WENR, January/February: Africa

African Quality Rating System to Launch in 2011

The African Union aims to launch an initiative in 2011 that seeks to assess the comparative quality of institutions of higher education across the continent. The African Quality Rating Mechanism (AQRM) is being developed as an alternative to existing global rankings that largely ignore Africa and do not take continental specificities into account.

According to Dr Goolam Mohamedbhai, former Vice-chancellor of the University of Mauritius [1] and former Secretary General of the Association of African Universities [2], the initiative “will be a university rating rather than ranking system, using far wider criteria than purely research and publication.” Mohamedbhai added that the “AQRM will be voluntary, with institutions filling in their own information and the exercise coordinated by the African Union Commission.”

Last year, 34 institutions from all of Africa’s regions participated in a pilot data collection exercise, which will inform improvements and refinements to be made to the rating system this year. The World Bank, in collaboration with Unesco, has established a framework for supporting the African Union’s quality initiative.

In addition, An African Quality Assurance Network, AfriQAN, [3] was set up last year as a network of national bodies and institutions that will assist the development of higher education quality assurance policies and practices in Africa. The network is hosted by the African Association of Universities at its secretariat and supported by the Global Initiative for Quality Assurance Capacity.

University World News [4]
January 9, 2011

New West African Body to Promote University Leadership and Ideals

The University of Ilorin [5] in Nigeria has established the Association of West African Universities as a sub-regional body that will coordinate and promote the ideals of university education in West Africa. According to a communiqué signed by Dr Mahfouz A Adedimeji, deputy director of the Directorate of Information and Protocol in the vice-chancellor’s office, the association was established in January to strengthen and develop the capacity of leadership in universities in West Africa and address the challenges confronting the region.

The body, in collaboration with the African Union and other related bodies, will create a platform for dialogue, and bilateral and multilateral linkages among the leadership of the West African university education system through regular meetings.

Daily Trust [6]
January 20, 2011


Government Shutters Over 100 Colleges

The Kenyan government shut down more than 100 unaccredited colleges in late January, delivering on its promise to clean up the higher education sector. Prior to the operation, which involved teams of inspectors from the Ministry of Higher Education [7], a list of the 110 colleges set to close had been published in various media outlets.

The closures have left students scrambling, with many looking for transfers and thousands left out of school. The closures follow a string of warnings issued by education officials over the past five years. During this period unregistered colleges have mushroomed in the country’s main cities to cash in on the growing demand for higher education.

Rising transition rates from primary and secondary schools, and limited university places available annually for qualified prospective students, have fuelled the demand for college attendance. Under current regulations, all tertiary colleges are required to register with the ministry and have their premises inspected to ensure that they meet minimum requirements for the qualifications being offered. A list of recognized colleges was released in December after the government finished its final vetting process.

In related news, diploma mill operators may soon face up to three years in jail or a fine of Sh1 million (US$12,323) as the government initiates measures to weed out institutions offering fake or substandard certificates. Higher Education assistant minister Dr Kilemi Mwiria said proposals to this effect have been worked into a bill due for debate in parliament, in what the government hopes will end exploitation of unsuspecting students and parents.

University World News [8]
January 30, 2011
Daily Nation [9]
January 29, 2011


4 of 9 New University Leaders to be Hired from Abroad

Nine new universities are slated to open in 2011, and local media are reporting that four of those universities are expected to select their vice-chancellors from the Nigerian diaspora. During a recent one-day visit to Benin, the country’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, said his administration would set up international centers of excellence, adding that the high standards will attract Nigerian academics abroad to return and head up the new universities.

“Let us get the standards from the United States, from the United Kingdom, from the East and from the rest of Africa, and we will pick at least four vice-chancellors and four registrars from Nigerians in the diaspora that are into university administration,” Jonathan said. “We are not going to build village universities. None of the pioneer vice-chancellors will come from the geo-political zones. We are going to build nine international centers for learning.”

Next [10]
January 3, 2011

South Africa

South African Academics Among Best off in Commonwealth

As measured by purchasing power parity, academics in South Africa, on average, are now higher paid than their counterparts in Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand, according to a survey of 46 Commonwealth universities. However South African academics earn 6 percent less than those in Australia – the top-ranked country when cost of living is taken into account.

At the same time, South Africa has the highest salary scales relative to national gross domestic product per capita and the overall average academic salary is seven times the GDP per capita. This is perhaps not surprising for a developing country where joblessness is high and average per capita income is low, and where there are deep inequalities between rich and poor.

The survey [11], taken over the past 12 months found that differences in average salaries between countries had reduced since the last survey three years ago. This suggests increased international competition for academic staff as well as efforts within individual countries to improve academic salary levels.

Association of Commonwealth Universities [11]
December 16, 2010

Huge Tertiary Enrollment Growth

South African authorities have been pushing in recent years to increase participation and access in tertiary education, and the government announced in January that opportunities for South Africans who passed school-leaving examinations in December would grow by 56 percent this year. Accessibility will be aided by a new program promised by President Jacob Zuma that will grant students on state loans a free final year if they graduate.

In early January, the Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande said opportunities in universities, colleges, skills programs and ‘learnerships’ (workplace training) have increased 56 percent (over 184,547) from 104,000 to 288,487 in one year. This growth is anticipated to push the number of students in tertiary education to more than a million within a few years.

But even if all places are filled — which has not happened in the past — the target still falls short, leaving 76,000 of the 364,000 young people (around 20 percent) who passed the school-leaving examinations without a post-secondary place. Hundreds of thousands more who did not pass, also face limited options in a country with 33 percent unemployment.

University World news [12]
January 16, 2011


Local institutions to Work with Dutch University to Offer Doctoral Degrees

In a move designed to help meet demand for Tanzanian doctoral training, three institutions of higher education signed a collaboration agreement in February that will pave the way for new Ph.D. programs. Under the agreement, the Institute of Finance Management [13] (IFM) and Open University of Tanzania [14] (OUT) will work with The Netherlands’ Groningen University [15] to offer doctoral training.

According to the project coordinator, Dr Jim Yonazi, the doctoral programs will be offered through the Open University, which has been accredited by the National Council for Technical Education [16] to offer Ph.D. programs. The IFM is still processing its accreditation.

“Since this college is not entitled to offer Ph.D. courses we decided that they will be conducted at OUT, but we will supervise them jointly,” Yonazi said.

The Citizen [17]
February 2, 2011


Universities Closed in January Following Unrest

The Tunisian government shut all universities and high schools in the country in mid-January in response to unrest over a weekend that left at least 14 protesters dead after the police fired into crowds in several cities. Students, unions and professional groups had been marching since mid-December to protest the government and plaguing issues of high unemployment and lack of opportunities for university graduates. As the country’s president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was swept from power, unrest led to the indefinite closure of all educational establishments in a bid to prevent more clashes with the police and further deaths.

Young university graduates are among those hit hardest by Tunisia’s high unemployment rate, which, according to World Bank estimates [18] is at nearly 15 percent. Recent university graduates are more severely affected, with nearly half of educated youths still jobless a year after graduating, especially outside the capital Tunis. Before being ousted, the government tried to placate students by announcing a US$10 million jobs program to try to address the problem.

In late January, when classes were set to restart, teachers across Tunisia went on strike to protest the interim government of Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi that still contains officials from the Ben Ali regime. Mr. Ghannouchi has pledged elections for a new government in six months, but many Tunisians do not appear to be willing to wait that long. The teachers’ union has called for an indefinite strike to protest the inclusion in the transitional government of ministers from Ben Ali’s regime.

BBC [19]
January 10, 2011
Education International [20]
January 24, 2011


International University to Go Ahead

The Ugandan government has approved the establishment of an international university that will partner with institutions from around the world to deliver programs to students from Uganda and other East African countries (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda) as well as Southern Sudan and Nigeria.

Uganda’s National Council for Higher Education licensed the International University of East Africa (IUEA [21]) in January to offer higher education programs and courses from a campus that will be located in the capital Kampala. Reportedly, fees will range between US$1,000 and $3,000. So far US$20 million has been invested in the project, which New Vision said had attracted some 3,000 students.

The IUEA will focus on providing international quality higher education and training programs aimed at developing a skilled labor force as well as carrying out research relevant to the needs and opportunities of Uganda and the region. Programs are set to begin in April.

New Vision [22]
January 17, 2011