WENR, November 2016: Africa
Uganda: University Protests Escalate
Ongoing protests are roiling Uganda’s nine public universities. Makerere University and Kampala University are among those most deeply affected, as students and lecturers demonstrate against multiple grievances. Reform efforts in Uganda’s higher ed sector have been ongoing throughout the year. Last spring, the Ugandan government announced plans to reverse higher education policies that elevated some colleges to university status, and to open 20 new technical colleges in an effort to provide students with employable skills. Youth unemployment in Uganda is estimated between 62 and 83 percent, and is the highest in Africa.
Kenya: Underfunded and Over-Enrolled, Top Polytechnic Institution May not Survive
The Technical University of Kenya (TUK), once Kenya’s top polytechnic institute, is struggling to stay afloat in the face of overwhelming debt. The institution received university status in January 2013. Increased enrollments have since strained the TUK’s resources to the breaking point; the institution cannot pay lecturers, contractors, suppliers, or government agencies, and cannot meet other financial obligations. TUK now has an estimated USD $19.6 million (or more) in unmanageable debt.
South Africa: International Student Visas Expire, Threatening Universities’ Research Capacity
#FeesMustFall protests in South Africa, ongoing since 2015, are threatening universities’ ability to complete scientific research. Campuses calmed somewhat after protesters secured a freeze on fees for the current academic year, but violence ratcheted up again in September when fee increases were reinstated. Many undergraduate classes, including those at the University of Cape Town (UCT), have been suspended. Labs at the nation’s 26 universities have been affected, albeit to varying degrees. Some scientists have continued working despite campus closures, while researchers at others have not been so lucky: At the University of the Western Cape, funding remains unspent, as international study visas and bursaries for master’s and doctoral students expire, leaving research incomplete.
Nigeria: Commission Eradicates Sub-Degree Diplomas, Initiates Other Reforms
Nigeria’s National Universities Commission (NUC) has reportedly instructed universities to shutter sub-degree programs immediately. The NUC also announced plans to launch a comprehensive review of the university curricula, release a new ranking of Nigerian universities, and implement new accreditation protocols for both institutions and programs. Early this year, leaders of 143 private, state, and federal universities across Nigeria launched a private-public partnership to address chronic and systematic quality issues across the country’s higher education sector. Roughly 1.7 million Nigerian students are enrolled in tertiary education. In 2014/2015, IIE reported that Nigerian students were among the fastest growing populations of international students enrolled at U.S. institutions.
Pan-Africa: Lack of Data Hampers Development of Transnational Education Policies
Transnational education presents an interesting model for institutions looking to expand access to education in Africa and to offer students cross-border learning experiences. But researchers say that data about how the sector operates across Africa is severely lacking. This lack of data hampers regulators seeking to set policy around internationalization strategies, accreditation and quality assurance, recognition of foreign qualifications, visa and immigration guidelines, and more. It may also make international program providers less likely to establish programs.
University World News
Zimbabwe: Government Moves Forward with Plans To Allow Polytechnics & Teachers Colleges to Grant Degrees
Zimbabwe is evaluating how to transform teachers colleges and polytechnics into degree-awarding institutions. To that end, the country ’s minister of higher and tertiary education has appointed a committee to examine governance and management structures. The committee will draft recommendations for preferred approaches, and provide an analysis of funding implications of the proposals and of potential funding sources. Once drafted, the recommendations from the committees will be subject to additional governmental review and approval.