WENR, April 2014: Africa
An Overview of Excellence Initiatives Across the Continent
In January former president of the Association of African Universities (AAU), Goolam Mohamedbhai, wrote an article for University World News detailing continental higher education reform efforts in Africa. As part of that article, the author touched on the “now well-established” African practice of “creating a center of excellence in an identified area in a country, which acts as a hub that networks with other institutions in that field in different countries,” as a means of “promoting regional collaboration and sharing limited resources in running postgraduate programs and undertaking research.”
These programs include four major initiatives:
1. In 2009, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) launched five centers of excellence across Africa in different research areas.
2. Around the same time the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) created two regional networks of centers of excellence in water sciences – one in Southern Africa and the other in West Africa.
3. More recently, the African Union Commission (AUC) launched a similar initiative known as the Pan-African University (PAU), comprising five institutes in five thematic areas in five African regions. The first three institutes became operational in 2013, and are based in Kenya (basic sciences, technology and innovation), Cameroon (governance, humanities and social sciences) and Nigeria (earth and life sciences), all of them located in existing universities. The institute in Algeria (water and energy sciences) is being established and the location of the one in Southern Africa (space sciences) has yet to be identified. The PAU is receiving support from the European Union and a number of countries. In 2013 the African Development Bank provided US$45 million to the PAU
4. In 2013, the World Bank launched its Africa Centers of Excellence (ACE) project, which aims to create 15 centers of excellence in West and Central Africa. The project is being run in collaboration with the AAU. The 15 centers in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo – seven of them located in Nigeria – were selected in late 2013 after competitive bidding and external evaluation, and are in areas of agriculture, health, and science and technology. The centers are located within existing universities and each receive funding of between US$4 million and US$8 million, with work expected to start in 2014.
Almost all the centers of excellence are heavily financed by development partners or donor agencies. It is therefore vital, Mohamedbhai argues, to consider the long-term financial sustainability of such centers when donor support is not available.
University World News
January 10, 2014
Kenya: State Funded Students Enter Private Universities in a Bid to Ease Admissions Backlog
Kenyan school leavers with the necessary grades to enter public universities will now be able to enroll in private universities under government funding, potentially easing the admissions pressure on state universities, with the first cohort expected to join private institutions this year.
Some of the 124,000 secondary school students who achieved the minimum mark for admission to universities, C+, in national examination results released in March, will now have the option to choose one of Kenya’s 26 private universities for degree programs. The plan, which the government has been mulling since 2010, opens a new chapter for higher education. Previously, government-funded students could only be admitted to public universities.
The deal will see private universities admitting at least 25,000 extra students in the next two years, easing an admission backlog of 40,000 students that the government has been seeking to end for the past three years.
The new policy gained traction with the formation of a new body – the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service – which includes representatives from private universities and colleges and will be the central admissions body for both public and private universities. It replaces the Joint Admissions Board, which has faced growing criticism for placing all top students in public universities and leaving the rest for private institutions and tertiary colleges.
University World News
March 9, 2014
Libya: New Administrative Infrastructure Introduced to Promote US-Libya Academic Exchange
The first meeting of the US-Libya Higher Education Task Force was held in Washington DC in March, and it was announced that the number of Libyan-funded graduate students in the United States studying in areas of critical need will be increased along with collaboration between higher education institutions in the two countries.
The task force will focus on deepening bilateral cooperation in education by increasing exchanges, improving the administration of scholarships, forging partnerships between American and Libyan universities and expanding the availability of English language and academic resources for Libyans wishing to study in the United States.
Among other initiatives, a consular section in Libya will be opened soon so that students and faculty won’t need to go outside of Libya to apply for a U.S. study visa.
In 2012, there were 1,300 Libyans studying in the United States, up 800 percent since 2007; this year over 2,000 students are in the United States. A new US$2.58 billion Libyan scholarship program will support a total of 41,000 students studying abroad, representing considerable expansion – in funding and participation – of the 12,500 Libyan scholarship students currently engaged in studies abroad.
At present, the Libyan-North American Scholarship Program involves around 2,500 Libyan students studying in Canada and the United States.
University World News
March 21, 2014
South Africa: Government to Establish 12 New Colleges to Meet Demand for Tertiary Places
Twelve new further education and training colleges will be built across South Africa in an effort to help meet increasing demand for university and college places.
In announcing the new institutions in March, President Jacob Zuma said, “student enrollments at universities have increased by 12 percent, while further education and training college enrollments have increased by 90 percent,” adding that, “the National Development Plan (NDP) envisages an increase in higher education enrollments from 17 percent in 2012 to 25 percent by 2030.”
The NDP is an economic policy framework aimed at eliminating poverty and inequality by 2030. Zuma said the 12 new campuses would mostly be in rural areas, and another two colleges would be refurbished.
March 14, 2014
Tunisia: New Academic Mobility Partnership with Europe
Tunisia and the European Union formally announced the establishment of a mobility partnership in March that, among other things, will help facilitate mutual recognition of qualifications, enhance the exchange of higher education information and experience, and foster the flow of researchers and students. There are 10 European countries involved in the partnership.
The Tunisia-EU mobility partnership is the second of its kind with an African country bordering the Mediterranean, following the signing of the first partnership with Morocco in June 2013.
One objective of the partnership is to improve the information available to qualified Tunisian citizens on employment, education and training opportunities available in the 10 EU member states involved in the partnership – Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
According to the Tunisian national statistics institute, the country’s young population is still struggling with high unemployment, which has been hovering above 30 percent for the last decade. Among some tertiary-educated groups, especially in the interior, unemployment is as high as 60 percent, according to a recent report, Tunisia: Too smart to fail.
In 2010, nearly 20,000 Tunisian students studied abroad while just 2,404 international students were in Tunisia studying. Nearly 80 percent of Tunisians abroad were in France, Germany and Italy.
University World News
March 14, 2014