WENR, October 2014: Africa
Brain Drain or Brain Circulation?
In 2010/11, there were 2.9 million tertiary-educated migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa living in OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries. Some 450,000 had arrived there in the previous five years. For years, debate has centered on how the continent can stem this ‘brain drain’. More recently, though, there has been a re-evaluation: maybe this exodus is not necessarily detrimental to Africa’s development and might instead lead to capacity building in the continent.
In a world of ever-increasing connectivity, mobility and international collaboration, migration is not one way — knowledge and skills circulate. So, the online SciDev magazine asks, how can Africa maximize this ‘brain circulation’ for development, and engage with the academics of the African diaspora? It is estimated that around half of Africans who study overseas do not return, which in turn has led to faculty shortages and closures of doctoral programs over the years.
One response to building capacity has been the development of so-called sandwich programs between universities. Such a PhD program would be based largely in Africa, with some time in Europe or the United States. Sandwich programs make it less likely that students will migrate after finishing their studies and increase capacity building via the partnerships between the institutions involved, according to experts cited by SciDev.
Another way to retain researchers may be to create places for the brightest students to study without the need to travel overseas. One main driving force behind the African Union’s decision to establish the Pan African University was to reduce the brain drain by creating such centers of excellence.
While it is clear that Sub-Saharan African governments and institutions need to create conditions that encourage researchers to remain on the continent, the migration of African academics to institutions in the West also has many benefits. Recently, Africa has seen an increasing number of multinational companies opening research hubs in Africa as the continent’s economy grows. Many of the researchers they are looking to employ are those with skills attained at the best research institutes in the world.
Even those researchers who have migrated overseas and will never return are not necessarily lost to the continent. Having African scholars based at top research institutions across the world presents opportunities for Africa, particularly as Western universities increasingly look for international collaborations. With increasing speeds of internet connection across Africa, it has become easier to connect academics working outside Africa with those in African institutions.
Clearly, governments and institutions across Sub-Saharan Africa must address the lack of infrastructure, opportunities and facilities that force academics to migrate, states SciDev, but they must also recognize that, in an increasingly interconnected world, the academic diaspora should be seen not as a drain, but rather as a huge resource that should be fully engaged for the development of the continent.
July 24, 2014
U.S. Development Program Helping to Graduate More Doctors
A U.S.-government project to strengthen medical education in sub-Saharan Africa is reporting broad progress in addressing the continent’s critical shortages of physicians and health care workers, reports The New York Times.
The four-year-old, $130 million program, the Medical Education Partnership Initiative, has given grants to 13 academic institutions in 12 countries. In the journal Academic Medicine, more than 200 participants detail their progress in increasing student enrollment, developing research capacity and broadening curriculums.
This fall, for example, Botswana’s new school of medicine will achieve a milestone, graduating its first class — 36 doctors. The school still struggles to retain teaching staff, but by 2015, it expects to graduate 50 a year. In Mozambique, Eduardo Mondlane University has joined forces with the University of California, San Diego, to revamp its internal medicine program with improvements including higher salaries, curriculum changes and bedside internet access to research databases like PubMed; as a result, the number of internist residents has more than doubled, to 75 in 2012.
The MEPI program is funded through 2015. Its second phase is being discussed.
– The New York Times
August 11, 2014
Business Schools Expand into Africa
The Wall Street Journal reports that business schools located in the West are looking at Africa as a new frontier in which to establish outposts and campuses.
The business school of Milan’s Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore successfully launched an MBA program in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2011, expanding to Accra, Ghana, last year. But it decided to delay the start of a Sierra Leone-based MBA program to at least mid-November, and possibly January, from September, because of public health concerns. St. Louis-based Webster University opened an Accra location in March. The school expects a 150-student entering class next year. Webster has invested about $3.5 million in the Ghana venture so far, and Provost Julian Schuster says the school is on track to break even within three to five years.
Udo Steffens, president and chief executive officer of Germany’s Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, sees the same vision. “The business opportunity is huge,” he told the WSJ. His school started a master’s degree in microfinance in Kinshasa in 2009 alongside the Université Protestante au Congo. Prof. Steffens says he is optimistic because the Congo is still “a virgin market” for high-quality, European-style education.
China Europe International Business School is capitalizing on entrepreneurs as well. That school created a program for women entrepreneurs in Ghana in 2012, expanded into Nigeria last year and started a class in Kenya this year. Multinational firms’ demand for well-trained managers is fueling much of the interest in creating new Africa programs.
Duke Corporate Education, a wholly owned subsidiary of Duke University, derives between 10 percent and 20 percent of its revenue from training programs for African clients, such as banks, mining companies and telecommunication firms, according to the WSJ article. In July, HEC Paris has also signed deals with Ivory Coast’s ministries of state and foreign affairs, and a federation of private companies across that country, to lead programs for hundreds of public- and private-sector executives.
– Wall Street Journal
August 6, 2014
China to Help Establish Academy for Science and Technology
In cooperation with China, Algeria plans to set up an academy for science and technology, in an effort to boost the role of research in developing a knowledge-based economy.
The new academy was one of the projects included in an early September China-Algeria science, technology and higher education cooperation agreement, according to a report published by China Network. The new academy will act as a collective hub to organize scientific projects as well as motivate, support and reward excellence in scientific research.
It will act as a think-tank that brings together multidisciplinary expertise to advise policy-makers on how to address present challenges facing Algeria, and to help envision strategies for driving future development including critiquing science policies.
Under the China-Algeria higher education cooperation agreement, exchange of students and university staff will be developed and there will be postdoctoral training and the development of enhanced partnerships between universities in the two countries. China and Algeria agreed to work on structured research projects centered on social concerns and major economic common interests as well as the development of the Chinese language in Algeria.
– University World News
September 12, 2014
The Appeal of South Africa as an International Study Destination
The first major study of international students in South Africa has found pull factors to be affordable fees, government subsidies for students from the region, proximity to home and cost of living, and the strong reputation of higher education.
These are among many ‘pull’ factors cited by nearly 1,700 students in a recent survey, while aspects such as accommodation difficulties, language, lack of funding opportunities, support and adjustment challenges, lack of South African friends and sometimes xenophobic attitudes towards African students were among obstacles international students articulated.
The survey was conducted by researchers from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and covered seven public universities in Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Gauteng provinces. There were 1,682 student respondents, and interviews were conducted at five universities with 50 respondents. Among the students surveyed, 52 percent were female and 79 percent were from Africa, 8 percent each were from Europe and North America, 4 percent were from Asia and 1 percent from elsewhere. Four in 10 were enrolled on a bachelor’s program, while just under a quarter where studying at the master’s level, and just under one in five was enrolled in a doctoral program.
According to the just-published edition of Study South Africa, an annual publication, the number of international students has “grown dramatically” since 1994, the year the country achieved democracy, from 12,600 to 72,875 in 2012.
The primary economic reason for choosing South Africa over other popular study-abroad destinations was affordable fees compared to the United States and United Kingdom. Another important factor was the SADC protocol – under which regional students pay the same fees as local students and are subsidized by the South African government. Students listed primary reasons for choosing a particular university as the fee structure, parental or sponsor preference, the institution’s reputation in the discipline to be studied, educational quality and the availability of supervision and expertise.
– University World News
September 6, 2014
New International University and Research Zones Announced
Tunisia has officially unveiled an economic development mega-project that will house research and science, university and medical ‘cities’ and will include a range of research centers, science institutes and branches of foreign universities.
Tunisia Economic City, a huge economic and urban development project, was officially announced during an internationally sponsored conference titled “Invest in Tunisia Startup Democracy,” held in early September in the capital Tunis.
Located in the Enfidha district, which lies strategically in the heart of the Mediterranean – at the crossroads between Africa, Europe and the Middle East – the 90 square kilometer Tunisia Economic City will cost an estimated US$50 billion and will provide 250,000 jobs once completed in 15 years. It is hoped the project will help ease an unemployment problem, especially among university graduates.
The new city will consist of 14 smart zones and four economic centers – tourist, academic, health and commercial – in addition to residential areas. The academic center will include a research hub, University City, Medical City and an agriculture center. The aim is for University City to include the best international universities and schools, to enable Arab and Tunisian students to obtain higher education in excellent conditions. There are currently two foreign branch campuses in Tunisia (both French): ESMOD and Paris Dauphine University.
– University World News
September 19, 2014