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September/October 2003
Volume 16, Issue 5
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Explaining the Bologna Process to Non-Europeans

Middle East
Russia & CIS

The Bologna Process: As Seen From the Outside

International Grade ConversionsWorld Education DatabankWorkshops

Regional News

Conference Focuses on
Tertiary Education in
Sub-Saharan Africa

In September, tertiary education experts from Sub-Saharan Africa met in Ghana to discuss the problems of declining academic standards, limited budgets and increasing pressure to admit an ever-increasing number of students. The three-day conference was sponsored by the World Bank, among others, and attracted several hundred participants.

Some African governments are initiating reforms in the tertiary education sector, but there is concern that some of the initiatives are not having the desired effect. Among the organizations expressing doubt is the Association of African Universities. Countries that are introducing major policy changes include Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Mauritania, Mozambique and Namibia. Conference participants examined several case studies; transcripts from all the sessions are available on the World Bank’s Web site.

Sept. 23, 2003

Strikes Shutter
West African Universities

The only two universities in Niger and Mali were shut down in early October after students and lecturers in the two impoverished West African countries went on strike over payment, promotion and working conditions. The University of Mali reopened less than two weeks later without the strikers’ demands being met, and the University of Niger reopened Oct. 27.

In Niger, students joined teachers over fears the government is going to abolish monthly stipends and privatize dining and transport services. University education in Mali and Niger is free, and any effort to shift some financial burden to students has been frustrated by protests.

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Oct. 31, 2003


Eleven Unauthorized Private Universities

The Ministry of Education recently reiterated its rules for the authorization of private universities in Cameroon and warned that they have entered into a period of strict enforcement of those rules. The process of authorization for private institutions of higher education is a two-step procedure. First, the institution must gain a “creation agreement,” which provides access to bank loans and grants. The second stage is an "authorization to open” agreement, which allows an institution to enroll students.

According to the Ministry of Higher Education, there are 11 institutions that have received official authorization from the ministry to open. Seven others have gained the creation agreement but have not yet satisfied the conditions to gain authorization to open. These are: L’Université des Montagnes, Bamenda University of Science and Technology, l’Ecole Supérieure des Technologies avancées, Douala Institute of Technology, l’Ecole Supérieure des Sciences Appliquées et Modernes, l’Institut Supérieur Kemvouk and l’Institut Universitaire des Sciences Technologiques Nanfah. Four institutions are functioning without either agreement: Hautes Etudes Canadiennes et Internationales, Institut Supérieur de Gestion et des Affaires, Cambridge International College–the British College, International University of Bamenda.

Cameroon Tribune
Sept. 12, 2003


AACC Offers Degree Program

The Addis Ababa Commercial College (AACC) started offering its first degree program this September. The three-year business administration degree course will be offered as a regular program or as a four-year extension program. The degree program is accredited by the Ministry of Education.

Addis Tribune
July 25, 2003


Aga Khan U. Postgraduate Course to Start in November

The Aga Khan University, East Africa’s first private medical school, will offer postgraduate courses in internal medicine, general surgery and radiology beginning in November of this year.

The curriculum for the courses is the result of a consensus reached by medical experts from the University of Nairobi, Moi University, Aga Khan University and the Aga Khan Hospitals in Nairobi and Karachi through a number of workshops. According to academics from Moi University, this is the first time universities in East Africa have come together to agree on course curriculum for one university.

The university’s first program in East Africa is in advanced nursing studies offered at the Kenya Campus, next to the Aga Khan Hospital, Nairobi. The course is accredited by the Kenya Commission for Higher Education and enrolls students for diploma and bachelor-level studies.

The Nation
Aug. 27, 2003

Two Polytechnics to Be Upgraded

The Kenya and Mombasa Polytechnics will be upgraded and transformed into university constituent colleges, the government announced in August. According to the announcement, the two institutions will begin preparations to offer degree programs in collaboration with one of Kenya’s public universities.

When finalized, the Kenya Polytechnic will offer degree courses in computer science, electrical engineering, civil engineering, architecture and aeronautic engineering, according to Minister of Education George Saitoti. Final approval will rest on a decision from the Commission for Higher Education. Mombassa Polytechnic will specialize in marine sciences.

The East African Standard
Aug. 16, 2003

University Offers First Online Course

The University of Nairobi has launched a distance learning bachelor's program in education. The university becomes the first institution in East and Central Africa to launch a program of this kind. So far, 150 teachers nationwide have enrolled for the program.

The East African Standard
Aug. 13, 2003


Country’s Only University Shuts Indefinitely

The National University of Lesotho, the nation’s only university, closed indefinitely in mid-September after student protests over nonpayment of government stipends turned violent. The university board decided to close the institution until the Lesotho government resolves the stipend dispute. Early estimates suggested that classes would be canceled for at least two weeks.

A majority of the 6,000 students studying at the university receive scholarships from the Lesotho Ministry of Finance. A stipend for food and books is deducted from the scholarship, and is supposed to be issued to the students each year to make their own purchases. Graduates are supposed to pay back 50 percent of their scholarships, but they have been reneging on their debts, placing a strain on the scholarship fund.

Delays in stipend payments happen every year, but student demonstrations have not turned violent before. Students, according to a government spokesman, feel more uncertain this year, as the Lesotho government follows other countries in shifting its tuition policy so that students pay more of the cost of their education, or take out commercial loans.

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Sept. 18, 2003


Booker T. Provides Hope for the Future

Booker T. Washington Institute is Liberia’s sole surviving institution of higher learning; the University of Liberia was destroyed in August by the militias of exiled leader Charles Taylor before he left for Nigeria on Aug. 11. The rest of the school system is a wreck.

Named after the black American inventor and educator, Booker T. Washington Institute owes its current existence to the aging group of teachers and overseers who watched over it day and night for the past 16 months while the rest of Liberia fell deeper into the latest cycle of violence in the civil war that has ravaged the country over the past 14 years. With the help of outside donors, the institute was patched up enough by 2000 to admit its first full class of 840 students in a decade. They learned accounting, engineering, business, home economics, secretarial work, auto mechanics, agricultural sciences, carpentry, masonry and plumbing – skills needed to rebuild the country. Then in April 2002, LURD (Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy) rebel militia raided the institute and terrorized students, who have since been too scared to return.

With the nation experiencing relative calm since the removal of Charles Taylor and the introduction of United Nations forces, the institute hopes to reopen as soon as possible, perhaps this winter if funds can be raised to buy books and pay teachers. It will take years to restore the campus. Bids submitted in 1999 for the job ranged from US$18 million to US$25 million. The other necessary ingredient for reopening is security; there is little in Liberia today. Alumni in the United States sent a container filled with teaching supplies last month. All were looted in Monrovia’s port.

The New York Times
Sept. 1, 2003


NUC Releases 2003 University Rankings

The National Universities Commission (NUC) has released its second list of university rankings, following up on its rankings from last year. The criteria used for the assessment exercise include: academic content, philosophy and objectives of programs, academic regulation of students’ work, quality of academic and non-academic personnel and physical facilities. The universities were grouped as first- and second-generation and state-owned universities.

In agriculture, the University of Maiduguri came first, followed by the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta and Federal University of Technology, Yola. In education, the University of Benin came first, followed by Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye and the University of Ado-Ekiti. In engineering, the University of Benin again ranked first, followed by Bayero University, Kano and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi. In law, the University of Lagos topped the rankings, followed by the University of Nigeria Nsukka and the University of Maiduguri. In health sciences, the University of Port Harcourt topped the rankings, while the University of Jos topped the pharmacy and natural science rankings. The University of Lagos topped the rankings for social sciences. In the overall ranking of first-generation universities, the University of Lagos topped the list, while the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and the University of Benin came in second and third, respectively. The University of Port Harcourt topped the rankings for second-generation universities, while Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho topped the rankings for state universities.

Of the 185 programs previously denied accreditation from the first round of assessments, 19.4 gained full accreditation, 71 percent gained interim status and 9.7 remained unaccredited.

Daily Trust
Aug. 5, 2003

WAEC Issues Photo-Embossed Certificates

The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) has launched its latest anti-forgery initiative by introducing certificates embossed with the candidates’ photograph. The photograph makes the frequently forged WAEC certificates much more difficult to duplicate and allows institutions of higher education and employers a greater deal of certainty that credentials presented to them are earned and genuine.

The effort, according to WAEC, is being done to check the growing rate of certificate racketeering and forgery, which has characterized Nigeria’s educational system over the past 20 years. Coming on the heels of the recently launched WAEC Internet connectivity project WAECDIRECT (see March/April issue WENR), the latest move shows a commitment to restoring credibility to WAEC credentials. Some of the features on the new embossed certificates include gender identification, date of birth, the coat of arms of the WAEC member-country, a watermark of the WAEC logo and the candidate’s photograph.

P.M. News
Aug. 19, 2003


New Admissions Plan Far from Popular

Academics in South Africa have expressed their anger over a government plan, revealed in August, to centralize admissions for all the nation’s public colleges and universities.

The proposed plan recommends that, by 2007, all prospective undergraduates apply only to a new National Education Information and Application Service, rather than directly to the college of their choice. Since the plan has been made public, complaints have arisen that such an agency would threaten universities’ autonomy by handing admissions decisions over to the state. The ministry denies that such action is contemplated; rather, the idea of centralized admissions is modeled, in part, on existing agencies in Ireland, Kenya and Turkey.

The South African Universities Vice Chancellors Association has stated that it would support an agency that allowed each student to submit a single application for consideration by all of the country’s public institutions, as long as students also were able to apply directly to any single institution. The association said that it would be diametrically opposed to a second option that would see the agency making admissions decisions based on each institution’s criteria.

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Sept. 5, 2003

East Cape Merger Plans Under Review

The merger of the University of Transkei, Border Technikon and the Eastern Cape Technikon took another step towards meeting the January 2005 target date with the submission of a joint merger proposal to national Education Minister Kader Asmal in August.

The three institutions must now await the minister’s response to the merger plan. The name chosen for the new institution, although still under wraps, is said to be that of a deceased liberation struggle veteran.

East Cape News
Aug. 26, 2003

Northern Cape to Get Tertiary Institution

Northern Cape Premier Manne Dipico has welcomed the unveiling of the only tertiary institution in the province, saying it will go a long way in building intellectual capacity within civil society and business.

The yet-to-be-named institution is a result of the Ministry of Education’s restructuring of the higher-education institutional landscape, which aims for better efficiency and equality of access to education in post-apartheid South Africa. The institution will be a National institution for Higher Education, which is described as technikon and university hybrid. The restructuring and merger plans were approved at the end of 2002.

June 22, 2003

Technikon Label Thrown Out

Some of South Africa’s best-known tertiary institutions will be operating under new names next year, with the term technikon being dispatched to the garbage heap of history to join other relics of the apartheid era.

Education Minister Kader Asmal’s announcement in October that technikon will be abolished in favor of “universities of technology” is a sign of the radical shakeup that is taking place in South African higher education. The name change will give South Africa’s institutions a more universally recognizable name; technikon is a uniquely South African term that for 20 years had little recognition in other countries.

The new universities of technology will be separate from traditional universities and will retain their current focus. Certificate and diploma courses will continue to compose 70 percent of the programs, but there will also be a push for research programs, Asmal emphasized.

Business Day
Oct. 22, 2003

Names of Merging Institutions Announced

Education Minister Kader Asmal announced Oct. 21 the names of new institutions of higher education as the result of ongoing mergers. Restructuring South Africa’s tertiary education landscape (see WENR Nov./Dec. 2002) will take at least two years, and the process will begin in January next year, the minister added.

New names (as of Jan. 1, 2004):

• The Universities of Potchefstroom, North West and the Sebokeng campus of Vista University will be North West University.

Pretoria, Northern Gauteng and North West technikons will merge to become Tshwane University of Technology.

• The University of South Africa (Unisa) and Vista University Distance Education Campus will retain the name Unisa.

• Mamelodi campus of Vista University will be incorporated into the University of Pretoria.

• Welkom campus of Vista University will be incorporated into Technikon Free State. A name has not been chosen yet.

• The Port Elizabeth campus of Vista University will be incorporated into the University of Port Elizabeth.

• The East Rand and Soweto campuses of Vista University will be incorporated into Rand Afrikaans University.

• The dental faculty of University Stellenbosch will be incorporated into the University of the Western Cape.

• The East London campus of Rhodes University will be incorporated into the University of Fort Hare.

• The University of Natal will merge with the University of Durban-Westville. A name has not been chosen yet.

New names (as of Jan. 1, 2005):

• The University of Port Elizabeth and Port Elizabeth Technikon (including Port Elizabeth campus of Vista University) will be called Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

Cape Technikon and Peninsula Technikon will be called Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

Rand Afrikaans University and Technikon Witwatersrand (including the Soweto and East Rand campuses of Vista University) will become the University of Johannesburg.

University of Transkei, Border Technikon and Eastern Cape Technikon will be called Eastern Cape University of Technology.

Medical University of South Africa and the University of the North will be called the University of Limpopo.

Ministry of Education
Oct. 21, 2003


Kenya Blacklists Ugandan University

The Kenyan government has been advising students against attending Kampala International University (KIU), which it claims offers a “substandard education.”

Officials from KIU, which hosts over 1,500 Kenyan students, claim that they have resolved the issue with Kenyan officials; however, according to New Vision sources, the ministry denies the issue has been cleared up. Although no official reason has been given for the decision, sources within the ministry said NIU was “fake” and a danger to Kenyan students who may not get certificates commensurate with their standards. In August, the Kenyan government said it would not offer places in six public universities to over 40,000 students who had met entry requirements, leaving some parents with no option but to resort to more affordable Ugandan universities.

New Vision
Aug. 29, 2003

Northern Region Wins Battle for New University

The Ministry of Education unveiled an ambitious plan in July to create the first university in northern Uganda. Unlike most of the country’s institutions, though, Nile University will offer courses with an emphasis on practical skills and modern technology.

The university will help revive an area deprived of education for the past 30 years. The recently deceased, exiled leader Idi Amin closed many of the region’s schools during his brutal reign in the 1970s. Many of those who have now been through secondary school cannot afford, or are reluctant, to travel to universities in the capital, Kampala, or farther south. Students going into higher education in Uganda rely heavily on scholarships from business and missionary organizations, which still run many of the country’s secondary schools. The government offers only limited funding, and the application process for money is dogged with controversy.

Nile University will be built near the town of Aura and enrolled its first intake of 60 students to its temporary campus at the end of August. It is hoped that enrollment numbers will eventually swell to 10,000. Students will take a foundation year in computer skills, English and mathematics before embarking on one of four three-year degrees in agriculture, computing, teacher training and business studies. New laws coming into force next year will tighten controls on the setting up of universities. All higher education institutions will need to be vetted by the government before they can call themselves universities. Nile University already has government approval.

The Guardian
Aug. 1, 2003


Strike On, Strike Off

A recent strike, which is one of a series by academic and non-academic staff at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), seems to be symptomatic of the current state of the tertiary education sector in Zimbabwe. It comes just a few months after the last strike in April (see May/June issue WENR) over the same issue of remuneration. Lecturers have had to withhold the processing of examination marks for university students this year, which has led to the failure of thousands of students to graduate.

At the UZ medical school, the number of incoming students for the new academic year has been drastically reduced due to an exodus of lecturers. Sources at the medical school say that 15 lecturers have resigned since last year, leaving the institution with five lecturers. UZ does not seem to be the only university facing such problems, as even private universities have been affected by the shortage of lecturers.

Although the strike was called off on Sept. 12, the situation is unlikely to improve as inflation hits 500 percent and the country is, both economically and socially, in a serious downward spiral. Unfortunately, anecdotal evidence suggests that many lecturers have left the country for better-paying jobs overseas, and it seems that it will take more than fair wages to solve the problems in higher education that have such serious consequences for Zimbabwe’s future.

All Africa
Sept. 1-15, 2003

Crises Slam Education

Once hailed as the pride of Africa, Zimbabwe’s education system has been engulfed by the country’s political and economic crises. The University of Zimbabwe, once the pinnacle of the system, is now finding it almost impossible to keep functioning, as teachers have been beaten, forced to attend “re-education camps” and killed, according to union officials. This is a far cry from 1980, when President Robert Mugabe’s government made education its first priority. Primary and secondary education was virtually free and within the reach of almost everyone. The country achieved impressive literacy rates of more than 90 percent, making Zimbabwe’s education system one of the most effective in the developing world.

But the system has suffered 10 years of decline, and since 2000 has been one of the main victims of the country’s economic chaos and political repression. Speaking at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies earlier this year, Chairman of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Brian Raftopoulos said, “Problems [in the education sphere] have centered around: the ‘disciplining’ of teachers for their support of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change; the militarization of youth centers; the struggle by teachers for better conditions of service in a rapidly declining economy; and struggles over curriculum, in particular the teaching of history.”

The increasing percentage of children staying out of school due to tuition costs and the harassment, detention, arrests, torture and the unprecedented unleashing of state security agents on the schools illustrate how deeply the ongoing political and economic turmoil has reached into all sectors of the country. Yet, Raftopoulos and other education specialists believe the country’s schools can rebound if Zimbabwe can negotiate a process of transition that will lead to a fresh round of fair and free elections.

The Teacher
Sept. 8, 2003


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