The African Virtual University is to expand its operations and offer places to students in 22 of the continent's countries, as part of a four-year partnership with RMIT University in Melbourne.
Students at the Nairobi-based online university take courses using satellite links for online tutorials and CD-Roms and DVDs. They work through the course materials, with the help of local teachers at partner institutes. RMIT staff act as mentors for these teachers.
The expanded programme is expected to result in an additional 800 enrolments next year.
Since the online university was conceived in 1997, 31 learning centres have been established at partner universities in 17 African countries. Last year, 23,000 Africans were being trained in courses such as journalism, languages and accounting.
Kuzvinetsa Peter Dzvimbo, AVU rector, said the goal for the next five years was to expand the network to 150 learning centres in 50 countries. The university hopes to have four-year degree courses in computer science and busi-ness studies available in 2004.
Madeleine Reeve, RMIT pro vice-chancellor for international enterprise, said: "RMIT is proud to be a part of this landmark partnership programme."
AVU has signed a A$5 million (£2 million) agreement with the Australian government to offer business studies from a centre at the Addis Ababa University. The course will later be extended to the other AVU institutions.
The Curtin University of Technology in Western Australia will provide teaching skills and course materials to the Ethiopian University.