The ongoing challenge of funding universities.

University World News Africa Edition
26 August 2018 Issue 225 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


The limits of a market-driven agenda in building sustainable universities

   In Africa Features, Wachira Kigotho discusses the deleterious effects of marketisation on universities in Kenya, while Gilbert Nganga focuses on the austerity measures introduced in the country’s flagship university in Nairobi.

   The concept of ‘The African university’ is taken further in our Africa Analysis by Mahmood Mamdani who traces some of the colonial origins of universities in Africa and suggests possible ways in which to “theorise our own reality” and to “strike the right balance between the local and the global as we do so”. In another analysis, Mia Perry and Deepa Pullanikkatil suggest some “necessary” changes to the traditional methodologies of collaboration between the Global North and South.

   In news from around the African continent, Wagdy Sawahel reports on the recent exposure of a masters-for-money scandal in Morocco, and Esther Nakkazi writes about the launch of a new masters course in machine intelligence in Rwanda to be funded by Facebook and Google.

   In a special report on work-integrated learning and cooperative education, Sharon Dell provides highlights of a recent conference held near Durban, South Africa, which discussed some of the current challenges to the efficient implementation of work-integrated learning in South African institutions.

   In our World Blog this week, William Leonard suggests that the many smaller US colleges that admit students who are not ready for higher education and often drop out after their first year, should reduce their enrolment to achieve sustainability.

Sharon Dell – Editor



One person arrested in masters-for-money scandal

Wagdy Sawahel

A person has been arrested and a senior member of Transparency Maroc has been suspended from the association in the wake of allegations that students were being asked to pay over US$4,000 to guarantee a place on a university masters course in Morocco.


New masters to boost machine intelligence talent pool

Esther Nakkazi

A new African masters in machine intelligence funded by Google and Facebook seeks to create a community of machine intelligence practitioners in Africa to reduce the technology gap, build Africa’s economies and ultimately promote better governance.


Global network to boost HE capacity and PhD numbers

Primarashni Gower

A higher education network that entails American and South African universities working together will strengthen various aspects of the South African higher education system, including the expansion of the PhD graduate pipeline.


SADC approves new university to boost industrialisation

Kudzai Mashininga

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) region has approved the establishment of the SADC University of Transformation to train citizens in innovation to facilitate industrialisation in the region.


Government launches national qualifications framework

Kudzai Mashininga

Zimbabwe has started implementing a new national qualifications framework which the government says will increase the accessibility, efficiency and relevance of its higher education sector within and outside the country.


Universities mourn death of statesman Kofi Annan

The Association of African Universities has expressed its profound shock and sadness at the death of former United Nations secretary general, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former University of Ghana chancellor Kofi Annan.


Upcoming African Universities Week to focus on youth

The Association of African Universities has called on all higher education institutions in Africa to join in and celebrate the 2018 African Universities Week from 12-16 November, which is aimed at highlighting the achievements, challenges and opportunities of the sector and attracting increased support.


Qualifications database falters over lack of funds

Gilbert Nganga

Kenya’s bid to set up a national platform for graduate information has hit a snag over lack of funds, setting back the bid to crack down on the proliferation of sub-standard qualifications in the higher education sector.


President suspends vice-chancellor over Grace Mugabe PhD

Kudzai Mashininga

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has suspended University of Zimbabwe Vice-chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura for allegedly awarding former first lady Grace Mugabe a doctor of philosophy degree ‘corruptly’ in 2014.


Concern over student loan scheme as chair steps down

Sharon Dell

The resignation of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme board chairperson has raised further concerns about instability in the scheme which came under excessive pressure after the announcement last December of free higher education for poor students in South Africa.


PAU appeals for patience as applications flood in

Maina Waruru

The Pan African University (PAU) has appealed to applicants for patience after it received over 13,000 applications for its 400 places in its various thematic institutes located in Kenya, Nigeria, Cameroon and Algeria for the upcoming academic year of 2018-19. The total of 13,048 applications is the highest number since the institution became operational in 2012.



The African university

Mahmood Mamdani

The alternative to simply applying Western theory in African universities is to theorise our own reality, and to strike the right balance between the local and the global as we do so.


A new approach to global research partnerships

Mia Perry and Deepa Pullanikkatil

Changes to the traditional methodologies of collaboration between the Global North and South are necessary. That means engaging with communities in ways that allow them to contribute their traditional knowledge and co-design the research agenda.


Should a degree be compulsory for parliamentarians?

Damtew Teferra

Ethiopian parliamentarians are involved in the enactment of legislation and other complex issues of national importance. Should they have at least a bachelor degree in order to qualify as parliamentarians or is that notion fundamentally elitist and undemocratic?



Universities feel the brunt of a market-driven agenda

Wachira Kigotho

A quarter of a century ago, Uganda’s Makerere University embarked on an academic journey hitherto undreamt of in Sub-Saharan Africa: the intensive marketisation of higher education.


Top university adopts austerity measures to stem decline

Gilbert Nganga

The University of Nairobi, Kenya’s oldest and most decorated public university, has announced several austerity measures to manage a biting financial crunch and tame a huge deficit that promises to bring down the university. This has been made worse by rapidly declining student numbers, especially in respect of its former cash-cow: the self-sponsored student programme.


Scholarship programme supports youth with big dreams

Esther Nakkazi

A scholarship programme targeting bright but disadvantaged young people is giving them a chance not only to succeed academically and professionally, but play a long-term role in uplifting their own communities.


The Southern African Society for Cooperative Education’s third Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) Conference took place near Durban, South Africa, from 18-20 July 2018 co-hosted by a range of universities of technology and technical and vocational education and training institutions. This year’s theme was ‘WIL: Policy to Implementation’ and focused on challenges facing the implementation of WIL, employability of graduates and curriculum issues including assessment and decolonisation of education.


Making work-integrated learning actually work

Sharon Dell

Work-integrated learning in the higher education space may be considered a 'silver bullet' when it comes to effectively combating societal inequality by enhancing graduate employability, but when it comes to its implementation, the concept continues to be the subject of some wrangling among stakeholders.


Work-integrated learning – Challenging the ivory tower

Sharon Dell

Work-integrated learning has become a “social, economic and educational imperative”, which deserves greater support than it currently receives from all stakeholders, including higher education institutions, government and industry, says Carva Pop, president of the Southern African Society for Cooperative Education.


Cooperative education – A win-win solution for society

Sharon Dell

Far more than a philanthropic exercise, work-integrated learning offers a win-win situation for students, universities, industry and society. In addition to boosting the employment rate of students, it offers a path towards sustainable development, nurturing the “brilliant minds” needed to produce “revolutionary solutions” to global challenges.



HE minister calls for more emphasis on science

Minister for Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation Maria do Rosário Sambo has said Angola should strengthen its teaching of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and all sciences contributing to technological knowledge, throughout the education system.


Ministry to evict illegal residents in student housing

Madagascar's Higher Education and Scientific Research Minister Marie Monique Rasoazananera has expressed her determination to evict those individuals who have no right to live in official student accommodation and who are causing serious overcrowding.


Lecturers look forward to ‘decent’ pensions

After a long campaign, higher education and research unions have concluded an agreement with the government of Senegal to secure a ‘decent’ retirement pension for their members which will entail academics working an extra hour a week.

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


Call for sweeping changes in tertiary education system

Geoff Maslen

The Australian government should assume responsibility for all tertiary education and training while the differences in funding between universities and technical colleges should be abolished, a new report says. The radical proposals are among a sweeping set of recommendations by the multinational professional service company, KPMG.


Visa rules reformed to attract more foreign students

John Gerritsen

All international students in higher education in New Zealand will be eligible for three-year work visas under reforms of post-study work rights, aimed at attracting more enrolments and stamping out abuse by unscrupulous employers who have been misusing employer-assisted visas to trap students in underpaid work.


Revamp of university regulatory body faces opposition

Shuriah Niazi

The Indian government's move to replace the higher education regulator, the University Grants Commission, with a new body to improve quality and allow institutions more autonomy faces opposition in parliament and criticism that it would increase government control and politicisation of education.


China, US lead on gains in ARWU university ranking

Brendan O'Malley

China and the United States are the biggest gainers in the latest Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), with respectively six and four more universities in the top 500, but there is no movement at the very top with Harvard University leading for the 16th year running.


Marked progress in students taking less time to graduate

Michael Gardner

More students in Germany are obtaining degrees within a reasonable time than in the early years of the Bologna reforms, with traditional universities making the most marked progress, particularly in mathematics, education science and civil and environmental engineering departments, a new survey shows.


Rectors support campaign for deported student’s appeal

Jan Petter Myklebust

University leaders have rallied to support Professor Anne Husebekk, rector of the University of Tromsø in Norway, who has been criticised for organising a campaign to raise funds for an appeal against a decision to reject a student’s residence visa application.



Universities – The creators of the new wealth of nations

Ian Jacobs

Universities make an enormous contribution to the economic and social wealth of nations through education and research, but have failed to communicate their value clearly to the public and that is contributing to the current climate of criticism.


What do the international HE programme closures mean?

Futao Huang

Why did the Chinese government recently terminate more than 200 internationally collaborative academic programmes and five internationally collaborative institutions and what does this mean for overseas institutions looking to partner with China?


Why the Bologna Process works for higher education

Anne Corbett

The Bologna Process has made progress because of the nature of its structure, stakeholders and members, including the European Commission, and an emphasis on support over sanctions. Due to resource issues, the commission holds the power of life and death over the Bologna Process.


Can we measure education quality in global rankings?

Philip G Altbach and Ellen Hazelkorn

The race is on to establish a global teaching ranking, but experience shows that without due care the choice of ranking indicators can lead to unintended consequences. Currently, it is just not possible to adequately assess education quality for purposes of international comparisons.


Towards a global hub of collaborative research

Thomas Ekman Jørgensen

Brexit could prove an interesting test case for research-intensive countries outside the European Union that wish to contribute to the region’s research programme, showing if and how the balancing act between contribution and influence can be reached.



Admitting students who later drop out is harmful

William Leonard

Too many colleges in the United States are tuition-fee dependent and admit students who are not ready for higher education, many of whom require remedial support and drop out after their first year. The solution is counter intuitive: they need to reduce their enrolment to achieve sustainability.



Russian trolls stoke public discord on vaccine science

Brendan O'Malley

Twitter bots and Russian trolls have spread disinformation and pushed the public to question the science behind vaccine campaigns – and in some cases the messages were sent from accounts used to interfere in the 2016 United States presidential election, a new study reveals.



Overseas China scholars face self-censorship dilemma

Yojana Sharma

As China combines internal censorship and a crackdown in its Xinjiang region, with aggressive verbal attacks and informal pressure on overseas academics, the self-censorship dilemma is becoming acute for overseas scholars who comment on China’s human rights, Tibet, Taiwan independence and other sensitive topics.


University of California nears funding tipping point

Brendan O’Malley

After years of declining funding and rising enrolment, the University of California system is nearing a ‘tipping point’ where it cannot continue to grow with California’s population and labour needs without seeking new revenues and state reinvestment, according to a new report.


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Universities advertise ‘women-only’ roles in gender push

A growing number of Australian universities are advertising ‘female-only’ roles in a bid to encourage women to apply for historically male-dominated jobs, writes Alice Murphy for Daily Mail Australia.


UK universities criticised for pursuit of Egyptian links

In a letter signed by more than 200 prominent academics, leading British universities have been accused of turning a blind eye to human rights abuses in Egypt, including unanswered questions about the abduction and murder of Cambridge PhD student Giulio Regeni, in pursuit of opening campuses under the country’s authoritarian regime, writes Ben Quinn for The Guardian.


Challenges of creating world-class universities in China

The obsession with internationalisation in China had resulted in priority being given to overseas scholars and graduates and has diminished graduates of many top domestic universities to second- or third-class status, writes Jia Song for Inside Higher Ed.


Universities back call to end technical education gap

Universities UK has responded positively to a new report from the Higher Education Policy Institute calling on universities to reverse the collapse in technical education in England, reports FENews.


Universities push to lure students from ‘risky markets’

Major universities are outsourcing background checks to a small start-up firm in a bid to crack down on fraud and misrepresentation in the booming international student market as they push into ‘riskier’ regions. The firm has been swamped with interest from universities keen to lure students from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Ghana and western Africa, writes Michael Koziol for The Canberra Times.


Minister steps in to resolve funding problems

Universities South Africa says that it is pleased with the steps taken by Higher Education and Training Minister Naledi Pandor in an attempt to resolve the problems which the National Student Financial Aid Scheme has been battling with, writes Michael Pedro for EyeWitness News.


Universities ordered to ban junk food on campus

The University Grants Commission has issued a notice to vice-chancellors of all universities directing them to ban junk food on college premises. This comes as a reminder of the advisory issued in November 2016 for banning junk food in colleges to “set new standards for healthy food and reduce obesity levels in young learners”, reports ANI.


Row over effectiveness of provincial universities

Suggestions to close down universities in provinces and to improve the way higher education centres are run in big cities across Vietnam are causing controversy, reports Viet Nam News.


President pledges support to RUFORUM

Malawi’s President Professor Peter Mutharika, ‘champion for higher education in Africa’, has pledged to support the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) activities in advancing broader investment in higher education with a focus on science and technology, writes Manasse Nyirenda-Mana for Nyasa Times.


Amazon expands Alexa Fund Fellowship

American electronic commerce and cloud computing company Amazon has expanded its Alexa Fund Fellowship, a programme designed to fund and support researchers and universities working on voice technology, from four universities to 18, including its hometown institution, the University of Washington, reports Nat Levy for GeekWire.


Universities recognised for cyber security research

Three universities in the United Kingdom have been recognised as ‘Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research’, highlighting the breadth of cyber security skills that are being developed in the UK, writes Neil Tyler for New Electronics.


Universities ready to roll with cannabis legalisation

The legalisation of cannabis is around the corner and, as universities get underway in the coming weeks, New Brunswick universities in Canada say they’re prepared to roll with it, but students will not be allowed to grow cannabis in residence or smoke on campus property, writes Sarah Morin for CBC News.

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