SOUTH AFRICA: At least six more universities needed

Mergers between black and white universities in South Africa to transform higher education after apartheid have been "difficult and messy" and distracted attention from expanding student numbers, the country's vice-chancellors believe, reports Education Guardian. South Africa will need at least six more universities to raise participation in higher education from the current 15% and the sector was asking whether the mergers ordered by the government (known in some quarters as the "murders") had been necessary, said Roy du Pré, vice-chancellor of Durban University of Technology and spokesman for Higher Education South Africa which represents the heads of the country's universities.

"The mergers have been very difficult in South Africa and taken our eye off the international ball. While the rest of the world has been excited about growth we have spent a lot of time dealing with mergers," he told the conference of Association of Commonwealth Universities PRs in Durban. The mergers reduced the number of universities from 32 to 23.

Ironically, Professor du Pré's own institution was the result of the only voluntary merger, between adjacent technical universities for black and Indian students in 2002, which has worked. The other mergers were pushed through by the government in 2004 and many had still not bedded down and might even be reversed, he said.

Full report on the Education Guardian site