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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)

Going to University: The Influence of Higher Education on the Lives of Young South Africans

Around the world, more young people than ever before are attending university. Student numbers in South Africa have doubled since democracy and for many families, higher education is a route to a better future for their children. But alongside the overwhelming demand for higher education, questions about its purposes have intensified. Deliberations about the curriculum, culture and costing of public higher education abound from student activists, academics, parents, civil society and policy-makers.
We know, from macro research, that South African graduates generally have good employment prospects. But little is known at a detailed level about how young people actually make use of their university experiences to craft their life courses. And even less is known about what happens to those who drop out.
This accessible book brings together the rich life stories of 73 young people, six years after they began their university studies. It traces how going to university influences not only their employment options, but also nurtures the agency needed to chart their own way and to engage critically with the world around them.
The book offers deep insights into the ways in which public higher education is both a private and public good, and it provides significant conclusions pertinent to anyone who works in – and cares
about – universities.

Doctoral Education in South Africa

Worldwide, in Africa and in South Africa, the importance of the doctorate has increased disproportionately in relation to its share of the overall graduate output over the last decade. This heightened attention has not only been concerned with the traditional role of the PhD, namely the provision of a future supply of academics. Rather, it has focused on the increasingly important role that higher education – particularly high-level skills – is perceived to play in national development and the knowledge economy.

This book is unique in the area of research into doctoral studies because it draws on a large number of studies conducted by the Centre of Higher Education Trust (CHET) and the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST) over the past decade. In addition to these historical studies, new quantitative and qualitative research was undertaken to produce the evidence base for the anbalyses presented in the book. The studies focused on a range of issues related to the growth, efficiency, quality and transformation of doctoral education, doctoral supervision, doctoral tracer studies as well as drawing on studies from the rest of Africa and the world.

The book makes recommendations about strengthening traditional doctoral education, and proposes a paradigm shift. It concludes by raising three policy issues: reaching the National Development Plan 2030 target of 5 000 graduates per annum, South Africa as a PhD hub for Africa and differentiation among different groups of doctorate-producing institutions.

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.

Perspectives on Student Affairs

The goal of Perspectives on Student Affairs in South Africa is to generate interest in student affairs in South Africa. The papers contained herein are based on best practice, local experience and well-researched international and local theories.

The papers in this book deal with matters pertaining to international and national trends in student affairs: academic development, access and retention, counselling, and material support for students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. They are linked to national and international developments, as described in the first two papers.

This publication will assist both young and experienced practitioners as they grow into their task of developing the students entrusted to them.

All contributors are South Africans with a great deal of experience in student affairs, and all are committed to the advancement of student affairs in South Africa. The editors are former heads of student affairs portfolios at two leading South African universities.

Seeking Impact and Visibility: Scholarly Communication in Southern Africa

African scholarly research is relatively invisible globally because even though research production on the continent is growing in absolute terms, it is falling in comparative terms. In addition, traditional metrics of visibility, such as the Impact Factor, fail to make legible all African scholarly production. Many African universities also do not take a strategic approach to scholarly communication to broaden the reach of their scholars’ work.

To address this challenge, the Scholarly Communication in Africa Programme (SCAP) was established to help raise the visibility of African scholarship by mapping current research and communication practices in Southern African universities and by recommending and piloting technical and administrative innovations based on open access dissemination principles. To do this, SCAP conducted extensive research in four faculties at the Universities of Botswana, Cape Town, Mauritius and Namibia. SCAP found that scholars:

o carry heavy teaching and administrative loads which hinder their research productivity• remain unconvinced by open access dissemination

o find it easier to collaborate with scholars in the global North than in the rest of Africa

o rarely communicate their research with government

o engage in small, locally-based research projects that are either unfunded or funded by their universities

o produce outputs that are often interpretive, derivative or applied due, in part, to institutional rewards structures and funding challenges

o do not utilise social media technologies to disseminate their work or seek new collaborative opportunities.

All of these factors impact Africa’s research in/visibility at a time when scholarly communication is going through dramatic technical,legal, social and ethical changes.

Seeking Impact and Visibility shares the results of SCAP’s research and advocacy efforts. It not only analyses these four universities’ scholarly communication ecosystems, but illuminates the opportunities available for raising the visibility of their scholarship. It concludes with a series of recommendations that would enhance the communicative and developmental potential of African research.

This study will be of interest for scholars of African higher education,academically-linked civil society organisations, educationally affiliated government personnel and university researchers and managers.