G8 urged to back alliances

July 8, 2005

UK-Africa collaboration is breathing life into the continent. Olga Wojtas reports

G8 leaders are being challenged this week to revitalise African higher education via a ten-year programme drawn up by the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the Association of African Universities.

Universities UK has highlighted hundreds of links between UK and African academics that help put universities at the heart of African development.

Its survey lists more than 200 formal projects and collaborations with 134 African universities. Almost a third of projects are in medicine and health sciences.

Two thirds of projects are collaborative research and exchanges, including development and community work. A quarter are in capacity building, focusing on skills development.

Diana Warwick, UUK's chief executive, said: "This survey demonstrates UK universities' commitment to collaborating with Africa. We are confident this work will contribute to the university renewal programme and support changes to the sector in Africa."

Piyushi Kotecha, chief executive officer of the Southern Africa Regional Universities Association (Sarua), said: "The achievement of the African renaissance, at least as far as higher education is concerned, is a matter of joining the dots.

"By joining the dotsJwe can strategically link programmes across regions.

Sarua is built on four pillars - ICT preparedness and infrastructure, institutional governance and leadership; science and technology and HIV/Aids," she said.

As these links were strengthened they would make higher education institutions across the region more robust and better able to provide trained graduates, academic expertise, innovation and critical citizens - all the factors needed to drive socioeconomic development, Ms Kotecha said.

olga.wojtas@thes.co.uk

PERFECT PARTNERSHIPS

* The Malawian Millennium Project between Strathclyde and Malawi universities and Bell College educates trainers who will teach future teachers, nurses, scientists and engineers

* Birmingham University's Centre for West African Studies awards Cadbury fellowships, bringing young African scholars to the UK to work on a research project for publication

* Westminster University has a £3.4 million project with the Delta State Government in Nigeria to help create four polytechnics

* King's College London and KwaZulu-Natal University's Medical School give training in HIV care and anti-retroviral therapy

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