University World News Africa Edition – 2 December 2018

Universities face mounting pressure to tap into alternative funding sources

Higher education budget cuts in Kenya serve as the starting point for this week’s Africa Analysis by Paul Zeleza who highlights the need for universities to attract more funds for research from stakeholders, including business, philanthropic foundations and governments.

In related News from Kenya, Gilbert Nganga reports on the likelihood of an increase in fees in the wake of the university budget cuts, while Gilbert Nakweya interviews officials from the University of Nairobi who say the institution is committed to building its alumni association out of recognition of the importance of alumni as a resource for the university sector.

In Africa Features, Kudzai Mashininga looks back over the past year since former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe’s departure from office and the progress of the new government towards its higher education reforms, and Sharon Dell tracks a recent debate about the findings of a South African Human Rights Commission report into racial tensions at the distance education provider, the University of South Africa.

In our World Blog this week, Patrick Blessinger, Enakshi Sengupta and Taisir Subhi Yamin write that one type of renewable resource that is needed for continued human progress and a sustainable future is the resource of lifelong learning.

In the series on Transformative Leadership, published in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, Nic Mitchell unpacks a barometer report on access to higher education that says most countries are failing to tackle the issue of unequal access, with a large number paying only “lip service” to the equity agenda.

Sharon Dell – Editor

AFRICA NEWS

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Amnesty issues warning in wake of student killings

Wagdy Sawahel

Calls for police-free university campuses in the wake of the killing by police of two students from the University of Kinshasa have coincided with a warning by Amnesty international about a “hostile political environment” ahead of election campaigning in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

KENYA

Government sets the stage for higher tuition fees

Gilbert Nganga

The Kenyan government has ruled out any future increase in funding to universities. In a blow to a sector reeling from a financial crisis, university administrators have said the most practical response will be to raise tuition fees.

KENYA

University in bid to make better use of its alumni

Gilbert Nakweya

Kenya’s University of Nairobi is committed to growing its existing alumni association in order to tap into the rich but largely untapped expertise and potential support of its alumni.

KENYA

Students turn to sports betting to meet campus costs

Christabel Ligami

Cash-strapped Kenyan students are turning to sports betting instead of relying on loans or parental support, often with negative consequences for their studies.

AFRICA

Too few agriculture students means fewer experts – Study

Gilbert Nakweya

Recent research exploring the lacklustre uptake in formal agricultural studies at universities in Africa suggests that low enrolment by students is a key cause of a shortage of experts to drive the African development agenda, and points to the need for more programmes to promote agriculture to youth.

AFRICA

44 universities chosen for ACE development impact project

Kudzai Mashininga

Forty-four universities in 12 West and Central African countries have been conditionally selected as centres of excellence under a US$300 million World Bank and French Development Agency-funded project aimed at scaling up postgraduate education and applied research.

AFRICA ANALYSIS

AFRICA

Bridging the research university budget gap

Paul Zeleza

Spending per student on tertiary education has fallen in 37 countries this century, 16 of them in Africa. Research universities in Africa have to find ways to attract more funding from business, philanthropic foundations and governments and to develop a culture of alumni giving back.

AFRICA

How Africa can provide the leadership the world needs

Ihron Rensburg

Our attempts to transform the colonial narrative have not been ambitious enough to change structures and cultures. Underpinned by a philosophy of ubuntu, Global Africa can provide a new form of leadership for the world based on inclusion, cooperation and interdependence.

ETHIOPIA

Towards a persified system of quality assurance

Wondwosen Tamrat

Strengthening the overall capacity of the national quality assurance agency and complementing its efforts through the creation of a more persified system is now urgent if the country is to take seriously the need for robust quality assurance in a rapidly evolving higher education sector.

AFRICA FEATURES

SOUTH AFRICA

Report on university racial tension sparks furious debate

Sharon Dell

A report from the South African Human Rights Commission investigation into allegations of racial tension, unfair discrimination and harassment at the University of South Africa has produced heated media debate on whether equity policies overlook merit and about the ‘delegitimisation of black pain’.

ZIMBABWE

After Mugabe – ‘Not much has changed in HE’

Kudzai Mashininga

A year after the departure of Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe after 37 years in power, opinion is pided on how much progress the new government under Emmerson Mnangagwa has made in reforming the country’s struggling higher education sector.

AFRICA BRIEFS

AFRICA-FRANCE

African students in France protest planned fees increase

Petitions in France launched by African students’ associations have gathered more than 160,000 signatures against the French government’s plan to substantially raise university fees for foreign students from outside the European Union.

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report

CHINA

Scientists condemn ‘high-risk’ gene editing breakthrough

Yojana Sharma

In an apparent backlash against uncontrolled and unethical human embryo research in China, more than 120 Chinese scientists have signed a letter condemning the use of gene editing technology on humans, which reportedly led to two babies born this year using the technologies.

CHILE

Universities demand change to free tuition policy

María Elena Hurtado

Universities facing financial constraints and a shortfall in income linked to the free tuition policy for low-income students are demanding a fast track bill to amend it. A group of 27 universities says its members’ income will fall by US$65 billion next year.

UNITED KINGDOM

Proposal to levy employers instead of charging students

Brendan O’Malley

Instead of students borrowing money to pay for tuition, businesses should pay a levy for each graduate they employ, according to the outline of a radical new approach to funding higher education, published by the Higher Education Policy Institute in the United Kingdom.

AUSTRALIA

Labor accuses government of ‘waging war on science’

Geoff Maslen

The Labor opposition has opened a new front line in the battle for next year’s election, accusing the government of ‘waging a war on science’ and pledging to make research and development a key to Australia’s future should it win office.

DENMARK

Action plan to increase ‘pay-off’ from Horizon 2020

Jan Petter Myklebust

The Danish ministry of higher education and science has launched a national action plan to secure increased Danish participation in the European Union research programme Horizon 2020 and the 2021-27 Horizon Europe programme and a higher share of coordinator roles in consortia.

COMMENTARY

GLOBAL

Engaging partners is a key role for HE in sustainability

Josep M Vilalta, Alicia Betts, Victoria Gómez and Marta Cayetano

A group of higher education experts met recently to discuss how to make the Sustainable Development Goals reality and the need to help universities make the transition from ivory towers to partners for change by engaging other social actors.

GLOBAL

The role of HE in a politically disrupted world

Andrée Sursock

To promote free and open inquiry, ethics and research integrity and the relevance of higher education to its communities and to the world at large requires a rethink about how universities engage with society.

CHINA

A world leader in gene-edited babies, but at what cost?

Guillaume Levrier

Recent reports that China has produced the first gene-edited babies have provoked a lot of discussion and are evidence of the new technological race in controversial scientific practices.

WORLD BLOG

GLOBAL

Higher education for a sustainable future

Patrick Blessinger, Enakshi Sengupta and Taisir Subhi Yamin

For a sustainable future we need to promote renewable resources. The one type of renewable resource that is also needed for continued human progress is the resource of lifelong learning. It is vital to our continuing ability to harvest human intelligence, creativity and ingenuity.

TRANSFORMATIVE LEADERSHIP

GLOBAL

Most countries failing to tackle unequal access to HE

Nic Mitchell

Although six countries stand out for their policy commitment to providing equal opportunities of access and success in higher education, worldwide only one in three of more than 70 countries surveyed have defined specific participation targets for any equity group, new global research shows.

GLOBAL

More to widening access to HE than just financial aid

Nic Mitchell

Widening access to and participation in higher education is not enough to tackle social exclusion; psychological support for disadvantaged students struggling with the problems they face at university is just as important, the first World Access to Higher Education Day conference heard.

MIDDLE EAST

Digital programme gives Syrian refugees access to HE

Nic Mitchell

Higher education has for years been overlooked by aid programmes. But universities in the United Kingdom, Jordan and Lebanon are partnering in a UK aid scheme helping Syrian refugees access good quality short courses that will open a pathway into formal academic qualifications.

ACADEMIC FREEDOM

NEW ZEALAND

PM urged to speak out against harassment of China expert

Yojana Sharma

Academics and human rights advocates in New Zealand have urged Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to protect the academic freedom of a professor who has faced months of alleged harassment – including a burgled office – ostensibly for her work critical of China’s influence abroad.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

UAE bows to pressure, jailed UK researcher freed

Brendan O’Malley

Matthew Hedges, the United Kingdom PhD researcher sentenced to life for ‘spying’ in the United Arab Emirates, has been pardoned and has returned to the UK. However, at the announcement of his release, officials showed a video they claimed was evidence that he had confessed, which he denies.

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WORLD ROUND-UP

CANADA

Professor fights ban amid debate on academic freedom

A professor who has taken a stand against the publication of research in ‘predatory’ journals that aren’t peer reviewed says he has been suspended from the campus of the university where he works in the Interior of British Columbia, writes Camille Bains for The Canadian Press.

INDIA

India eases rules on foreign recruitment at universities

India’s University Grants Commission has confirmed that all doctoral degree holders from the top 500 foreign universities will be eligible for direct recruitment as an assistant professor in Indian universities, reports The Indian Wire.

SOUTH AFRICA

Fake qualifications a major concern, says minister

Misrepresentation of qualifications is a major concern in South Africa in the public and private sectors, according to Higher Education and Training Minister Naledi Pandor, writes Bekezela Phakathi for Business Day.

UNITED KINGDOM

Tuition fee cut will send universities into crisis – VCs

A cut to tuition fees will send universities into a crisis which could see science courses cut and leave museums at risk of closure, Britain’s leading vice-chancellors have warned, writes Camilla Turner for The Telegraph.

UNITED STATES

DeVos warns of crisis over ballooning student debt

United States Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says ballooning student debt has caused a crisis in higher education and that the traditional path to college might not be the best choice for everyone, writes Collin Binkley for Associated Press.

UGANDA

Vice-chancellors want VAT on universities scrapped

The Ugandan government should exempt universities and other institutions of learning from paying some taxes to enable them to deliver on their mandate better, university leaders have said, writes Ritah Kemigisa for the Daily Monitor.

UNITED KINGDOM

UK universities to probe degree awards policies

Universities are to hold a sector-wide inquiry into the increasing number of first-class and upper second-class degrees awarded, following a report that warns of potential damage to the integrity of United Kingdom higher education, writes Richard Adams for The Guardian.

CHINA

Chinese universities perform well in tech rankings

Chinese universities have again performed well in global rankings for computer science and engineering technology, according to a league table released last Thursday, reports Xinhua.

MALAYSIA

Bridging the talent gap in cybersecurity is a must

Malaysia’s Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching has urged information technology staff to be given skills training to insulate themselves and their organisations from the growing threat of cyberattacks, writes Rozana Sani for New Straits Times.

AUSTRALIA

Labor vows to tackle sexual harassment at universities

Labor is threatening to withhold funding from universities that fail to take serious action against sexual harassment and abuse, if it wins the next federal election, reports SBS News.

CHINA

Hong Kong and Beijing universities partner to drive AI

The University of Hong Kong and Beijing’s Tsinghua University have announced a strategic partnership to drive artificial intelligence discoveries and adoption in an effort to position both cities as global leaders in tech innovation, reports the Innovation Enterprise.

CANADA

Canadian universities now growing marijuana on campus

Eight academic institutions across Canada have obtained licences from Health Canada to cultivate cannabis for scientific purposes, allowing them to study the drug that was legalised for recreational use in October, writes Liam Casey for The Canadian Press.

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