WENR, June 2015: Africa


Overseas-Educated Graduates Underused

African and European cooperation has produced a growing number of African graduates who have studied abroad. But the continent is not benefitting as much as it should from their world-class talent because, although the graduates want to contribute to capacity building in their fields, local conditions are not conducive, a recent study has found.

The study [1] revealed that most Africans who partly or fully studied for degrees through European Union-funded programs and returned to their home countries, and African academic diaspora based in European universities, were keen to contribute to higher education in Africa. But the Study on the Contribution of the Alumni and Diaspora to the Joint Africa-EU Strategy found that conditions in Africa on many levels were not attractive enough to fully use their acquired skills.

African graduates offered EU-funding and grants from national institutions in Germany and France were highly optimistic about bringing change to African higher education through short-term or long-term teaching, supervision of masters and PhD theses, joint research and sharing research results. Among the African countries that have benefitted the most from the grant schemes are Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tunisia and Uganda.

African academics in the diaspora said in the study that they were prevented from fully contributing to higher education development in Africa due to poor infrastructure and badly maintained facilities in institutions and a shortage of materials, specifically for research. Others complained about lack of incentives and financial support from African governments. Some academics reported difficulties in trying to interact with local professors who often mistrusted them. Other constraints were listed as inadequate time to participate in research programs and insecurity in countries of origin.

University World News [2]
May 22, 2015


As Student Numbers Surge, Government Cuts Funding

Kenya’s public universities are facing a 6 percent cut to funding from the national budget in the coming financial year, which begins in July, despite a 28 percent expansion in student numbers and similar projections for next year.

Data released in April by the government show that public and private universities enrolled 443,783 students last year, up from 361,379 in 2013. Enrollment numbers have more than doubled since 2012 when there were 218,628 students.

The rise in student numbers has been buoyed by an increase in the number of public and private universities, which grew from 58 in 2011 to 68 now – comprising 22 public chartered universities including three technical universities, nine public university constituent colleges, 17 private chartered universities, 12 universities operating with letters of interim authority, five private university constituent colleges and two registered private universities.

The inability of the government to match student numbers with funding is expected to frustrate plans to expand higher education. For instance, Kenya is planning to set up at least 20 new public universities as it seeks to devolve higher education to counties that currently have none.

University World News [3]
May 8, 2015

Universities to Award Degrees Only

Kenya’s Commission for University Education (CUE) has directed universities to stop teaching diploma and certificate programs by July, and also to end collaboration with middle-level colleges in delivering non-degree programs.

With higher education in Kenya witnessing exponential growth, some colleges – particularly commercial ones – have been offering diploma programs in collaboration with universities in a relationship that helped colleges enroll students and brought income in for underfunded universities.

About one third of students in universities are enrolled in diploma or certificate programs, most of them privately funded. But last October the government asked the CUE to move fast to enforce the 2014 act by ensuring that universities drop non-degree programs. Some universities could lose up to 40 percent of their current private fee income as a result, according to some estimates.

University World News [4]
May 15, 2015

New Regulations: Masters Degrees to be Completed in Two Years, Lecturers Must Hold PhD

New regulations issued by the Commission for University Education require that graduate students complete their programs in two years. Previously, master’s students have taken as long as five years to complete their degrees. Those pursuing a masters, especially people with work commitments, might be forced to take leave of absence to complete their studies within the new deadlines or face discontinuation.

Under the same regulations, the CUE also said that all lecturers will only be considered qualified after obtaining a doctorate. Those with master’s qualifications, no matter their years of experience or number of publications, will only be able to be appointed as junior lecturers and tutorial fellows. Previously, universities had the leeway to appoint lecturers irrespective of whether or not they held a PhD.

For a scholar to be appointed as an associate professor, the guidelines will require them to have supervised at least four graduate students, while a full professor must have supervised at least five PhD students. Currently, one can rise to full professorship without having necessarily supervised PhD students.

Kenya is pursuing renewed efforts to grow the number of lecturers in the country. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, for example, has proposed new regulations that will compel universities to ensure that 25 percent of graduates each year are at the doctoral level, as it seeks to address the huge shortage of university lecturers. Government estimates show that only around 5 percent of people leaving universities in the past three years had attained a masters or PhD qualification, with the majority being self-financed, working adults pursuing business-related studies.

The new PhD training program is to be rolled out through scholarships. A new scholarship scheme funded by the African Development Bank has also been announced, aimed at training more lecturers and boosting teaching in the fields of science, engineering and technology in Kenya’s new universities.

University World News [5]
May 22, 2015


Four Colleges of Education to Upgrade to Universities

The Nigerian Federal Government has announced that four colleges of education will be upgrade to universities of education.

The institutions: Alvan Ikoku College of Education, Owerri, Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo, Federal College of Education, Zaria and Federal College of Education, Kano are now Federal Universities of Education after approval by the Federal Executive Council in May.

This Day [6]
May 24, 2015


Universities to Seek Alternate Sources of Income with 50% Cut to Lecturer Salaries

State-owned universities in Zimbabwe have started gearing up for the commercialization of their activities after the government warned that it could cut its salary obligations to state higher education institutions by 50 percent in the near future.

Although there has been no official policy pronouncement from the ZANU-PF government, University World News has been told that Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Oppah Muchinguri has advised the vice-chancellors of all state universities to start focusing on commercial projects.

The reason they need to bolster private income streams is that the government can only afford half of its current higher education salary obligations. The move follows a nationwide strike by state university lecturers protesting against unpaid salaries and bonuses.

University World News [7]
May 15, 2015