WENR, October 2016: Africa

South Africa: Widespread Protests Affect Operations at 17 Public Universities, Leave One Dead

In September, renewed #FeesMustFall protests injured several people, claimed one life, and affected institutions of higher education across the county. As the month closed, 17 of the country’s 26 public universities were no longer operating fully; the University of Limpopo in the north was closed indefinitely. Police have used stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse students. Protests escalated after Higher Education and Training Minister Minister Blade Nzimande announced that universities could raise fees for 2017 by up to eight percent. Final exams scheduled for October may be cancelled if violence continues, creating a major financial burden for lower income families who have to pay for an additional semester or year in order for students to obtain a degree.

University World News
September 30

Pan-Africa: Virtual Institute for Higher Education Seeks to Better Train Faculty

Africa’s Virtual Institute for Higher Education is ready to relaunch in January 2017. The Institute will offer free online learning modules to African university lecturers. The courses seek to help faculty stay up to date with curriculum development in higher education, teaching and learning methods in higher education, and more. An earlier version of the Institute opened in 2005. It attracted 6,000 students over a five-year period, but then almost collapsed. In 2013, a study of African higher education identified the quality of university lecturers as the number one problem across the continent.

University World News
September 23

Somalia: Glut of For-Profit Higher Education Operators Creates Quality Concerns

When ongoing conflict forced Somali National University out of operation for 25 years, a thriving private, largely for-profit higher education sector rushed in to fill the void. Between 2004 and 2014 at least 50 institutions offered some form of higher education to some 50,000 students; 34 of those institutions were new. In the past two years alone, the number of operators may have doubled. In 2016, reports indicated that more than 100 institutions were operating nationwide, with more than 60 in the capital city Mogadishu alone. The boom has created widespread questions about quality, and concerns that many operators are more interested in raking in tuition fees than educating students to any recognizable standard. Somalia’s Education Minister believes no more than 10 or so schools are qualified to operate.

University World News
September 23

Nigeria: Charges of Religious Extremism at Nigeria’s Top University

Signs of religious fundamentalism among some students at Obafemi Awolowo University have raised concerns about an on campus “emergence… of an extremist group of Muslim students …similar to the current Boko Haram insurgency.” At issue are suspected splinter groups of two mainstream Muslim student groups, which are suspected of espousing a radical form of Islam and of locking women in rooms within the mosques. IIE reports that in 2014/2015 some 9,494 students from Nigeria studied in the U.S., making Nigeria the top source of students from Africa.

All Africa
September 15

Zimbabwe: Crackdown on Bogus PHDs + Efforts to Upgrade Key Higher Ed Institutions

At a recent graduation speech in Mutare, Zimbabwe’s Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Jonathan Moyo threatened possible criminal prosecution of institutions and individuals who traffic in fake PhDs. Moyo has highlighted the issue of widespread degree fraud for months. As part of his efforts to reform Zimbabwe’s higher education sector, he has also promised a skills audit to look at the capacities that need to be developed to address employment needs in the coming decade. In September, Moyo also appointed committees to look into what it would take to transform polytechnics into degree-awarding institutions and teachers colleges into universities.

All Africa
September 12

Posted in Africa, Regional News Summaries