WENR, March 2012: Africa

Harmonization of East African Higher Education Systems in Doubt

A disagreement between the East African Legislative Assembly and the Council of Ministers could derail the enactment of a bill that seeks to harmonize higher education systems in the region.

According to recent media reports, the council will advise heads of state to reject the amendment to the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) Bill, which was earlier passed by the Legislative Assembly. In contention is an amendment requiring that universities (local and foreign) seek permission from IUCEA if they want to establish campuses in any of the partner states.

Most Council members fear that this would result in too much loss of autonomy and give the ICUEA too much power. The consensus is that there should be a new body charged with regulation and accreditation. The bill seeks to allow university students to move freely across the region’s institutions via a credit transfer arrangement. The clause passed by EALA would empower the ICUEA with exclusive accreditation powers. Opponents say this would hijack the powers of existing national regulatory institutions.

The East African
February 18, 2012

Private Universities Take Over

Within five years, the number of private universities in Africa is likely to be greater than the number of public ones, according to Professor Olugbemiro Jegede, secretary general of the Association of African Universities.

Speaking in New York in February at the launch of the publication Weaving Success: Voices of change in African higher education, hosted by the Institute of International Education, Jegede described an African higher education story of low participation rates, yet massive demand. He said the myriad socio-economic challenges that had plagued Africa from the 1980s as well as economic structural adjustments had seen many governments cut public spending on higher education, paving the way for the proliferation of private institutions.

Jegede said that in 1960 there were seven private universities on the continent. The number had risen to 27 by 1990, and by 2006 the private higher education sector accounted for 22 percent of student enrollment, a figure close to that in Europe. In terms of numbers, the student population was said to have trebled to 9.3 million in 2006, while a projection of recent trends suggests that Africa could have up to 20 million students by 2015, according to a 2010 World Bank report. Currently Africa has around 800 universities and more than 1,500 tertiary institutions. At current rates of growth, the AAU estimates that the number of private universities will outnumber those in the public sector by 2017.

In Uganda there are currently seven public and 27 private universities, while all of the 40 universities in Somalia are privately owned. Ethiopia has 22 public universities and more than 30 private institutions, while South Africa has 23 public universities and 87 private institutions. Ghana has six public and 42 private universities, while in Nigeria there are 36 federal, 37 state and 45 private universities.

University World News
March 2, 2012


U.S. Universities Said to be Looking at Collaborative Opportunities

A reported 11 U.S. universities have or are planning on visiting Botswana this year to explore research and collaboration opportunities, Botswana’s Ambassador to the United States, Tebelelo Seretse, announced in February.

The first delegation arrived in the capital Gaborone in late February, while another delegation arrived on March 5. Seretse said the American universities were coming to explore possibilities for research and collaboration with local institutions through program franchising and other arrangements.

The Ambassador explained that most of the universities sending delegations had long-term relations with the government of Botswana, including: Ohio University, University of Cincinnati, New Mexico University, St. George University, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Morgan State University, San Francisco State University, Florida Coastal School of Law, Howard University, Western Illinois University, and Charlotte School of Law, Communications, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

The Monitor
February 27, 2012


Senior High School to Be Shortened by a Year

Ghana’s government’s has approved a measure to shorten the duration of senior high school from four years to three. The new system is likely to put huge pressure on university admissions this year, as double the usual number of school-leavers will be competing for limited places.

The situation results from a campaign promise three years ago by the ruling National Democratic Congress, or NDC, to take a year off the four-year senior high school system. The NDC followed up on its promise soon after assuming office in January 2009, even though the previous government had only a year earlier increased the duration of high school.

Ghana’s eight public universities already struggle to meet demand from school-leavers and are forced to exclude many eligible applicants. This October the problem will be compounded by a double cohort of graduating secondary students resulting from the shortening of higher secondary studies. Those students who can afford it will be able to apply to one of the country’s more than 40 private higher education institutions.

According to government officials, the creation of two more universities in the Volta and Brong Ahafo regions will help alleviate the admissions bottleneck.  Meanwhile, the Union of Ghana Students is demanding that government revert to the four-year system by May this year.

University World News
February 19, 2012

Posted in Africa, Regional News Summaries