WENR, April 2013: Africa

Kenya

Higher Education Promised 30% Increase in Funding for 15 New Universities

The Kenyan government has budgeted an increase in funding for higher education of 30 percent for the financial year beginning in July, as it readies to establish 15 new public universities. But institutions say it’s not enough, while election promises made by Kenya’s new president, Uhuru Kenyatta, could disrupt the sector’s plans.

Critics of the new funding plan point to the average annual rise in enrollments of 40 percent over the past six years, as proof that universities will continue to find it hard to meet student demand for facilities and teaching.

The new funding will be used to improve conditions at 15 former constituent colleges of universities that have been upgraded to fully-fledged universities this year, allowing them to admit more students and offer their own degree programs. The government hopes that the new universities will admit an additional 10,000 students and help ease the country’s admissions crisis.

However, it is not clear where the government will find funds for some of the promises made by presidential candidates ahead of the March 4 general election. Uhuru Kenyatta, who was elected president, heralded far-reaching changes to higher education during his campaign, including a promise to make it free. Now higher education leaders are wondering what Kenyatta’s plans will mean for the sector – whether current strategies will be thrown out or the new president will raise spending on tertiary education further.

University World News
March 16, 2013

Nigeria

Universities Commission Completes Full University Audit

For the first time in decades, Nigeria’s National Universities Commission has completed a full quality audit of the nation’s federal and state universities, finding widespread problems including poor staffing, underfunding and weak infrastructure.

On the basis of the committee’s assessment, which was completed late last year, stakeholders are putting pressure on the government to initiate reform efforts to help realign public universities with the needs of the nation.

The Committee on Needs Assessment of Public Universities in Nigeria produced a series of statistics and a description of the full university landscape comprised of 27 federal and 34 state universities. It did not visit 10 recently created federal and three new state universities. In total, there are 53 conventional universities (26 federal and 27 state), 13 universities of science and technology (five federal and eight state), two universities for the armed forces and police, and one federal petroleum university. The panel also found that there are some 1.2 million students in all public universities: 85 percent of them undergraduates, 5 percent sub-degree, 3 percent doing postgraduate diplomas, 5 percent masters, and 2 percent PhDs.

Shortcomings that the committee frequently pointed to include poor faculty research and teaching facilities, a chronic staff shortage, overcrowding in lecture halls, and shared laboratories and workshops across many program faculties.

“Classes are held in improvised open-air sports pavilions, and old cafeterias and even uncompleted buildings are used for lectures. In some cases, workshops are conducted under corrugated sheds or trees,” said the committee in its assessment. The heavy pressure on facilities was “mainly due to unplanned expansion of programs.”

“Internet is non-existent, epileptic or slow,” the committee report said. Furthermore, “library resources are outdated and manual. No university is fully automated. Less than 35 percent are partially automated.”

University World News
March 15, 2013

South Sudan

Egyptian University to Establish Campus

Egypt’s Alexandria University is to set up a branch campus in South Sudan in the town of Tonj. The project is being supported by a grant of US$1.25 million from the Egyptian Ministry of Higher Education, and will open opportunities for higher education collaboration between the two countries, including scholarships for South Sudanese to study in Egypt.

This was announced by the Egyptian government following Prime Minister Hisham Qandil’s visit to South Sudan in March. The campus will have departments of veterinary science, agriculture, education, nursing and research, with the focus being on areas of immediate development need in a country with a severe shortage of graduates. South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July 2011 following a peace deal that ended Africa’s longest-running civil war.

There are currently more than 390 South Sudanese students studying in Egyptian universities under scholarships provided to them by the Egyptian government.

University World News
March 30, 2013

Zambia

New Law Would Lead to university Construction Boom

The Zambian government has drafted a new higher education law, aimed at revamping and expanding the sector and improving standards, in a country where access to university education remains limited.

Presented to parliament in February, the bill calls for the formation of a quality assurance authority with powers to close down substandard institutions, whether public or private. It also seeks to establish at least one public higher education institution in each province, which would mean the creation of seven new institutions.

A Teaching Profession Bill has also been presented to parliament that among other things provides for the accreditation and regulation of colleges of education, and the regulation of teachers.

In an editorial commenting on the proposed higher education law Chola Mukanga, an economist and founder of the Zambian Economist, said that higher education in the country was a mess, especially in the private sector

University World News
March 2, 2013

Posted in Africa, Regional News Summaries