Commonwealth fails to lure scholars

June 28, 1996

The Commission on Commonwealth Studies has called for universities in the Commonwealth to work together to help address the "truly appalling" lack of awareness and understanding of the grouping.

The final report of the commission was launched in London yesterday by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku.

He said it was up to governments and the academic community to seize on the recommendations and foster an environment where Commonwealth studies could flourish.

The nine-member commission, which is chaired by Thomas Symons of Trent University in Canada, was appointed in June last year to assess Commonwealth studies in higher education around the Commonwealth.

The report states that the value of comparative studies in a Commonwealth context has not been fully recognised and, considering the practical and academic value of Commonwealth studies, too little is being done.

"It is indeed ironic that the academic legitimacy and importance of Commonwealth studies has often been better understood in countries outside the Commonwealth than at universities in its member states," it said.

The commission found no complete undergraduate degree courses in Commonwealth studies in member nations' universities and only a small number of coursework masters programmes.

But many offer postgraduate research degrees in some area of Commonwealth studies and there is a considerable amount of work of varying relevance being undertaken by research students.

A key recommendation is that governments and the academic community should consider establishing centres for the study of certain areas of contemporary concern and link these into a network.

Universities that have special expertise are urged to create centres of specialisation in aspects of Commonwealth studies, and expand twinning and exchange arrangements.

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