World Education News and Reviews

February 2012

Regional News

Africa

Algeria

Reforms Aim at Raising University Standards

The Algerian government is planning on spending US$1.48 billion on higher education and science over the next five years and to double research spending to 1 percent of gross domestic product as it seeks to raise university standards. In a recent speech, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Dr Rachid Harroubia said the state currently spends approximately DZD20 billion (US$262 million) a year on the higher education sector.

The government increased academics’ wages by 50 percent early in 2011 to encourage them to stay and teach and conduct research in Algeria rather than emigrating abroad. The number of research scientists is to be increased from 21,000 to 28,000 and the number of laboratories to 1,200, with help from the European Union Council of Ministers. Under a December 2011 agreement, European universities will work collaboratively with their Algerian counterparts. In addition, EU political institutions will help manage research projects in Algeria and support the setting up of an information system on research.

Degree structures and curricula have also been reformed. In the 2010-11 academic year, 354 new professionally oriented bachelor degree programs were added across the system, in addition to 126 new masters programs. These new degree programs are being introduced under a new degree structure, known in French as LMD (licence-master-doctorate), that has been introduced by the government to align the Algerian education system more closely with Europe, which has been reforming its structures over the last decade under the Bologna process.

- University World News
February 19, 2012

Kenya

Government Tightens Rules on Unlicensed Colleges, 21 Charged

The Kenyan government recently released new rules governing quality standards at institutions of higher education, putting more than 200 institutions on notice in the process and charging 21 operators with criminal charges. A further 63 colleges were closed over the past year.

Most of the unregistered colleges are technical, industrial, vocational and entrepreneurship training (TIVET) colleges, a sector that is key in helping the country absorb the ever-increasing number of secondary school graduates looking for tertiary education, but failing to meet university standards.

Statistics released by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology in January show that there are currently 467 fully registered TIVET institutions and a further 283 operating under provisional licenses, meaning they have yet to meet the criteria for being accredited. As a result of threat of closure, 68 institutions have made formal applications.

Kenya is this year spending at least US$56 million in donor funding on building and expanding TIVET institutions. In addition, a new curriculum for TIVETs is currently being drafted as the country seeks to better equip students with industry-ready skills.

- University World News
January 19, 2012

University Ranking System Floated

Kenya plans to start ranking its universities based on their performance and the quality of graduates they are producing, to raise their profile globally. The move, which is slated to begin in April, is aimed at improving quality standards in the nation’s institutions of higher education.

Higher Education Permanent Secretary Professor Crispus Kiamba believes the move will not only stoke competition among universities but will also help market Kenyan institutions globally to attract foreign students.

- University World News
February 19, 2012

Nigeria

Two-Month Strike Ends with Government Concessions

The Nigerian government promised to implement a 2009 agreement signed with staff unions and in doing so ended an eight-week faculty strike in late January. The agreement finalizes issues surrounding the faculty retirement age and reviewing issues related to the academic pension scheme.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities declared a total and indefinite strike across the nation starting from December 4, 2011 over non-implementation of an agreement reached between the Union and Federal Government in 2009 on the need for increased funding, more autonomy for the universities and an increase in the retirement age of lecturers from 60 to 70 years.

- The News
February 1, 2012

Government Stops University from Offering Diploma Programs

The Nigerian government has said it will stop universities in the country from offering National Diploma programs, urging them to adhere strictly to their approved mandates of awarding degrees and higher degrees.

Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Rufa’i, said in February that “universities must focus on their approved mandates of awarding degrees and higher degrees while they leave the award of NCE, National Diploma and Higher National Diploma to the polytechnics and colleges of education.

“Some universities have also veered into areas that are clearly outside their competence. It is foolhardy for a University of Agriculture to float programs in Law and Management Studies. NUC has been directed to invoke its statutory powers to ensure compliance.”

- Nigerian Tribune
February 13, 2012

Senegal

Ongoing Strikes Cause Concern Over Viability of Academic Year

Lecturers at universities in Senegal have been observing 72-hour strikes since early December, and with no end in sight many fear that the academic year is under serious threat. By the end of January, five weeks of the 25 that make up the academic year had already been lost.

Lecturers are insisting that the government meet demands contained in a 17-point plan, including compliance with agreements reached in 2002 and 2005; reform of lecturer grades; an increase in university budgets; and the readjustment of housing allowances. On 21 December, Senegal’s Independent Union of Teachers in Higher Education filed a strike notice to cover the whole of 2012.

Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade has come out in favor of the Union, but the crisis looks set to intensify, with the union calling for 72-hour strikes to be extended. There is now widespread concern that the situation could derail the academic year.

- University World News
February 2, 2012