In this week’s University World News 24 Sep 20 Goolam Mohamedbhai (right) describes an interesting comparison between Indian and African Higher Education.  Both the similarities and the differences are marked:


India’s new National Education Policy (NEP 2020) focuses on:

  • Splitting the Higher Education sector into research intensive institutions, teaching intensive institutions, and degree granting colleges, arguing that a single institution will find it difficult to achieve excellence in all 3 disciplines.

  • Vocational education, which can be integrated into traditional Higher Education at various stages (ie a student can move from vocational training into a degree earning course at a point largely of their own choosing).

  • Multiple exit and re-entry degrees (a certificate after one year, a diploma after 2 years, and a degree after 3 years, and the years of study do not have to run sequentially).

  • An Academic Bank of Credit, whereby qualifications can be transferred between seats of learning and geographic regions.

There is much about the NEP which could be relevant to Africa as a whole, particularly with the African Union Academic Credit Transfer System, which aims to allow qualification transfer between all African nations.  This initiative could be key to harnessing Africa’s intellectual potential in the next 50 years.

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 Of course there are serious logistic issues to be overcome for Higher Education in the African continent; namely reliable power, internet access, widely available devices such as smartphones and affordable data.  Released on 16 September 2020, the eLearning Africa and EdTech Hub survey entitled “The Effect of COVID 19 on Education in Africa and Its Implications for the Use of Technology” highlights all these issues, plus the disparity between richer and poorer areas, the lack of training for teachers in using IT learning, and that internet penetration is only 34% across the continent.

And yet COVID is now seen as having given African Higher Education a “turbo-boost”, as it has compelled administrators to think differently about how and what Higher Education Institutions teach.  If the continent can join up and think as a whole about the eleven major areas of planning for Higher Education, they will be better placed to cater for the expected doubling of the population (and therefore of potential student numbers) by 2050 (Economist Mar 2020).  The eleven major planning areas are:

  • Understanding the HE Environment.

  • Learning from COVID 19.

  • Validating your mission and vision.

  • Understanding the Money.

  • Internationalisation.

  • Student recruitment and retention.

  • Teaching priorities and teaching methods.

  • Cyber Security.

  • Risk; opportunities and threats.

  • Forward planning and horizon-scanning.

  • Staying resilient.[1]

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Morocco, bridging as it does the African, European and Arab worlds, could well play a leading role in the vision of high-quality pan African Higher Education.  Out of all universities within the Arab world (ie from countries which are members of the Arab League) in 2020, the Times Higher Education ranks Morocco’s Sidi Ben Abdellah University 20th, Mohammed V University of Rabat 41st, University of Marrakech 45th, Universite Hassan 2 de Casablanca =48th and Ibn Tofail University 56th – an impressive record.

So what?

The forecast population growth in Africa will present opportunities and challenges in equal measure.  As any business continuity consultant will tell you, being ready to exploit the opportunities and negotiate the challenges is one of the keys to long-term success.  With the population not only growing fast, but also getting younger, Africa has an opportunity to exploit this human intellectual capital by providing modern, joined-up, continent-wide Higher Education fit for the 21st century.


[1] Inverroy Crisis Management continues to study all these areas in depth, and information/analysis is available to individual clients.

Related Information:

Toby’s blog about the changing resilience picture in Africa (click here) may be of interest. However, if the wider subject of Higher Education is more appealing then Toby has also delivered a number of webinars aimed at helping HE institutions come out of COVID better than they went in. The first in that series is available on the Inverroy YouTube channel here.


Toby - Head and Shoulders Image.jpg


Senior Consultant,

Sector Lead for Africa, Higher Education, and Academia & Heritage.

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