Initiating University Reform: Experience from Sub-Saharan Africa.
Saint, William S.
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The rapid numerical growth of African universities has prompted little evolution in institutional forms. Some universities may embrace a specialized disciplinary focus such as agriculture, education or science and technology, but in structure and process they remain remarkably similar. Little institutional differentiation has occurred within higher education systems, and legacies from the pre-independence era still shape the form and substance of African universities in important ways. These include the high cost model of publicly funded residential instruction, strong curricular emphasis on the humanities and social sciences, and an elitist orientation. As a result, these systems have been hard pressed to meet the rapidly rising social demand for access to university education in a context of significant economic, political and technological change. The challenge is daunting, but African governments and their universities have begun to respond. What lessons can be learned from this emerging experience? The following discussion draws upon current examples of promising practice to suggest options for African governments, universities and donors to consider in their efforts to foster higher education reform.