African Universities to Begin Charging Tuition
The Association of African Universities
met in February in Nairobi, Kenya, and voted to support a resolution that would introduce tuition in countries where higher education has traditionally been free.
Included in the resolution’s proposed strategies is the development of better Internet access, which is often severely limited on the campuses of African universities. The head of the association, Andrew Siwela, hopes Internet connectivity will help universities compensate for inadequate resources through access to online resources, virtual libraries and improved communications.
Some universities have already begun programs to increase their financial support, by offering training to businesses and public administrations, and privatizing peripheral aspects of university life, such as student housing and cafeterias. These new profiteering measures have met some resistance from students that are already struggling to cover their expenses.
Siwela maintains that most African governments can no longer afford to offer free education. Institutions are hard pressed to generate income to raise faculty salaries and retain their staff.
— Chronicle of Higher Education
Feb. 23, 2001
Officials of the Ministry of Education and Scientific Research have announced that the budget of the country’s university has increased 54.25 percent. The increase is equivalent to nearly US$17 million dollars. Sources indicate that the money will go to the improvement of the institution’s social services and transport services for students, the establishment of scholarships and grants, and the continuation of on-campus construction.
— Zambia Post
Feb. 2, 2001
In an effort to help more girls gain access to higher education, the Joint Admissions Board has decided to lower the cut-off scores for females from 68 to 67. This modification will allow for the admittance of 300 more girls to public universities this year. In addition to passing the general test, the students must meet the minimum requirements in adjunct exams specific to the cluster of programs they choose.
— The Nation (Nairobi)
Dec. 19, 2000
Ezra Maritim, vice-chancellor of Egerton University, announced that the university will reduce its student admissions this year. The move is supposed to facilitate the university’s transition to the two-semester academic program and streamlining of administration. Maritim also announced that the school would increase prices in the school cafeteria, which has drawn the ire of many students. University officials have begun to explore the possibility of starting horticultural and grain farming projects to subsidize food prices.
— The Nation (Nairobi)
Dec. 18, 2000
The embattled education sector of Lagos could undergo drastic structural changes pending the National Assembly’s decision on a recently submitted bill. The bill seeks to privatize the nation’s universities, which are presently funded by the government. The education minister, Professor Femi Aborisade, hopes that this reform will eliminate the recurring conflicts over salaries between government authorities and unionized professors.
In recent months, the strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has halted classes and prohibited examinations, leading to student riots at the University of Ilorin in late February. The proposed law, in addition to granting the universities’ autonomy, will also take measures to regulate the drastic behavior of associations like the ASUU and form a framework for negotiations that will deter the haphazard disruption of classes.
— This Day
Student protests at the University of Cheikh Anta Diop
in Dakar have led to the death of one student, a shake-up in the Ministry of Education and meetings between student representatives and President Abdoulaye Wade.
Students took to the streets Jan. 31 to protest a major increase in the study fee for the fall semester — from $7 to $49 — and rising prices for housing and food. Riot police responded with tear gas and physical force, which left 15 students injured and one dead from a bullet wound to the throat. President Wade had banned the use of teargas at universities and Senegalese officials maintain that the police were not armed. The government has launched an investigation to identify the transgressors.
President Wade responded immediately with a televised expression of regret for the incident, then promptly replaced the minister of tertiary education. The new minister, Libasse Diop, a former university dean, pledged his commitment to student dialogue to reach a solution.
Wade himself agreed to meet with students of the national university to hear their concerns. Many observers in the Senegalese media believe he must ameliorate the student situation to save his presidency in the face of the upcoming legislative election.
Feb. 5, 2001
The academic staff of Mangosuthu Technikon
in Johannesburg declared a strike in early February. The strike is meant to express their discontent with the reinstatement of the formerly suspended Vice-Chancellor Professor Aaron Ndlovu. In 1999, following student and employee complaints of favoritism, nepotism and illegal expenditures, the South African Ministry of Education launched an investigation of Ndlovu’s activities. After being suspended in January 2000, Ndlovu returned to his former position in December. The union of Mangusuthu Technikon employees, Nutesa, has sworn to continue the strike until the reinstatement is annulled or the Department of
— PanAfrican News Agency
Feb. 2, 2001
The University of the North in Pietersburg was forced to push back the deadline for registration as a result of student protests. Students invaded the campus and disrupted the registration in early February in response to the university’s mounting pressure to collect outstanding fees and tuition.
Administrator Patrick Fitzgerald said the University of the North would be bankrupt by the end of the year if it continued its lax collection policies and plummeted into severe debt. He cited failure to pay for residence as the main source of financial loss, because that service is not subsidized by the government.
Fitzgerald promptly assembled a task force to expedite the delayed registration and work toward improving the process. Classes were rescheduled to commence Feb. 12.
— African Eye News Service
Feb. 7, 2001
Charges of international terrorism, U.S. sanctions, a failing economy and President Bashir’s push to “Islamicize” the nation have all gravely threatened Ahfad University in Khartoum
, one of Africa’s oldest universities for women.
The institution began in 1907 as a secular primary school for 17 girls, and has since expanded into a full university with 4,500 students, offering five undergraduate programs and two postgraduate degrees. Repercussions of the 17-year-long civil war, which has polarized the country into an Arab, Muslim north and African, Christian south, are threatening this longevity, as well as the university’s traditionally liberal and open-minded teachings.
The U.S. indictment of Sudan as a provider of aid and refuge for terrorists has halted university development, leading to sanctions that have cut off foreign aid and debilitated the native middle class. Plans for a multi-million dollar laboratory have been halted, and enrollments have declined due to the struggling economy. Furthermore, the Sudanese government is pushing for:
• The replacement of English for Arabic
• The promotion of Islamic values in all schools
• Policies that prevent the university’s female students from learning English
• Constraining the school’s curriculum
University President Gasim Badri, the grandson of the school’s founder, has spoken out against these internal reforms, as well as the United States’ condemnation of the country.
“We are trying to educate women to be agents for change, and if you are not critical, you cannot be an agent for change,” Badri said.
— The Times Higher Education Supplement
March 23, 2001