Technical skills are urgently needed to meet continental targets.

University World News Africa Edition
4 November 2018 Issue 230 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


Technical skills shortages put key African Union Agenda 2063 targets at risk

   In our Special Report on the recent biennial conference of the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) held in Nairobi, Kenya, last month, Gilbert Nakweya reports that African Union targets over the first 10 years of the AU’s Agenda 2063 are being threatened by a lack of technical skills, while Maina Waruru reports on calls for women academics to be bolder in putting themselves forward for career-based opportunities, and Christabel Ligami reports on a three-point plan to boost PhD numbers arising out of the minister’s meeting which took place alongside the conference.

   In news from Zimbabwe, where same-sex marriage remains outlawed and intolerance towards homosexuality is pervasive, Tonderayi Mukeredzi reports on a new scholarship programme launched by Zimbabwe’s leading LGBTI rights organisation to support LGBTI students.

   In two features from Nigeria, Tunde Fatunde provides an update on the plight of law students at the National Open University of Nigeria who have been barred by the Council of Legal Education from pursuing mandatory training for practitioners at the Nigerian Law School, and Alex Abutu reflects on the claim by some of the country’s academics that Nigeria’s Tertiary Education Trust Fund is being used to enrich foreign universities.

   In Africa Analysis, Wondwosen Tamrat discusses the implications of Ethiopia’s long-awaited internationalisation policy, and Eric Fredua-Kwarteng and Samuel Kwaku Ofosu suggest issues that Ghana’s National Accreditation Board could focus on to increase its relevance as an external quality agent for higher education, rather than focusing on relatively trivial issues such as honorary titles.

   Finally, in our series on Transformative Leadership, Brendan O’Malley interviews Mastercard Foundation Scholar Ubah Ali, who is fighting to end the hazardous cultural practice of female genital mutilation in her homeland, Somaliland.

Sharon Dell – Editor



Gay association launches scholarships for LGBTI students

Tonderayi Mukeredzi

Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, the association of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, has announced a scholarship programme for gay students pursuing studies at state universities.


127 students benefit from SKA human development project

Kudzai Mashininga

Science ministers from nine African countries implementing the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope and African Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network projects have noted progress in the training of students for the initiative, although financial resources remain a concern.


Government backtracks, calls for new university council

Francis Kokutse

The government of Ghana has retreated from a recent decision to dissolve the governing council of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and replace it with an interim council in the wake of demonstrations by students which resulted in the institution’s closure. In a new statement, the Ministry of Information has requested that the chancellor reconstitute the council in accordance with the university's statutes and laws.


Anti-corruption drive – What about the universities?

Gilbert Nakweya

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta’s war on corruption has seen the arrest and prosecution of high-profile civil servants from current and past regimes, but have universities been overlooked in his campaign? Some academics and stakeholders think so.


PM intervenes on niqab issue, Islamists lose a battle

Azzeddine Bensouiah

The Algerian prime minister’s recent reiteration of a ban on the wearing of the niqab (face veil) by all public service employees in the workplace, including universities, can be seen as evidence of a push to enforce a rule that has existed since 2006 but not strictly applied because of pressure from Islamists.


UWN – Canvassing student and staff views on the niqab

Wagdy Sawahel

A United Nations human rights committee finding on 23 October that the French ban on the full-body veil violated women’s freedom of religion is likely to intensify debate on the issue of the niqab in society, and at universities around the world.



HE internationalisation – Towards a national policy

Wondwosen Tamrat

The Ethiopian government’s plan to develop its long overdue policy of internationalisation – set down in its Ethiopian Education Sector Development Programme V – will depend upon synergy being created at national, local and institutional levels.


Accreditation needs critical thinking and innovation

Eric Fredua-Kwarteng and Samuel Kwaku Ofosu

The accreditation process should be firmly focused on improving higher education and not on relatively trivial issues such as honorary titles. It is a feature of public institutions in Africa that they often continue operating with the same ineffective models. Innovation is needed.



Light at the end of the tunnel for shunned law students?

Tunde Fatunde

The National Open University of Nigeria is awaiting the outcome of its bid to amend the act in terms of which the university was created in the latest attempt to resolve a five-year-long imbroglio preventing the university’s law graduates from gaining access to the Nigerian Law School – a prerequisite for any law graduate seeking to practise law.


TETFund is failing local universities – Academics

Alex Abutu

The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), which disburses the education tax to public universities, claims to have left behind its corruption-plagued past when guidelines for scholarships for studying abroad were routinely flouted. But academics say it is still strengthening universities abroad instead of locally.


The Sixth Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) Biennial Conference, also known as the African Higher Education Week, took place in Nairobi, Kenya, from 22-26 October under the theme “Aligning African universities to accelerate attainment of Africa’s Agenda 2063”. The conference brought together stakeholders in higher education and agriculture from across the continent.


AU’s development goals hampered by skills shortages

Gilbert Nakweya

Key targets for the first 10 years of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 are being jeopardised by a lack of critical technical skills, and a new skills development agenda led by business and academia is urgently needed, the recent Sixth African Higher Education Week and Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture Biennial Conference heard.


Women scholars urged to seize global opportunities

Maina Waruru

African women scholars have been urged to be less cautious and take advantage of international opportunities open to them in respect of scholarships, fellowships, grants, leadership positions and career advancement.


Calls for greater role for universities in policy-making

Gilbert Nakweya

Are African universities being taken seriously enough as knowledge-producing institutions capable of developing research-based policies aimed at addressing the continent’s development challenges?


Ministers propose three-point plan to boost PhD numbers

Christabel Ligami

Recognising the need for more doctoral graduates who can contribute to the science and innovation agendas needed to promote development, African ministers of education, agriculture, science and technology have proposed a three-point plan to escalate postgraduate training and staffing in African universities.


TVET colleges fail to prepare youth for agricultural jobs

Christabel Ligami

In spite of some progress, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions in Africa are still too theoretical and are not providing the real skills needed by the agricultural sector, according to experts at the Sixth African Higher Education Week and Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture Biennial Conference, held in Nairobi from 22-26 October.


South Korea announces US$9 million scholarship grant

Christabel Ligami

The South Korean government has announced a US$9 million grant for scholarships to support PhD students, research and innovation in various universities in Africa under the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund programme.


Partnerships – The key to harnessing HE innovation

Christabel Ligami

Against the backdrop of “formidable” challenges facing African universities in their roles as drivers of development and core-creators of knowledge-based economies, regional and global partnerships can help in fully harnessing higher education innovation in Africa, a recent regional higher education conference heard.



A victim of FGM now fighting to end the practice

Brendan O’Malley

Ubah Ali was six when she was circumcised in a country where 98% of girls are victims of the female genital mutilation (FGM) procedure that brings considerable pain and health risks. Empowered by higher education and transformative leadership thinking, she is working for change in her homeland, Somaliland.



French HE schools aim to stop student brain drain

Several prestigious French grandes écoles have set up branches in Morocco to help stem the brain drain of young Moroccans who leave to study in Europe.

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


Scholars hide military links from Western universities

Yojana Sharma

China’s military has been expanding research collaboration with foreign universities, with 2,500 military scientists and engineers sponsored to study abroad in the past decade, a new report reveals. But many scholars hide their military links from Western universities, which raises potential security concerns.


Minister should explain why research grants are refused

Geoff Maslen

Revelations that a former federal education minister had rejected a decision by the Australian Research Council to allocate grants for 11 humanities projects have forced his successor to retreat – slightly. He said the reasons for rejection should be explained.


Investigator backs tuition fees for foreign students

Jan Petter Myklebust

The government investigator into internationalisation of Swedish higher education, in her full report, proposes measures to ease international recruitment by reducing red tape but backs keeping full tuition fees for international students while increasing scholarship funding to attract top talent.


US and UK gain as China, Japan, France slip in ranking

The United States and United Kingdom remain at the top of the US News and World Report’s 2019 Best Global Universities ranking, announced on 30 October, but China, Japan and particularly France lost ground. But in the subject rankings China performed well.


Rising drop-out rate leads to call to scrap reforms

Jan Petter Myklebust

The drop-out rate at Danish universities increased by 20% between 2014 and 2017, partly due to the ‘progress reform’, which aims to cut delays in time taken to achieving a degree, and due to the time limit set on students’ options to take more than one degree.


Mixed response to minister’s call for more study abroad

Jan Petter Myklebust

Norway's Minister of Research and Higher Education Iselin Nybø is calling for a cultural change on student mobility to significantly increase the numbers studying abroad and has asked for stakeholder proposals and ideas. But some observers say institutions and students have good reasons to limit student exchanges.


Guidelines to boosting indigenous research unveiled

Geoff Maslen

Although completion rates remain low, Aboriginal Australians are enrolling in universities and graduating in greater numbers than ever before. New guidelines launched on Friday are aimed at assisting indigenous graduates who want to pursue research degrees and research careers.


UC Berkeley announces major focus on data science

The University of California, Berkeley is to form a new Division of Data Science and Information to prepare thousands of students and researchers to “bring data science to bear in the classroom, laboratory and workplace”, in response to the “profound and growing impact of data” in the digital world.


Academics and students wary of political crisis outcome

Dinesh De Alwis

Following a surprise decision by Sri Lanka’s president to suspend parliament and sack the prime minister in favour of former rival Mahinda Rajapaksa, university teachers are worried about erosion of constitutional rule and students have reasons to fear a period of increased suppression.



Learning in the flow of life with help from AI

Diana Oblinger

Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics offer an opportunity to create new ways of learning. We can rethink, redesign and reset our expectations for learning throughout our lives, whether that means a change in the curriculum or a move to targeted micro-learning.


Turkey needs to do more to help Syrian academics

Hakan Ergin

The Turkish authorities have made an effort to hire Syrian academics at Turkish universities. But the number taken remains a tiny share of the thousands of Syrian academics applying for work. A long-term strategy on how to harness Syrian brain power is needed.



The staff who are overlooked in internationalisation

Fiona Hunter, Elspeth Jones and Hans de Wit

Academics and administrators are often sidelined in the internationalisation process, as core functions are dealt with by leadership and international officers, but when they are included and given the skills they need, the result is less resistance and a more active contribution.



Bolsonaro poses a serious threat to higher education

Marion Lloyd

The election of Brazil’s new far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has already seen the beginning of a witch-hunt against academics. Further attacks on higher education, including budget cuts, curriculum changes and the abolition of affirmative action policies, are likely to be next.


Beijing signals tighter control over dissenting scholars

Yojana Sharma

A change of president at China’s top university in Beijing is being seen by academics as signalling a tightening of control over dissenting thought among scholars and stronger oversight by the Communist Party of top universities in their role as influencers of young people.



Educators emerge as parliamentary candidates in election

Shadi Khan Saif

In the midst of the usual seasoned politicians, powerful warlords and commanding religious figures, a new group of educators, many from the emerging private education sector, stood as candidates in the parliamentary elections, appealing to the youth vote, and are now awaiting the results.


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Cornell cuts ties with Chinese school after crackdown

Faculty members at Cornell University in New York said that they were cutting ties with Renmin University in Beijing, a leading Chinese tertiary institution, after reports that it was harassing and intimidating students campaigning for workers’ rights, writes Javier C Hernández for The New York Times.


Brazil high court against police action in universities

Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled last week that military police should not intervene on public university campuses, after they launched campus operations against students who oppose far-right president elect Jair Bolsonaro, reports Agence France Press.


Universities say defence plans would stifle freedoms

Labor, Australia’s leading universities and the tertiary education union have warned that a proposal to dramatically expand defence’s control over university research would stifle academic freedom and damage the sector’s competitiveness, writes Christopher Knaus for The Guardian Australia.


African women access university using smartphones

The world’s battle to provide education for all continues and now technology companies are joining the fray, helping thousands of young women in underdeveloped countries achieve what had, until recently, been deemed almost impossible: the chance to attend university, writes Bianca Barratt for Forbes.


UK universities struggle to deal with trans rights row

Professor Rosa Freedman of the University of Reading says she has been treated like a “pariah” by some academics, students and trans activists as a result of being one of a number of feminist academics expressing concerns about proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act that would make it easier for trans people to have their preferred gender legally recognised, writes Anna Fazackerley for The Guardian.


French students accused of ranking levels of Jewishness

University students in France listed and ranked Jewish classmates according to their level of affiliation as part of a string of jokes online and on campus featuring anti-Semitic hate speech, an alleged victim of this behaviour said, reports the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.


At least three UK universities on ‘verge of bankruptcy’

Three English universities are on the verge of bankruptcy, research has found. Other educational institutions are also struggling, surviving only by resorting to short-term loans, it has been claimed, writes David Harding for Yahoo! News.


More than half of university teaching staff on contract

More than half the people teaching at Nova Scotia universities are working under contract rather than in a position that might lead to a permanent, secure academic post, according to a recent study, writes Jean Laroche for CBC News.


Universities attracting foreign students for survival

The decreasing population due to the lowest-ever birthrate in South Korea has already caused multiple social problems and the low number of students at universities is a prominent issue. It has naturally led many universities to turn their eye towards a new business – attracting students from outside the country, writes Kim Jae-heun for The Korea Times.


Rajasthan University left with only 15 professors

Research at Rajasthan University has taken a back seat as the university now has only 15 professors, which is directly affecting the admission of students for PhDs. As a result, students have no option but to turn to private universities and spend large sums of money to pursue a PhD, reports The Times of India.


North Korean, Russian universities agree exchanges

One of North Korea’s most prominent universities, the Kim Chaek University of Technology, signed a memorandum of cooperation last Thursday in areas including science and engineering with the Russian Far Eastern Federal University, based in Vladivostok, writes Colin Zwirko for NK News.


Professors criticise government over campus drug dealing

Professors at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki have co-authored a document to protest against rampant drug dealing inside the premises of the institution. It calls on authorities to take immediate measures to remove drug traffickers operating freely on the campus, reports

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