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The Next Generation of Scientists

Young scientists are a powerful resource for change and sustainable development, as they drive innovation and knowledge creation. However, comparable findings on young scientists in various countries, especially in Africa and developing regions, are generally sparse. Therefore, empirical knowledge on the state of early-career scientists is critical in order to address current challenges faced by those scientists in Africa.

 

This book reports on the main findings of a three-and-a-half-year international project in order to assist its readers in better understanding the African research system in general, and more specifically its young scientists. The first part of the book provides background on the state of science in Africa, and bibliometric findings concerning Africa’s scientific production and networks, for the period 2005 to 2015. The second part of the book combines the findings of a large-scale, quantitative survey and more than 200 qualitative interviews to provide a detailed profile of young scientists and the barriers they face in terms of five aspects of their careers: research output; funding; mobility; collaboration; and mentoring. In each case, field and gender differences are also taken into account. The last part of the book comprises conclusions and recommendations to relevant policy- and decision-makers on desirable changes to current research systems in Africa.

Research Universities in Africa

From the early 2000s, a new discourse emerged, in Africa and the international donor community, that higher education was important for development in Africa. Within this ‘zeitgeist’ of converging interests, a range of agencies agreed that a different, collaborative approach to linking higher education to development was necessary. This led to the establishment of the Higher Education Research and Advocacy Network in Africa (Herana) to concentrate on research and advocacy about the possible role and contribution of universities to development in Africa.

 

This book is the final publication to emerge from the Herana project. The project has also published more than 100 articles, chapters, reports, manuals and datasets, and many presentations have been delivered to share insights gained from the work done by Herana. Given its prolific dissemination, it seems reasonable to ask whether this fourth and final publication will offer the reader anything new.

 

This book is certainly different from previous publications in several respects. First, it is the only book to include an analysis of eight African universities based on the full 15 years of empirical data collected by the project. Second, previous books and reports were published mid-project. This book has benefited from an extended gestation period allowing the authors and contributors to reflect on the project without the distractions associated with managing and participating in a large-scale project. For the first time, some of those who have been involved in Herana since its inception have had the opportunity to at least make an attempt to see part of the wood for the trees.

Different does not necessarily mean new. An emphasis on the ‘newness’ of the data and perspectives presented in this book is important because it shows that it is more than a historical record of a donor-funded project. Rather, each chapter in this book brings, to a lesser or greater extent, something new to our understanding of universities, research and development in Africa.

 

“This is an important book, synthesising 15 years of carefully gathered data and analysis, digging deep into the institutional lives of some of Africa’s best-known universities, and asking challenging questions about what it means to produce knowledge for society and whether these universities are really being enabled to do so. It offers a substantive guide to university leaders and planners, and by connecting empirical evidence to an examination of incentives, funding systems and policy prescriptions, it highlights the competing and contradictory pressures that many institutions and their staff face – and which must be urgently resolved if the potential of African higher education – for the world, not just the continent – is to be realised.”
– Jonathan Harle, Director of Programmes, INASP, Oxford

 

“The higher education landscape in Africa has changed considerably in the last two decades. Research universities are emerging as the more competitive of the universities in each country. Their effectiveness is driven by national and institutional cultures and the ability of leadership to manage change. This book documents, in a way no other book has done, the nature of the changes taking place in the region and the forces behind them. It is very analytical and it is very informative. Above all, it is comprehensive and essential reference material.”
– Ernest Aryeetey, former Vice-Chancellor, University of Ghana & Secretary-General, African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA)

 

“Research Universities in Africa is a welcome addition to the academic literature on African universities. This well-researched book which, in addition to the contribution of the main three authors, incorporates valuable inputs from a large number of researchers from sub-Saharan Africa and beyond, carefully analyses the challenges faced by African research universities through a skillful combination of theoretical pieces and case studies of eight universities. The book presents a balanced assessment of the role and potential contribution of research universities in the African context. The authors should be congratulated for this excellent contribution that can guide African universities all over the continent in thinking more strategically and achieving better results as they seek to develop their research capacity and increase the relevance of their research output.”
– Jamil Salmi, global tertiary education expert, former co-ordinator of tertiary education at the World Bank & Emeritus Professor of Higher Education Policy, Diego Portales University (Chile)

North-South Knowledge Networks: Towards Equitable Collaboration Between Academics, Donors and Universities

Since the 1990s, internationalisation has become key for institutions wishing to secure funding for higher education and research. For the academic community, this strategic shift has had many consequences. Priorities have changed and been influenced by new ways of thinking about universities, and of measuring their impact in relation to each other and to their social goals. Debates are ongoing and hotly contested.

In this collection, a mix of renowned academics and newer voices reflect on some of the realities of international research partnerships. They both question and highlight the agency of academics, donors and research institutions in the geopolitics of knowledge and power. The contributors offer fresh insights on institutional transformation, the setting of research agendas, and access to research funding, while highlighting the dilemmas researchers face when their institutions are vulnerable to state and donor influence.

Offering a range of perspectives on why academics should collaborate and what for, this book will be useful to anyone interested in how scholars are adapting to the realities of international networking and how research institutions are finding innovative ways to make North–South partnerships and collaborations increasingly fair, sustainable and mutually beneficial.

The Delusion of Knowledge Transfer: The impact of foreign aid experts on policy-making in South Africa and Tanzania

With the rise of the ‘knowledge for development’ paradigm, expert advice has become a prime instrument of foreign aid. At the same time, it has been object of repeated criticism: the chronic failure of ‘technical assistance’ – a notion under which advice is commonly subsumed – has been documented in a host of studies. Nonetheless, international organisations continue to send advisors, promising to increase the ‘effectiveness’ of expert support if their technocratic recommendations are taken up.

This book reveals fundamental problems of expert advice in the context of aid that concern issues of power and legitimacy rather than merely flaws of implementation. Based on empirical evidence from South Africa and Tanzania, the authors show that aid-related advisory processes are inevitably obstructed by colliding interests, political pressures and hierarchical relations that impede knowledge transfer and mutual learning. As a result, recipient governments find themselves caught in a perpetual cycle of dependency, continuously advised by experts who convey the shifting paradigms and agendas of their respective donor governments.

For young democracies, the persistent presence of external actors is hazardous: ultimately, it poses a threat to the legitimacy of their governments if their policy-making becomes more responsive to foreign demands than to the preferences and needs of their citizens.

Student Politics in Africa: Representation and Activism

The second volume of the African Higher Education Dynamics Series brings together the research of an international network of higher education scholars with interest in higher education and student politics in Africa. Most authors are early career academics who teach and conduct research in universities across the continent and came together for a research project, and related workshops and a symposium on student representation in African higher education governance.

The book includes theoretical chapters on student organising, student activism and representation; chapters on historical and current developments in student politics in Anglophone and Francophone Africa, and in-depth case studies on student representation and activism in a cross-section of universities and countries.

The book provides a unique resource for academics, university leaders and student affairs professionals as well as student leaders and policy-makers in Africa and elsewhere.

Knowledge for a Sustainable World

The search for answers to the issue of global sustainability has become increasingly urgent. In the context of higher education, many universities and academics are seeking new insights that can shift our dependence on ways of living that rely on the exploitation of so many and the degradation of so much of our planet.

This is the vision that drives SANORD and many of the researchers and institutions within its network. Although much of the research is on a relatively small scale, the vision is steadily gaining momentum, forging dynamic collaborations and pathways to new knowledge.

The contributors to this book cover a variety of subject areas and offer fresh insights about chronically under-researched parts of the world. Others document and critically reflect on innovative approaches to cross-continental teaching and research collaborations. This book will be of interest to anyone involved in the transformation of higher education or the practicalities of cross-continental and cross-disciplinary academic collaboration.

The Southern African-Nordic Centre (SANORD) is a network of higher education institutions from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Universities in the southern African and Nordic regions that are not yet members are encouraged to join.