WENR, September 2016: Africa

South Africa: Violent Protests Lead to Campus Shutdown

In the wake of a degrees-for-cash scandal, violent protests led administrators at the University of Zululand to give students two hours to empty its main campus, located in KwaZulu-Natal province. Academic programs were suspended indefinitely, but faculty and staff were asked to remain on campus. The campus, located in KwaDlangezwa, is one of two University of Zululand locations affected by a decades-long scam that enabled the purchase of some 4,000 fake degrees. The scam was revealed earlier this summer.

August 30

Uganda: 1,200 Nursing Graduates Lack Training to Practice, Says Midwifery Council

Four universities in Uganda are implicated in a credentialing scandal that may affect some 1,200 nursing students. The students were admitted into nursing and midwifery training programs despite the fact that they did not meet entry requirements in biology and chemistry. The students received qualifications from their universities, but ran into roadblocks when they attempted to register with the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council. The institutions they attended were Uganda Christian University, Bishop Stuart University, International Health Sciences University, and Kampala International University.

August 29

South Africa: Uncertainty Over University Tuition Fees Threatens Systemwide Stability

Sixteen of South Africa’s 26 public institutions of higher education  face a nearly USD $279 million budget shortfall for 2017-18 – a gap that observers call “staggering.” Even top universities such as the University of Witwatersrand, the University of Cape Town, and the University of Johannesburg have not escaped the squeeze; violent student protests at the latter have included the firebombing of a 1,000-seat auditorium. A tuition freeze in 2016 deepened the financial crisis faced by institutions. On August 11, the minister of higher education Blade Nzimande recommended fee hikes pegged to the national inflation rate. Although need by institutions, the recommended may further inflame widespread protests by students whose sustained “fees must fall” campaign has often turned violent.

University World News
August 27

Kenya: Open University Approved Amid Ongoing Quality Struggles in Higher Ed Sector

Kenya’s Education Cabinet has cleared the way for the creation of the country’s first Open University. The Open University employs an online and remote learning model, allowing students to obtain instruction online and study at home using pre-packaged learning materials. The goal is to expand higher education access to more students at a low cost. In recent years, Kenya’s higher education sector has expanded exponentially, resulting in an ongoing struggle to maintain minimum quality standards. The Kenyan Commission for University Education shuttered 10 campuses of one of the country’s fastest growing public universities, Kisii University, in January. This month, it discontinued 42 substandard academic programs from both public and private universities.

August 27

Tanzania: 2,000 Ghost Students Get Real USD $150M in Loans

Some 2,000 tertiary-level enrollments are in question after students failed to appear for a two-month identity verification exercise. The students in question were recipients of some USD $1.5 million from Tanzania’s Higher Education Students’ Loans Board (HESLB). The board grants loans to roughly 40,000 students annually; the loans are dispersed through about 50 higher education institutions; 31 were audited. Institutions where the supposed students were enrolled were asked to return funds to the HESLB within a week. Auditors found that the program is plagued by sloppy record keeping, lack of online registration, suspect collection agents, and lack of procedures to redress customer complaints.

University World News
August 26

Pan-Africa: Regional Passport May Increase Academic Mobility

A new pan-African passport seeks to provide visa-free access to all 54 member nations of the African Union. Among other goals, the passport seeks to increase intra-African academic mobility and intra-African research collaborations. However, obtaining visas will require that potential recipients clear substantial bureaucratic and financial barriers. Moreover, the lack of intra-regional consistency in higher education infrastructure, quality and cost may make it difficult to meet students’ diverse needs. At launch, the passport will be available only to African Union dignitaries and officials. A full roll-out is planned by 2018.

University World News
August 2626

South Africa: ELTs Take Government to Court In Search of a Solution to High Rates of Visa Denials

South Africa’s national association of 24 English language centers, Education South Africa (EduSA) has taken the South African government to court, asking that members be granted a designation as “learning institutions.” The case was filed in response to regulatory changes, which, two years ago excluded English Language Teaching (ELT) centers from the learning institution designation and led to a decline in visa awards to English language learners. Estimates from 2014 and 2015 show a 37 percent drop in enrollments in ELT courses from 2013. EduSA charges that the regulatory change has led to chaos, job loss, and closures across the ELT industry.

ELT Journal
August 23

Algeria:12-Year-Old Higher Education Reforms Still Making Waves

Algeria’s minister of higher education wanted to align two distinct and conflicting sets of academic requirements as early as the academic semester that begins in September. One is the European system, the LMD (Licence, Master, Doctorat), a 3-2-4 system adopted in 2004. The other is Algeria’s classical system, which requires at least four years at each level. However mass student protests, in favor of the classical system and against the 3-2-4 LMD approach, may derail the effort. The ministry is so far standing firm in its intent to move fully to the European model.  “We must adopt a single educational system, as it is the case in all countries worldwide,” said a ministry spokesman. Its timeline has wavered. A September switch is off the table. For now, both paths will run in tandem until at least 2018.

Al-Fanar Media
August 16

Posted in Africa, Regional News Summaries