China ramps up support for higher education in Africa

University World News Africa Edition
9 September 2018 Issue 226 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


China pledges more support, deepening its investment in African higher education

   In News, Esther Nakkazi reports on new plans by China, announced at last week’s Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, to provide more support for higher education and vocational training in Africa, and Wagdy Sawahel reports on the opening of a Confucius Institute in Tunisia as part of China’s growing educational influence in North African Arab countries.

   In Africa Features, Azzeddine Bensouiah reports on the pressure mounting on Algerian public higher education institutions to meet growing demand for quality higher education, while Stephen Coan interviews Professor Willem Fourie about a new book produced by the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Hub at the University of Pretoria in South Africa which highlights the disconnect between academic research and policy-making in the context of the SDGs.

   In Africa Analysis, Nazli Abrahams reveals how a partnership is helping to build the capacity of South African universities to tap into local donor funding – with some encouraging results; and in Student View a group of postgraduate students from a variety of disciplines at Rhodes University in South Africa discusses the ‘public good’ value of postgraduate education.

   The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and its impact on higher education in South Africa is taken up in two articles this week – one by Sharon Dell who interviews Central University of Technology Vice-chancellor Professor Henk de Jager on his vision of a ‘model’ university of technology; and another by Edwin Naidu who writes about a range of initiatives through which universities are embracing the 4IR.

   In our World Blog, Patrick Blessinger, Enakshi Sengupta and Mandla Makhanya contend that higher education institutions have a critical role to play in driving sustainable development, which deals not only with environmental issues but also economic, social and cultural issues.

Sharon Dell – Editor



China ramps up support for African higher education

Esther Nakkazi

China is to further increase its support for African higher education and vocational training and has pledged to provide 50,000 government scholarships and 50,000 training opportunities for seminars and workshops to Africa – and will invite 2,000 young Africans to visit China for exchanges.


Arab-Chinese HE cooperation on the rise

Wagdy Sawahel

The opening of the first Confucius Institute in Tunisia this year is the latest expression of China’s ongoing bid to expand its influence in higher education in Arab countries of the North African region.


eLearning Africa – Where opportunity meets innovation

Some of the biggest names in global education and technology will be attending the upcoming eLearning Africa conference – the largest in Africa on learning, training and technology – to be held in Kigali, Rwanda, later this month.


Radio-astronomy project expected to boost PhD numbers

Nicola Jenvey

A ZAR70 million (US$4.6 million) global radio-astronomy project unveiled in Durban, South Africa, recently will conduct groundbreaking science in astrophysics while building on existing excellence in research by encouraging further doctoral and post-doctoral studies.


Government promotes TVET sector as ‘preferable’ option

Gilbert Nganga

Kenya has kicked off a series of reforms to drive up the growth of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions to hit an enrolment target of 3.1 million over the next five years. This will place the institutions under a new tighter regulatory regime to boost the quality of learning and increase access to post-school education.


Calls for more investment in geospatial education

Gilbert Nakweya

Geospatial technologies and space science have an indispensable role to play in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through the measurement and management of resources, but most African universities lack the capacity for increased earth observation activities, a recent conference has heard.


Agricultural higher education project calls for proposals

Maina Waruru

The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture in collaboration with the governments of Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Malawi and Mozambique and the World Bank have launched a call for proposals for a multimillion dollar higher education agriculture project intended to boost human resource capacity for the transformation of agriculture.


Students remain hopeful after president’s inauguration

Kudzai Mashininga

Following the inauguration of Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa two weeks ago, there is hope that a new progressive era beckons for the country’s higher education sector.



Helping universities to open the door to donor support

Nazli Abrahams

More South African universities are geared towards long-term sustainability thanks to a visionary partnership which is building capacity in university fundraising offices with a view to increasing opportunities for more under-resourced students to access tertiary education.


Helping young scientists to achieve their potential

Anna Coussens, Abidemi James Akindele, Badre Abdeslam, Fridah Kanana and Mona Khoury-Kassabri

Young African scientists face a number of barriers, but a new project has identified that leadership skills imparted through targeted training programmes can create incentives for young scientists to stay in academia and pursue long-term careers.



HE system under pressure as student numbers mount

Azzeddine Bensouiah

On the eve of the academic year in Algeria this month, there are concerns about how the government can meet the expectations of free quality higher education on the part of increasing numbers of university students – this year over 1.7 million.


New book on SDGs calls for closer research-policy link

Stephen Coan

A government policy-maker needs to find a solution to a water sanitation problem. Simple, tap into the latest research. Problem solved. If only. A new book addresses the frequent disconnect between research producers and policy-makers – a disconnect in urgent need of a solution if the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are to be achieved.


Students pin hopes on successful university unbundling

Joy Ndovi

Will the current process of unbundling the University of Malawi into five separate institutions produce the promises of improved efficiency and better student services? Alicia Kamwendo, a bachelor of commerce sophomore at the Malawi Polytechnic certainly hopes so.


Uncertainty prevails over university staff pension scheme

Tunde Fatunde

An academic staff pension scheme has been set up by the Academic Staff Union of Universities as an alternative to the existing compulsory contributory fund which has become increasingly dysfunctional as a result of government’s failure to subsidise it. Until the new scheme is formally up and running, however, uncertainty among staff members continues.


Reimagining a university of technology for future growth

Sharon Dell

Advances in the field of additive manufacturing – more commonly known as 3D printing – have put the Central University of Technology (CUT) squarely on the world map, particularly with regard to the manufacturing of medical devices. But that’s just a starting point for an ambitious bid to “reimagine” the institution and create a “model university of technology in Africa” with applied research as an important element of its identity, according to CUT Vice-chancellor Professor Henk de Jager.


4IR – The heartbeat of university innovation

Edwin Naidu

South African universities are embracing the challenges and opportunities presented by the digital industrial revolution, better known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).



Defending the ‘public good’ in postgraduate studies

Thandokazi Silosini, Tebadi Bopape, Nelisa Khambule and Nnamdi Nwahara

Postgraduate students in all disciplines have a vital role to play in contributing to the public’s understanding of the world and in tackling the complex challenges facing it. They also need to make sure they do not lose their commitment to knowledge as a public good.



Dean criticised for violating faculty’s apolitical status

A human rights non-governmental organisation has criticised the dean of the University of Kinshasa’s social sciences faculty for supporting a candidate in the country’s presidential election in the name of the university, in violation of its apolitical status.


Students denounce authorities’ grants maladministration

A students’ association in Togo has condemned authorities’ 'ill will’ and 'lack of care’ which it says has resulted in failure to pay students their due grants and benefits.

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


The perils of fieldwork in authoritarian states

Yojana Sharma

‘One size fits all’ recommendations on field research presume the setting to be liberal democratic regimes, but this is not the case in much of Southeast Asia, where doctoral students and researchers in the social and political sciences need more training to deal with the pressures they might face under authoritarian regimes.


Survey reveals overseas China scholars’ self-censorship

Yojana Sharma

Repressive experiences while conducting research on China may be rare but are a "real phenomenon" and a barrier to doing research in the country, leading some scholars to self-censor and others to change or abandon research focus, a new study reveals.


Minister supports international student visa change

Brendan O'Malley

The universities ministers has backed a call by universities for a new visa to allow international students to gain work experience for up to two years after graduation, to enable the United Kingdom to compete more effectively with the United States, Australia and Canada.


Government slashes university intake as population falls

Aimee Chung

Some 116 universities and colleges in South Korea will hear this month that their student intake quota will be reduced – in some cases by up to 35% in the coming year – as the government forces the higher education sector to adjust to demographic decline.


Union proposes better employment for foreign academics

Jan Petter Myklebust

Foreign-born academics in Sweden are disproportionately overqualified for their job or unemployed and action should be taken to make better use of their talent, according to a new analysis. This could generate an estimated US$1.4 billion income for the public purse annually.


Minister moots mandatory study abroad for students

Jan Petter Myklebust

Norway’s Minister of Research and Higher Education, Iselin Nybø, is considering making a student exchange period abroad mandatory rather than the exception it is today, after statistics revealed the percentage of Norwegian students on exchanges abroad in 2017 was lower than in 2010.


Universities have cut degree completion delay by half

Jan Petter Myklebust

Three years after reforms were brought in to cut delays in degree completion time, they have been cut in half. But universities are still under pressure to ensure that students are working full time and that investment in higher education gives value for money.


Student housing increasingly a problem, survey finds

Michael Gardner

The student housing situation in Germany appears to have further worsened, according to a recent survey by the Berlin-based Moses Mendelssohn Institute. Munich appears to be the most expensive city for students, whereas Chemnitz, the scene of recent neo-Nazi riots, has the cheapest accommodation for students.



Too much academic research is being published

Philip G Altbach and Hans de Wit

There is a simple answer to the crisis of over-publication of scientific papers. Research and publication should be encouraged only at institutions designated research-intensive and academics at non-research-intensive universities should be properly rewarded for their teaching and service, not research.


Digital transformation still in the early stages

Nadine Burquel and Anja Busch

Higher education institutions will need to adapt what they teach and how they teach in the new digital age. Many are trialling new initiatives, but budget tightening means they are still in the early stages of their digital journey.


Internationalisation ambition faces stiff challenges

Tatiana Belousova

India has announced several initiatives aimed at boosting its universities’ international rankings and image worldwide, with the aim of attracting more international students, but there are many different academic and social factors that will deter them from coming, from outdated curricula to violence against women.



Higher education’s key role in sustainable development

Patrick Blessinger, Enakshi Sengupta and Mandla Makhanya

Higher education institutions have a critical role to play in driving sustainable development forward. But creating a sustainable future is much more than just creating green campuses or implementing recycling efforts or global citizenship initiatives. It also means inclusive education and lifelong learning.



Can EU sanctions threat ease academic freedom crisis?

Brendan O’Malley

As Hungary faces a key vote in the European Parliament, the European University Association has condemned the Hungarian government’s mounting attempts to interfere with academic freedom and the autonomy of the higher education sector, putting it at risk of becoming an “instrument of government”.



Could Latin American universities do better in rankings?

María Elena Hurtado

The answer from higher education experts is, ask not why Latin American universities are held back in the rankings, but why rankings do not use methodologies that measure universities’ response to society’s demands and make their methodologies more meaningful to more universities in the world.


Do chief diversity officers drive faculty diversity?

Claire Hansen The Chronicle of Higher Education

When Baylor University, Texas, began considering the creation of a chief-diversity-officer position, many people said the role could help diversify the institution’s faculty. But what influence does an executive-level diversity position really have on faculty demographics? James E West and colleagues investigated.


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Open-access plan could end journal subscriptions

Research funders from France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and eight other European nations have unveiled a radical open-access initiative that could change the face of science publishing in two years – and which has instantly provoked protest from publishers, writes Holly Else for Nature.


Top agri-food universities collaborate to fight hunger

The top five agri-food universities in the world, the University of California, Davis, Cornell University, China Agricultural University, the University of Sao Paulo and Wageningen University and Research, have agreed to collaborate as they look to fight global hunger together, writes Carl Collen for Fruit Net.


AI brain drain as tech giants raid top universities

Britain faces an artificial intelligence ‘brain drain’ as Silicon Valley raids its top universities for talent, data compiled by The Telegraph shows. Around a third of leading machine learning and AI specialists who have left the United Kingdom’s top institutions are currently working at Silicon Valley tech firms, writes Hannah Boland for The Telegraph.


Universities must aid free speech or face funding cuts

Ontario colleges and universities must come up with free speech policies or face funding cuts, the Progressive Conservative provincial government said, delivering on a promise Premier Doug Ford made during the spring election, writes Shawn Jeffords for The Canadian Press.


University of Bath replaces UK’s ‘highest paid’ VC

The University of Bath’s new vice-chancellor is to earn over £200,000 (US$259,000) less than his controversial predecessor, it has emerged. Professor Ian White is replacing Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, who was the highest paid vice-chancellor in the United Kingdom, reports BBC News.


Universities set for new wave of hazing rituals

University hazing rituals – once indelibly associated with Oxbridge drinking societies and United States fraternity houses – are no longer exclusively an Anglo-Saxon phenomenon, with French universities increasingly having to crack down on the practice, writes Catherine Bennett for France 24.


University criticised for pulling transgender study

Brown University has been criticised over its decision to remove news about a controversial study on transgender youth from its website. The paper by Assistant Professor Lisa Littman suggests that gender dysphoria, or a conflict between one's gender identity and sex assigned at birth, occurring around the time of puberty – as opposed to early childhood – could be due to peer pressure or online influences, writes Brooke Sopelaa for NBC News.


Poignant empty chair tribute to imprisoned graduate

It’s more than two months since University of Aberdeen graduate Hanifi Baris was arrested and he is still languishing behind bars in a Turkish prison. But the academic, who completed a PhD dissertation last year before moving to Turkey to work as a lawyer, has not been forgotten by students at his alma mater, writes Kirsten Robertson for The Press and Journal.


University teachers in black bands and badges protest

Faculty members of central universities wore black bands and badges on the Teachers’ Day last Wednesday in protest against the government not acceding to their various demands which included a long-pending demand to revert to the old pension scheme, writes Prakash Kumar for the Deccan Herald.


Work starts on US$81 million Al Ain university campus

Abu Dhabi University has laid the foundation stone for its new campus in Al Ain as construction starts on expanding and enhancing facilities. The new campus with an overall area of 45,000 square metres will cost AED300 million (US$81 million), writes Sam Bridge for Arabian Business.


University probes alleged sexual misconduct by staff

University of Manitoba President David Barnard announced that a number of staff members are on leave due to allegations of sexual misconduct which are being investigated. The announcement came as Barnard stated a commitment to instituting mandatory training for all faculty and staff on sexual violence, consent and power relationships, writes Darren Bernhardt for CBC News.


First woman rector at University of the Aegean

At an amphitheatre of the University of the Aegean located in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos, Chrisi Vigilaki became the first woman to be accredited the highest official position in the Greek university; that of Prytanis (the equivalent of rector or chancellor), writes Nick Kampouris for the Greek Reporter.


President’s appointment must abide by constitution

The appointment of the president of the International Islamic University Malaysia must be recommended by the government in accordance with the university’s constitution, said its former president, Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim, reports Bernama.


Traditional dress code for Bihar convocations

The days of black gowns are gone; kurta, dhoti or pyjama and Malviya pagri (turban) will now be the dress code for the convocation ceremonies in Bihar universities. All the universities will have a fixed calendar for the convocation. These measures have been approved by newly-appointed Bihar Governor Lalji Tandon, the chancellor of all Bihar universities, writes Faizan Ahmad for The Pioneer.

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