WENR, May 2016: Africa

Nigeria: Mismanaged exams affect 1.5 million, spark protests nationwide

Nigerian cities including Lagos, Abuja, and Ilorin erupted in protest after nearly 1.5 million students struggled to complete the 2016 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination. Computer malfunctions and incorrect test scores were just some of the problems that test takers experienced. Some 59,000 candidates in 15 states, for instance, were reassigned to new exam centers, many without notice. Affected test takers came from across the Nigerian federation, as well as from other parts of Africa and the Middle East; they will be allowed to retake the test, although no plan for retesting them is yet in place. Nigerian student mobility and international students alike are suffering the effects of a global downturn in oil prices.

April 22
University World News

China/Africa higher education partnerships inspire imitation

In what’s widely seen as a move to increase its soft power in Sub-Saharan Africa, China has recently made significant higher education investments in both Africans and Africa.  In December 2015, for instance, Chinese President Xi Jinping introduced plans to, among other goals, “offer African students 2,000 education opportunities with degrees or diplomas and 30,000 government scholarships.” In the last few years, China has also established more than 46 Confucius Institutes — Mandarin-language focused programs embedded on university campuses around the globe — in 32 African countries. Although lack of African funding has limited the scope and impact of such partnerships, other Asian countries may replicate the approach.  India plans to establish 100 “capacity-building institutions” in Africa, and plans to offer approximately 50,000 scholarships to African students.

April 21
Times Higher Education

Somaliland high school paves the way to the Ivy League

How has a seven year-old Somaliland high school with some 200 predominantly underprivileged students landed dozens of students at top-tier U.S. higher education institutions?  Since 2014, Somaliland’s Abaarso School has helped 74 graduates earn admission to schools including Harvard, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Yale, and Brown.  The bulk of students receive full scholarships,  and have obtained more than $12 million in funding to date.  Partly due to lack of international recognition (despite 25 years of de facto independence from Somalia), Somaliland’s higher education system remains underdeveloped.

April 21
CNN Money

Uganda: Government reverses course on college upgrades; plans 20 new technical colleges instead

Citing a lack of quality assurance, the uncertain market value of tertiary degrees versus technical certifications, and unhappiness with the results of an ad hoc and money-driven approach to converting colleges to universities, Uganda plans to reverse higher education policies that promoted colleges to university status. The plan is to introduce 20 new technical colleges, instead, to provide students with employable skills rather than academic expertise. Youth unemployment in Uganda is estimated between 62 and 83 percent, and is the highest in Africa.

University World News
April 16

Kenya: New guidelines will address national test scandal

In the wake of last month’s revelations about widespread cheating on Kenyan university entrance exams — and the dissolution and of the board overseeing the exams — the ministry of education has announced new guidelines and stiff new penalties intended to curb fraud. Some 500,000 sat for the exam in 2015; roughly 5,100 results were disqualified due to cheating. Many other test-takers were suspected of fraud, and test answers were believed to have been leaked by security personnel. The Kenyan government has sought to crack down on quality issues in the higher education sector; earlier this year,  the national Commission for University Education launched an audit of all public universities, in the wake of revelations that hundreds of tertiary institutions were operating illegally.

April 16

Ghana: International branch campuses under scrutiny

Ghana announced new restrictions on the accreditation of new private universities. Under the new rules, tertiary institutions with strong science, mathematics and engineering program will be given preference. The restrictions were unveiled as part of a larger higher ed reform package that also targets transnational education providers, and seeks to limit the proliferation of international branch campuses in Ghana.

April 14

Kenya: Biometric data collection for all higher ed students

All Kenyan colleges and universities will be required to collect biometric data on students beginning in August of this year. Fingerprinting will be standard, as will collection of passport photos, and coursework programs for each student. The push for more student information is part of a broader governmental effort to reduce the threat of terrorism.

Biometric Update
April 13

South Africa: Student protests wreak an estimated USD $21 million in damages

Student protests across 14 South African universities have caused USD $21 million in property damage during the 2015-2016 school year.  Among the universities, the hardest hit were North West, Western Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal.  A handful of institutions – including University of South Africa, Central University of Technology, Durban University, and University of Fort Hare – have not reported property damage totals yet, so the total could grow.  Another small group of universities escaped with no major damage – Vaal University of Technology, Magosuthu University of Technology, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, and the University of Pretoria. Damages at this scale are among the factors that make it difficult for international students to obtain the documents they need to enroll in institutions abroad.

April 13

Nigeria: Student protests force closure of University of Lagos

In response to student protests over water quality, lack of power, and fuel shortages, officials closed  the University of Lagos in early April.  Fuel shortages in Nigeria have kept many students from traveling to the university; many students in campus housing faced inadequate living conditions, due in particular, to lack of electricity. Officials reopened the campus on May 2, in time for students to take final exams. Students will not be readmitted without completed and notarized reauthorization forms.

BBC News
April 8, 2016

South Africa: New policy to address university internationalization, joint degrees

South Africa announced plans to expedite international student enrollment and cut down on red tape related to immigration. The country has historically lacked a policy regarding internationalization of the higher education sector, despite the presence of some 50,000 international students.  The internationalization policy has been a “work in progress” since November 2014. The final draft, to be published in the spring of 2017, will include, among other things, guidelines on joint degrees.  “We don’t encourage ‘double degrees’ where a student studies in South Africa and a European country at the same time and ends up with two degrees; we would rather have a joint degree with one certificate bearing the logos of two, or even three institutions,” said an official from the Department of Higher Education and Training.

University World News
April 8


Posted in Africa, Regional News Summaries