Africa is becoming a spinning up education market player. During the last six month some major initiatives have taken place in Africa:
In the past six months, several important new developments have occurred concerning higher education in Africa.
- In January, IFC, a member of the World Bank, invested US$150 million in the private for-profit Laureate group to develop activities in Latin America and the Middle East and North Africa. The first publicised use of this cash was to take a significant stake (ultimately up to 50%) in a joint venture with Monash University in relation to their successful campus in South Africa.
- The World Bank will soon select around eight centres of excellence among African universities, each receiving US$8 million to strengthen its research and develop new programmes.
- Lancaster University has announced the opening of a campus in Accra, Ghana, with currently 58 students.
- CEIBIS (the China Europe International Business School), one of the best business schools in the world, jointly created by the European Union and China and based in Shanghai, has been offering an executive MBA in Accra for the past few years.
- Webster University announced the opening of its first campus in Africa – again, in Ghana.
- Limkokwing University, a prominent private Malaysian university, now has campuses in Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland.
- India has invested in the Pan-African e-Network Project to develop higher education links with several African countries.
- Mauritius is working with other African countries to position itself as a hub in the region, at least for East Africa.
All the above-mentioned suggests that Africa could be seen as the next frontier for internationalisation and may follow the same pathway as Asia establishing various dual degreeand exchangeprogrammes. Such countries as France for instance may take advantage of language issues to increase their numbers of international students and open branch campuses.
It is astonishing that most of these initiatives come from institutions that would not invest if there were not a rather clear prospect of a return on their investments. Laureate or Limkokwing are private companies, which need to make a profit to survive and grow. This may be considered a signal that other universities may also consider increasing their profits by opening a campus in Africa.
Africa will enjoy a growing 18- to 22-year-old population for the next 10 years, with Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya and Angola among the top 10 in the world in absolute numbers. Several countries also have a projected gross domestic product growth above 5% a year for the next 10 years, including Nigeria, Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana and Kenya.
Naturally along with this the number of students pursuing higher education and also those sent abroad to study will dramatically increase. Furthermore, based on past trends, countries that are net exporters of students for higher education are good candidates for the opening of a branch campus. This was and is the case for Singapore, Malaysia and China, and would be for India and Indonesia if the legislations were more welcoming to transnational education. So it could be the case in Africa for Nigeria, Kenya, Angola and Ethiopia. Of course, several of these countries are considered difficult for business, including for basic security reasons and due to general political instability.
Historically it may be observed that gradually foreign universities ventured into neighbouring countries. In most cases, this started with pathway or twinning programmes, before moving to the opening of full branch campuses. That is why Ghana, despite its relative ‘small size’, now sees several interesting initiatives hoping to attract students from Nigeria. Similarly, Mauritius would be a good candidate to become a hub for East Africa; and, as it is one of the few bilingual countries in the region, it could also cater for countries in West Africa where French is more dominant than English – 21 African countries, representing 360 million people, have French as one of their official languages.
While in South East Asia, India or the Middle East UK education still remains the number one option,in Africa French business and engineering schools would probably have much more chances to attract students and enjoy high level of popularity. Right now it is still difficult to predict if the current initiatives are forerunners of a larger trend over the next 10 to 15 years and if these initiatives will be mainly ‘North-South’ as was the case in Asia, or also ‘South-South’ as exemplified by the initiatives from China, India and Malaysia.
HE institutions worldwide should surely take into account certain benefits of opening a branch campus in Africa and adjusting to the changing 21st century education trends.
UNIVERSITY WORLD NEWS
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