ISSN 1756-297XAFRICA: 0003 27 April 2008
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Africa - SO2 - Newsletter
Issues affecting higher education in Africa are covered in University World News' Africa edition

Participation in tertiary education in sub-Saharan countries continues to lag far behind all other regions of the world, according to Unesco’s 'Education For All Global Monitoring Report 2008'. See the story in our news section.

Trans-Atlantic relations – British Prime Minister Gordon Brown wants closer ties between universities in the US and UK.

NEXT WEEK: Quality assessment – Exclusive reports by the world's leading authorities

AFRICA: News from across the continent

AFRICA: Academic shortage hampers research
John Walshe
The research capacity of African universities is being hindered by the emergence of serious bottlenecks, according to one of the continent’s distinguished education leaders. Professor Akilagpa Sawyerr, Secretary-General of the Association of African Universities and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, suggests that the most significant human element is absence of sufficient highly qualified academics. A “pandemic of enrolment explosion” had taken place in recent years without commensurate growth in faculty numbers.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Lag in Sub-Saharan participation
Karen MacGregor
Tertiary education enrolment ratios in Sub-Saharan countries continue to lag far behind all other regions of the world, with only one in 20 young Africans entering formal study after school, according to Unesco’s Education For All Global Monitoring Report 2008. But participation rates are rising and there was a dramatic hike in student numbers in Sub-Saharan Africa in the six years to 2005: from 2.1 to 3.5 million. Mauritius has the highest gross enrolment ratio in the region, 17%, followed by South Africa, while N igeria’s tertiary student numbers nearly doubled to 1.3 million during the six-year period.
Full report on the University World News site

N IGERIA: Poor electricity supply hits ICT growth
Tunde Fatunde
The poor electricity supply in N igeria is proving a major impediment to the operation and growth of information and communication technologies in the nation’s universities. Only a trickle of daily electricity production dribbles erratically into the country’s 93 institutions, rendering ICT systems dysfunctional. Universities resort to diesel-propelled generators, but they are expensive and environmentally unfriendly. So now there are attempts to find alternative energy sources such as solar energy to accelerate ICT provision.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA-IRELAND: First five-nation project boosts research
John Walshe
Irish President Mary McAleese has launched an unprecedented initiative that brings together all nine universities in the Republic and Northern Ireland with universities in four countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. The four involved in the Irish-African Partnership for Research Capacity Building are Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Government may re-create teacher colleges
Karen MacGregor
In a policy about-face, the South African government is considering re-creating teacher training colleges that it closed a decade ago. Teacher programmes at colleges were either shut down or incorporated into universities. A teacher college campaign is being driven by South African President-in-waiting Jacob Zuma, backed by political parties and teacher unions – but not necessarily by universities – in the face of drastic teacher shortages in schools as teachers immigrate, die of AIDS or leave the profession.
More on the University World News site


EGYPT: Academics struggle with no pay rise for 25 years
Ashraf Khaled
The monthly salary Tareq Al Desouki earns from his job as a medical professor at a university in Egypt's Nile Delta barely covers his family's needs for one week. He depends on his earnings from a private clinic to make both ends meet. “But what about the thousands of university professors who do not have a private clinic to earn enough to cope with the soaring costs of living?” complains Desouki, a leading member of the University Teaching Staff Club, a union pushing for substantial increases in the salaries of instructors in Egypt's government-run universities. Last month, lecturers staged a symbolic half-day nationwide strike, the first in Egypt's academic life, to demand better wages and working conditions.
Full report on the University World News site

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

GLOBAL: Push for higher education services at WTO
Keith Nuthall
The long-sidelined services portion of the World Trade Organisation’s Doha development round is to get a push, reawakening hopes among some countries that access to foreign higher education markets could improve in a global trade deal that may be coming this year. WTO Director General Pascal Lamy has launched “horizontal talks” at the trade body which will allow negotiators to discuss the liberalisation of global services markets such as food, industrial goods and other issues simultaneously.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Innovative universities extend reach
Geoff Maslen
The 27 senior academics travelled half-way round the world to hold their board meeting in Melbourne and on the way they stopped off in steamy Sarawak on the island of Borneo. The European Consortium of Innovative Universities had never been this far south before but it was unlikely to be the last time.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Call to strengthen UK-US links
Diane Spencer
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown wants to renew and extend transatlantic links between students, researchers, academics, universities and charities. On the eve of his recent visit to America, Brown said members of his Cabinet had benefited from time at US universities while Bill Clinton was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford, and the Marshall and Fulbright scholarships had provided exchanges between the countries for decades. “But I want many more British and American university students to have the chance to study across the Atlantic,” he said.
Full report on the University World News site

INDONESIA: University admissions scandal
David Jardine
Barely a day goes by in Indonesia without yet another corruption story filling the newspaper headlines. Usually these scandals involve businessmen, members of the judiciary or government officials. The higher education sector, however, is not untainted.
Full report on the University World News site

NEWSBRIEF: First Australian university YouTube channel
The University of New South Wales in Sydney became the first Australian university to officially launch a channel on YouTube last week. Among the first three universities in the world to link with YouTube, the UNSW channel has become one of the most watched local online sites, scoring more hits than television competitors such as Channel Ten, Beat TV and SkyNewsShowbiz.
Full report on the University World News site

NEWSBRIEF: UK League tables go interactive
The University of Oxford is the UK’s leading university, according to the latest league tables from The Good University Guide. The University of Cambridge, which topped the national league table last year, performs strongly in second place. For the first time, students can design their own tables online.
Full report on the University World News site


US: New report on race-based gaps in graduation rates
While access to higher education by students from minority groups in America has improved over the years, not enough is being done by many institutions to ensure success once they arrive on campus, says a new report by the independent think-tank Education Sector. This has resulted in graduation rates for black students that are significantly lower than for whites. At many institutions “the success of undergraduates, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, is not the priority it should be,” according to Graduation rate watch: Making minority student success a priority. But the story is very different at many colleges and universities that have put support systems in place, and who have been able to raise graduation rates for black students – in some cases to higher than those of white students. One example is Florida State University, where the Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement has helped to achieve a graduation rate that is slightly higher for black than for white students.
More on the University World News site


GERMANY: Star economist honoured in Munich
Michael Gardner
One of Germany’s most influential economists, Hans-Werner Sinn, Professor of Economics and Public Finance at the University of Munich, has been honoured for his outstanding academic performance with the Bavarian Order of Merit. Sinn was awarded the Order, the highest recognition awarded by the State of Bavaria for scientific and artistic merit, at a ceremony in Munich’s Residenz on 17 April.
Full report on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

CZECH REPUBLIC: Risqué late-night screenings for students
Nick Holdsworth
One of the world’s oldest festivals of film for children and teenagers is introducing late night screenings of more adult and controversial movies to satisfy growing numbers of university students in its audiences.
Full report on the University World News site


US: University patents versus developing countries
Officials charged with managing patent portfolios in US universities have found a new cause, reports the Huffington Post. In addition to opposing patent reform in Congress, they are opposing proposals being discussed in the World Health Organisation aimed at increasing research and development for neglected diseases and other global health needs, and expanding access to new medicines in developing countries.
More on the University World News site

US: Texas board rejects ‘creation science’ degree
A bid by the Dallas-based Institute for Creation Research to train future science teachers – focussing on creationism instead of Darwin’s theory of evolution – has been flatly rejected by Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board members, reports the Dallas Morning News. The decision to turn down the proposal, subject to final action by the full board, came despite arguments from institute officials and faculty that teaching of creationism to students would not hurt their future effectiveness as science teachers.
More on the University World News site

GHANA: Private universities – No quality, no accreditation
Vice-President Alhaji Aliu Mahama has warned that the government will not hesitate to withdraw the accreditation of private universities that operate below the required standards, reports the Daily Graphic. “The government will continue to collaborate with the private sector in providing quality education to the population but will not sacrifice standards and efficiency,” he warned at the fourth congregation of the Islamic University College, adding that there had been reports of some private institutions taking undue advantage of the government’s open policy on private sector participation in tertiary education.
More on the University World News site

RWANDA: Private sector urged to invest in universities
The Secretary-General of the Ministry of Education, Justin Nsengiyumva, has urged stakeholders in the private sector to play a leading role in investing in higher education because it is “a primary tool for development”, reports The New Times. Opening the final consultative meeting on a new national strategic policy for higher education, at the Kigali Institute of Technology, he added that the government should also assist existing institutions of higher learning to acquire what they lacked – instead of closing them.
More on the University World News site

KENYA: Credibility test for foreign universities
When the Australian Studies Institute (Ausi) set up office in Kenya seven years ago, the biggest headache was getting enough students to enrol for its programmes, writes Business Daily. The hope was that the institution would gain a foothold fast enough to take advantage of a rising demand for higher education. This was eventually achieved, as the institution has churned out hundreds of graduates annually with 350 students enrolled today. But now Ausi, like most registered foreign education institutions operating in Kenya, is fighting a more difficult storm: wishing away a credibility crisis that has hit the education sector.
More on the University World News site

N IGERIA: Universities commission slams illegal courses
The National Universities Commission, or NUC, and the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board have condemned the inclusion of unapproved courses in the academic programmes of N igerian universities. Both bodies said it was fraudulent for university authorities to allow ‘illegal’ programmes to be included in the brochure published annually by the board as a prelude to the Universities Matriculation Examination. NUC Executive Secretary, Professor Julius Okojie, disclosed that about 400 programmes offered by universities were ‘illegal’ and threatened to report erring institutions to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
More on the University World News site

CAMEROON: Distance training offers new opportunities
Dominique Kenfack, a Cameroonian graduate in agronomy who had been unemployed for three years, was able to retrain thanks to distance courses provided by the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF), reports the Tribune in Yaounde. After a year’s intensive study, he found a job with a non-governmental organisation that was setting up access to ICTs in remote areas. The Tribune says distance education offered by national and foreign establishments is attracting many Cameroonians, both in work and unemployed: since 2004 hundreds have signed on for AUF’s 30 courses, and the Ministry of Higher Education has made distance learning official in a number of universities.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: University to probe racism claims
The University of Johannesburg is to investigate allegations of racist incidents on campus, where black students say they are “living in a climate of fear”, reports The Star.

South African Students' Congress chairperson Xolani Mkhwemnte said there had been “racially motivated incidents” on the university’s Kingsway campus recently including, he alleged, the beating of black students by white students in a bar at a hall of residence, the harassment of black students walking home at night and the verbal and physical abuse of senior black Sasco members.
More on the University World News site

MALAYSIA: Graduates to form 33% of workforce by 2010
The Malaysian government plans to increase the number of tertiary-educated people in the workforce from 20% to 33% by 2010, reports The Star. Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the challenge was to ensure that there was no sacrifice in quality. “To merely achieve these numbers would not be too difficult. We have grown our tertiary capacity from only one university in 1961 to 20 public universities, 36 private universities and university colleges, 21 polytechnics, 37 community colleges and 485 private colleges,” he pointed out.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: Higher education helps human rights progress
The development of higher education has contributed greatly to China's human rights, an expert told the ongoing Beijing Forum on Human Rights, reports China View. Xue Jinwen, director of the Human Rights Research Centre at Nankai University in Tianjin, said the historic development of higher education was of positive and significant importance to the development of the country’s rights cause.
More on the University World News site

BRUNEI: Minister wants 50% post-secondary participation
Brunei is aiming to increase the enrolment of students in higher education from the current 13% to 30% over the next five years, said the country’s Minister of Education. The ministry is also hoping to achieve an “at least 50% participation rate in post-secondary education”, including students pursuing vocational and technical training”, reports the Brunei Times.
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AUSTRALIA: Top university 'begged' for Saudi funding
A prominent Australian university practically begged the Saudi Arabian embassy to bankroll its Islamic campus for AU$1.3 million (US$1.2 million), even telling the ambassador it could keep secret elements of the controversial deal, The Australian reveals. Documents obtained by the newspaper reveal that Griffith University, described by vice-chancellor Ian O'Connor as the “university of choice” for Saudis, offered the embassy an opportunity to reshape the Griffith Islamic Research Unit during its campaign to get some “extra noughts” added to Saudi cheques.
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UK: Flat-pack degrees
One of England's newest universities, Buckinghamshire New University, is now offering a retail management foundation degree in collaboration with the bed company Dreams. Of course, there in nothing wrong with learning how to sell furniture. But there is plenty that is wrong with re-branding a company training scheme and promoting it as a university course, writes Frank Furedi, a professor of sociology at the University of Kent, in a comment piece in The Guardian. He argues that government plans for universities to supply skills demanded by business and commerce are not about providing high quality vocational education but about accrediting employment training. “The likely outcome will be to blur the distinction between education and training, and to lose sight of the purpose of what a university does.”
More on the University World News site


CANADA: Dean, Faculty of International Education
Malaspina University-College, British Columbia
Full specifications on the University World News site
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