Queen’s role

Paul Flather

Commonwealth ties are to be enhanced across the 53 member nations over the coming years with the announcement of 150 new graduate scholarships, named in honour of the head of the Commonwealth, and geared to supporting students in low- and middle-income countries.


University considers a name change to avoid confusion

John Gerritsen

Victoria University of Wellington is considering changing its name because it is repeatedly confused with other institutions around the world with a similar name. The university announced last week it was considering dropping the monarch’s title from its name and becoming ‘the University of Wellington’.



Funding for fundamental research is under threat

Gwilym Croucher

President Donald Trump’s rhetoric has been hostile to science, particularly on climate change, and the ‘social contract’ for science and research now looks more tentative than at any time since the Space Race. To remain viable universities must work harder to restate their science mission.


Preparing students to face the unknown unknowns

Patrick Thaddeus Jackson

Teaching facts and skills to international relations students is insufficient in a hugely changing world. They need to be able to exercise judgment. Higher education must be more than a repository of facts or a mere adjunct to the world of work.


Towards a Bologna Digital strategy for higher education

Dominic Orr, Peter van der Hijden, Florian Rampelt, Ronny Röwert and Renata Suter

Digitalisation should not be viewed as an additional challenge, but as a powerful means to meet existing challenges for higher education. So far the full potential of digitalisation has not been reached on a systemic level and a common strategy is required.



The challenge of harmonising research ethics standards

Grace Karram Stephenson and Emmanuelle Fick

A debate is under way in Canada about the power of research ethics boards, whether their role as gatekeepers needs some limits and, in the context of a large decentralised country, whether there is a need to harmonise ethics reviews across the country.


The British Council’s Going Global 2018 conference for leaders of international education was held in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia last week. The theme was ‘Global Connections, Local Impact’. University World News covers the event.


ASEAN student, academic mobility is patchy – Report

Yojana Sharma

Student and academic mobility, particularly within the Southeast Asian regions, underpins the region’s globalisation of higher education, with concerted efforts to streamline visa procedures across the region to aid student mobility. But other social and political hurdles remain, according to a British Council study.


Blended learning seen as key to improving HE access

Glenda Crosling and Angela Lee Siew Hoong

Blended learning provides good opportunities for universities in Malaysia to include under-represented students better – which is why the aim is for 70% of programmes to use it by 2025 – but its impact on students’ retention, progress and achievement needs to be monitored.


Do universities suffer from having too many masters?

Ahmed Bawa

A lot is now demanded of universities. Rather than a weakness, we should see the need to deliver to multiple publics – both local and global – as a way of boosting higher education’s weakened legitimacy and reshaping the relationship between universities and local and global society.


Widening university participation needs a global network

Graeme Atherton

A new international initiative aims to strengthen the efforts being undertaken to meet the different national challenges of widening access to higher education by articulating common global objectives and promoting innovation in access work across the world.



Family fears for health of scholar sentenced to death

Sofia Karlsson and Denis Aslan

Iranian scholar Ahmadreza Djalali, a specialist in disaster medicine who returned home to share his knowledge, has been imprisoned for two years without a fair trial and sentenced to death. He has lost in total 20kg and his family fear for his life.



US physician fights Ukraine’s medical academic mafia

Ararat L Osipian

Ukraine’s American acting minister of health is struggling to make headway in her battle with university rectors over cases of alleged corruption. Since extortion, embezzlement and fraud dominate the landscape of Ukrainian hospitals and clinics, why should medical universities be any different?


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All teaching staff must hold PhDs by 2021

From 2021, a PhD will be a must for teaching at university level in India, even for assistant professors, which is the entry level designation for instructors in universities, according to a draft policy document, writes Neelam Pandey for the Hindustan Times.


University faculties unite against being divided

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Istanbul and Ankara recently, demonstrating against the government's proposal to split off faculties from many of Turkey's universities to form ‘new’ schools, writes Fehim Tastekin for Al-Monitor.


Government mulls restrictions on Chinese researchers

The Trump administration, concerned about China’s growing technological prowess, is considering strict measures to block Chinese citizens from performing sensitive research at American universities and research institutes over fears they may be acquiring intellectual secrets, write Ana Swanson and Keith Bradsher for The New York Times.


Behind the barricades at protest-hit universities

Anti-capitalist graffiti on the walls, broken furniture and piles of litter: protests by students in French universities have blocked teaching and led to hundreds of thousands of euros’ worth of damage in recent weeks, reports AFP.


President calls for world-class universities

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for the building of competent teaching teams, a high-level talent training system and world-class universities as International Youth Day approaches, writes Weida Li for GB Times.


Universities to grant credits for reserve duty

University students who serve long stretches in the Israel Defense Forces’ reserves will be eligible to receive two academic credits, the Association of University Heads in Israel announced last week, writes Lidar Gravé-Lazi for The Jerusalem Post.


Rush to internationalise with local push

Like many institutions around the world, Hong Kong universities want to pursue internationalisation to become and remain globally competitive. This is partly driven by university rankings systems which include international indicators in their ranking criteria, write Erica Li, Soohyun Kim and Brianna To for the Hong Kong Free Press.


Students want controversial graduation fees scrapped

A row over graduation fees at a leading Scottish university has sparked calls for the charges to be scrapped. Student leaders said the £50 (US$68) fees currently charged by many institutions should be abolished, writes Andrew Denholm for The Herald.


Welsh universities urged to crack the code

Cardiff and Swansea universities will receive £1.2 million (US$1.6 million) to support their involvement in the United Kingdom-wide Institute of Coding and help create the next generation of coding experts. The investment is on top of a £1.3 million drive to connect Welsh pupils with coding, Cracking the Code, which was announced last year, writes Chris Middleton for Business Quarter.


Macron's call attracts six more US-based scientists

Six more United States-based scientists have been selected to take part in French President Emmanuel Macron's call to "Make our Planet Great Again", which was announced in response to President Donald Trump pulling the US out of the Paris climate agreement, writes Sophie Tatum for CNN.


Stop commercialising education, students urge government

Hundreds of students from various universities in Medan, North Sumatra, staged a rally last Wednesday to call on the government to stop what they call the commercialisation of education, writes Apriadi Gunawan for The Jakarta Post.


More than 20 universities rescind Cosby’s degrees

The University of South Carolina will consider rescinding Bill Cosby's honorary degree after the comedian was found guilty on three counts of aggravated indecent assault last month, joining another 20 institutions in the United States that have already done so, writes Lucas Daprile for The State.

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