40,000 students left in lurch as state funding ends

Private higher education institutions in Senegal have withdrawn from a scheme under which the government undertook to finance students but has failed to keep up payments, leading to the expulsion of about 40,000 students who are wondering where they will be able to continue their studies.

CUDOPES, the organisation representing the private institutions, claims the government owes its members XOF18 billion (US$30.2 million) in fees for students sponsored by the state, reported Sud Quotidien of Dakar. But the higher education, research and innovation minister, Cheikh Oumar Anne, said the state had already paid XOF8 billion of the XOF12 billion he claimed it had owed them.

Anne said the institutions were failing to keep to their side of the agreement, claiming “the students are not satisfied. There is a high rate of [state] students who no longer attend the courses; we must check that. The government is not satisfied with the private establishments.”

CUDOPES replied that their contribution to the policy of educating state-sponsored students had “largely exceeded the XOF41 billion” the minister had claimed the state had spent on the programme since it began in 2013.

It pointed out the education provided for the state students was accredited by the state under the authority of the higher education ministry, or by CAMES, the international Conseil Africain et Malgache pour l’Enseignement Supérieur.

In spite of the CUDOPES decision, following which the private institutions have expelled 40,000 state students from the scheme, the ministry has given the 56,000 school-leavers who this summer passed their baccalauréat examination until midnight on 10 September to apply for state-sponsored places – which presumably now no longer exist.

Meanwhile, the two higher education unions, SAES and SUDES, hold differing views on what should happen next, reported Sud Quotidien.

SAES believes the state funding should be invested in the public universities to widen intakes and improve social and educational conditions. Any state finance allocated to private institutions should be concentrated on recruiting unemployed PhDs to ensure at least 70% of teaching staff were post-docs.

SUDES proposes making students’ educational choices the object of a public bidding process, respecting the rules governing state funding. – Compiled by Jane Marshall

This article is drawn from local media.
University World News cannot vouch for the accuracy of the original reports.