- University World News
Using intellectual property to actualise universities’ potential (Africa)
Four African universities are among five institutions that have been picked to participate in a continental intellectual property (IP) pilot project, aimed at helping public teaching and research organisations build capacity for developing and implementing institutional IP policy and strategy. The project is being implemented by global IP organisation the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in collaboration with two continental bodies, one Anglophone, the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), and the other Francophone, the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI). The universities include Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Zimbabwe’s Africa University, the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Windhoek, and Ghana’s Koforidua Technical University (KTU). Also taking part in the initiative is Uganda’s National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), the only non-higher education institution in the group. The project is financed by WIPO, with support from the Japan Patent Office under the Japan Funds-in-Trust for Africa and Least Developed Countries. The institutions were picked in a competitive process that commenced in 2017, according to ARIPO Director General Fernando Dos Santos. “In 2017 ARIPO and WIPO agreed to work together on a joint project aimed at helping universities and research and development institutions to adopt accurate IP policies,” said Dos Santos. The project will be carried out in different phases that will involve assisting the five institutions in formulating or fine-tuning their existing individual IP policies using guidelines developed by the collaborators, he told University World News – Africa.
The call for expression of interest document seen by University World News states that the goal of the initiative is to promote development of IP policies in R&D institutions, in order to stimulate local innovation and technology transfer in Africa for socio-economic growth. “The underlying idea is that universities and R&D institutions play a key role in innovation through their contribution to the production and diffusion of knowledge. However, the question as to whether universities are using the IP to benefit from products of their research and innovation or to contribute to economic development arises,” Dos Santos said. Many universities, he said, lacked clear IP policies that would help define issues such as who owns what in a research project as well as knowledge on what can or cannot be commercialised.
There was a need, therefore, to help them adopt IP policies that will enable them to use the IP system efficiently, and reap benefits from their research and innovation.
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- University World News
Curriculum change – A solution to graduate unemployment (Nigeria)
Announcing a review of university curricula aimed at addressing graduate employability in Nigeria, Professor Abubakar Rasheed, executive secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), said last month the government was concerned about complaints by industry employers that the country’s graduates were “unemployable”. How did the country reach this point? According to Dr Toyin Enikuomehin, a lecturer in artificial intelligence in the computer science department of Lagos State University, the problem has its roots in outdated curricula and a system slow to transform. “The current university syllabus has its origin in the 18th century industrial revolution propelled by the emergence of general sciences and electricity from coal. Globally, these tendencies were faithfully adhered to in the 20th century. The recent advent of alternative sources of energy, especially from the sun and the wind, coupled with electronically-propelled communication technology, has compelled universities to gradually see the need to adapt their curricula to the needs of industries”. Enikuomehin said while universities in advanced industrialised countries quickly adjusted their curricula and continued to get grants and financial support from industry for their research, tertiary institutions in underdeveloped countries, including Nigeria, still cling to the old curricula. “It is now that the NUC is realising the imperative to innovate and adapt university programmes to satisfy the demands of industries and other stakeholders,” he said. “With the current outdated curricula, our universities would continue to churn out unemployable graduates.” An in-depth feature on graduate unemployment in Nigeria was published in the Daily Trust newspaper last year following a study conducted by a group of journalists involving several months of field investigations on the subject. Illustrating the scale of the problem, the study said: “Ongoing recruitment by the Federal Road Service Commission shows up the scale of unemployment in Nigeria. The commission has 4,000 job slots to fill. Some 324,000 shortlisted applicants showed up for recruitment, 105,000 of them graduates, scampering for positions as inspectors and road marshal assistants.” According to one of the study’s journalists, Maureen Onochie, the graduate applicants were of diverse academic orientations. “Most of them did not study transport as an academic discipline … I found that the majority of candidates were desperately in search of jobs with a view to taking care of themselves and members of their extended families,” she said. Another study by Dr Longe Olukayode from the department of sociology at Ekiti State University, which was published in the American International Journal of Contemporary Research in 2017, noted that “the nation cannot reasonably achieve her developmental aspirations if she cannot effectively put to productive use a large number of her graduates”.
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- Daily Monitor
Revenue authority to collect tuition for state universities (Uganda)
The Ministry of Finance has directed Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to start collecting tuition for all government universities across the country in a bid to curb fraud. Mr Jim Mugunga, the ministry’s spokesperson, yesterday confirmed that the new system is intended to establish how many students each university has and how much money they collect each academic year. He said the ministry realised that some tuition revenue in some public universities is abused and decided on collecting the fees using a single account by URA to minimise misuse. “We realised that there was abuse of funds in our institutions of learning because some of the tuition is being collected but not used. Some tuition is stolen while some money just disappears. So, let URA collect this money, let this money come as government revenue and let it be budgeted for and appropriated,” Mr Mugunga told Daily Monitor by telephone yesterday. It is not clear how the initiative will be implemented since institutions have varying fees structure and functional fees. He also said the new move will check the problem of ghost students, bureaucracy and costs in public universities. “The current system is bureaucratic and keeps government unaware of tuition as a revenue that flows into the institutions. It also complicates the accountability process and duplicates bank costs of running related accounts. “Once we get to know how much each institution is collecting, we shall facilitate timely release of money back to the universities to take care of students, staff and institutional support,” he said. Mr Mugunga said the strategy will also streamline accountability, remove duplicity and minimise costs that have impeded revenue mobilisation. “Tuition is actually government revenue and not money that belongs to universities. Historically, when revenue collection was not streamlined, the ministry had allowed institutions to collect on its behalf as we built internal capacities and get most institutions networked and strengthened. URA is, therefore, ready and the most suitable agency to handle this task,” he said. The move comes a few days after Makerere University management officials appeared before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament and were probed on why they failed to collect tuition fees from more than 80 students many of whom had already graduated and rent from several tenants in the university premises. The officials led by the university secretary, Mr Charles Barugahare, were giving responses to queries raised in the 2017/18 Auditor General’s report. Key among the queries was that the university management did not collect Shs148.9m from 81 students who sat exams in 2017. Mr John Muwanga, the Auditor General, also added in his report that 32 of the students appeared on the graduation list of January 2018 yet they had not cleared their tuition arrears of Shs65.2m. The Makerere Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, said if URA takes over the tuition fees collection, it will be a big relief to the university. He, however, questioned how URA will manage the fees defaulters.
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- RUFORUM Blog
His Excellency George Manneh Weah the President of the Republic of Liberia Meets RUFORUM Delegation in Monrovia (Liberia)
Monrovia 25 April 2019 A delegation from the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) has today paid a courtesy call to His Excellency George Manneh Weah the President of the Republic of Liberia at his Capitol Hill residence in Monrovia. This meeting comes ahead of the preparations for a symposium on higher education in Liberia scheduled to take place on 26th April 2019 Organised in partnership with the University of Liberia with focus on Promoting Higher Education in Liberia. While responding to the delegation, President George M. Weah applauded RUFORUM for being a Pan-African organisation that is working tirelessly to solve African challenges such as food and nutritional Security through investment in higher education, research and Innovation in Africa. He pledged his support to initiatives that support the education of youth in Liberia. He acknowledged the value of formal education in transforming economies and said it was the reason he went back to study despite being a professional footballer with international accolade.“After 18 years of playing football professionally, I went back to school. Not to prove anything, but to prepare myself for the future”. President George M. WeahSince 2018, as part of aligning operations for delivery of the Vision 2030 to create a Pan African Network, RUFORUM strategically intensified on advocacy with African Governments to support its initiatives with the member universities in the 37 countries in Africa. The Liberia meeting is part of the move by RUFOURM to anchor the West African outreach. The delegation led by Prof. Adipala Ekwamu, the Executive Secretary, congratulated the President for his election as the Head of State of the Republic of Liberia and for particularly maintaining and strengthening good governance and institutional processes in Liberia while focusing on strengthening agriculture and promoting Science, Technology and Innovation for economic development in Liberia. He commended His Excellency President Weah for the Government’s effort to re-build Liberia human capital base and efforts to strengthen Higher Education in Liberia as a fulcrum for economic development of the country. Professor Adipala thanked the Ministry of Education and the President of University of Liberia for organizing a Liberia Higher Education Day to galvanise support and action for the development of the Higher Education Sector in Liberia. The RUFORUM delegation included Vice Chancellors from 10 Universities in Africa and RUFORUM Secretariat staff.
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- Front Page Africa
University of Liberia Hosts 23 African Heads of Universities in Monrovia (Liberia)
Twenty-three African universities’ heads are presently in the country holding meetings with Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks, President of the University of Liberia and heads of other higher learning institutions on ways at improving higher education in Liberia. This one-day event, which is a side meeting of the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) Board Meetings also taking place in Monrovia, will be a national symposium on higher education and will be jointly hosted by the University of Liberia, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Agriculture, the National Commission on Higher Education and the RUFORUM Secretariat. Dr. Weeks is hosting her colleagues from 12 countries on the continent. The 23 presidents/vice-chancellors, principals and deans are from highly ranked African universities that are offering academic programs in agriculture, engineering, science and technology. They are in to Liberia to attend their 18th Executive Board Meetings. The Meetings, which are expected to be held from April 24th to 26th in Monrovia has gathered delegates from Benin, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda and Zambia. Speaking Wednesday, April 24, at the formal opening of the Meetings, Dr. Weeks, who is the Deputy Chair of the RUFORUM Executive Board, welcomed her guests and gave some historical perspectives of the continental body. “We are glad that Liberia is hosting these distinguished individuals, who are heads of universities to be here and to network, to interact with Liberian heads of universities and government officials to talk about the need to work together to build capacity as a team. Nobody knows what is better for Africa than ourselves,” Dr. Weeks stated. She also used the occasion to speak about opportunities the organization provides for its members. Dr. Weeks disclosed that eight UL faculty members are presently doing their PhD as a result of UL’s affiliation with RUFORUM. “Governments can’t do what needs to be done alone so partners need to help government meet the needs of its citizens,” she added.
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- The New Dawn Liberia
RUFORUM targets Liberian universities in network (Liberia)
Africa’s higher education group Regional Universities Forum (RUFORUM) for Capacity Building in Agriculture is in Monrovia seeking to expand its network across Liberian universities to collaborate and support human capital development. The organization has expanded it is network to 105 universities across Africa, and state – run University of Liberia (UL) joined the group in 2017. A delegation of university leaders from other African countries are here in Monrovia for a symposium that seeks to make sure that the universities are working together to support the development agenda of the continent. A symposium is being held under the theme: “Promoting Higher Education in Liberia,” in an effort to push for collaboration among universities here to support human capital development and to develop a new generation of scholars who love and believe in the African continent. Opening the forum Wednesday, 24 April at the Boulevard Palace in Sinkor, the host, UL president and deputy chair Dr. Ophelia Weeks explains that the forum is an opportunity to engage other universities here to become a part of RUFORUM to interact with leaders of other universities across Africa. According to Dr. Weeks, the forum is here to network, interact with heads of universities and government officials to talk about the need to work together to build capacity as a team. She recalls that the RUFORUM came into existence since 2004, but UL joined it in 2017.
The UL president continues that RUFORUM seeks to build capacity in agriculture across Africa, and it has since developed into 105 universities across Africa over the years.
- University World News
What makes a university a ‘global university’? (Global)
Education for global citizenship has become a popular concept worldwide. In 1996, the OECD promoted the internationalisation of curricula for professional and social engagement in a multicultural and globally minded society. Ten years later, UNESCO announced that the public good and social responsibility were central to the purpose of 21st century universities. The International Association of Universities confirmed the need to improve the preparation of university students as national and global citizens. The UN Secretary General stated in 2012 that education must fully assume its essential role of helping people to forge more just, peaceful and tolerant societies. As a result of this trend towards global citizenship education, there are currently many examples of good practice worldwide, including the Council for Global Citizenship Education in India; the High Resolves secondary schools initiative in Australia; the Developing the Global Dimension in the School Curriculum report published by the Department for Education and Skills in England; the Activate Network for young people in South Africa; and Peace First, an NGO based in the United States and Colombia. At the higher education level, universities need to ask what being either global or international might actually mean in terms of their curricula. On the one hand, being international means being able to incorporate international and linguistic diversity dimensions into the curriculum as well as teaching and learning processes and support services. On the other hand, being global in curriculum terms is a broader ambition since it should enable students to gain a better understanding of the world in which they live so that they are able to create something better and more peaceful through intercultural understanding and respect, and so that they can think of the world as being just one nation rather than many different nations.
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- World University News
West Africa to host ‘powerful’ RUFORUM meeting (RUFORUM)
The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) has picked the University of Cape Coast in Ghana to be the host for its 15th Annual General Meeting (AGM) which takes place from 2-6 December this year. “RUFORUM’s gatherings are among the most powerful platforms in the continent, addressing one of the most significant issues affecting the continental growth – poverty and hunger”, said Dr Francis Otto, manager of the organisation’s Knowledge Hub. This year’s meeting will bring together more than 400 delegates including educationists, researchers, policy-makers and agriculture and education ministers among others. Deliberations will focus on how to actualise the African Universities’ Agenda for Higher Agricultural Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (AHESTI) plan. Otto said the choice of location for the meeting, the first to be held in a West African country, was the product of a strategic decision the forum made in 2014 to expand its geographical reach and bring on board universities in the French-speaking countries of Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Togo, Sierra Leone and Senegal. “It was a deliberate choice following a strategic decision for RUFORUM to reach all parts of Africa including West Africa,” said Otto. The choice of the University of Cape Coast as the host institution also recognises the fact that the Ghanaian university was one of the first three institutions from the region to become a member of RUFORUM in 2014, along with the University of Abomey-Calavi in Benin, and the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria. “After demonstrating its commitment as a full member since joining the network and showing a spirited interest backed by ability to host this AGM, it was only right that the opportunity to host be given to the University of Cape Coast,” he told University World News. Otto described RUFORUM as a pan-African organisation which was working on overcoming challenges such as language barriers on the continent. He said the body will take a multilingual approach in communications and operations, and at big gatherings such as the AGM. The forum currently uses at least four languages through “competent and professional interpreters” during AGMs and other major gatherings. Otto said the theme for this year’s AGM was chosen to align with RUFORUM’s Vision 2030, which seeks to create “vibrant, transformative universities to catalyse sustainable, inclusive agricultural development to feed and create prosperity for Africa”.
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- Lindau Nobel
Africa’s Next Generation – How to Support Africa’s Science Structures for Young Scientists (Africa)
While the situation greatly varies among African countries, the last decade has seen a considerable growth of scientific agencies, programmes, networks and conferences, and certainly an improvement of the situation. To no one’s surprise, South Africa is spearheading this development with its National Research Foundation, established almost 20 years ago. Current programmes such as the South African Research Chairs Initiative and the Centres of Excellence funding scheme contribute to keeping excellent scientists in Africa, says Roseanne Diab, Executive Officer of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf). But she also highlights various cross country-initiatives: “The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) is a pan-African network of centres of excellence for postgraduate education, research, and outreach in mathematical sciences established in 2003. This was followed more recently by the AIMS Next Einstein Initiative, the goal of which is to build fifteen centres of excellence across Africa by 2023.” Most progress has been made in the area of health; all the more important as a bad public health situation has countless negative effects on people, economies and countries – and on science. […] Yet, only 1% of global investment in R&D is spent in Africa, and the continent holds a tiny 0.1% share of the world’s patents, as ASSAf’s liaison officer Edith Shikumo points out. But money doesn’t seem to make up the top priority on younger scientists’ list of concerns. “I don’t want to mention the usual obstacles like lack of proper infrastructure and expensive equipment; I would rather focus on the lack of tolerance for new and innovative ideas, the fear associated to out-of-the-box thinking and the tendency to avoid risk accompanying entrepreneurship are the main obstacles for a thriving science and research culture,” says Ghada Bassioni, guest professor at the Technical University of Munich and coordinator of Egypt-Germany collaboration, with the Science and Technology Development Fund of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Egypt – and Lindau Alumna.
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