The demand of studying at a post-secondary level in many African countries is heavily outnumbering the available space. It was revealed that in Nigeria alone over one million qualified students could not secure a place at university last year and with 50% of Africans under the age of 19, demographics show that demand will continue to grow.
“We are not going to discover something new that is going to revolutionise higher education”
This topic was discussed at the “Making Tertiary International Education Accessible to Africa” conference last week in London, hosted by UNICAF, a distance-learning scholarship programme for students in Africa, the University of Nicosia Online and the University of South Wales.
Abhinav Mital, Parthenon-EY managing director, said in his presentation to the conference delegates that private sector provision is growing substantially as a result of the unmet demand.
“The public sector throughout the continent is unable to keep up with the growing demand for education,” he said. “And that is where the role of the private sector becomes important.”
He also quoted that over the last ten years in Kenya, Uganda and Zambia, the number of private universities has tripled.
Furthermore, as technological innovation develops, an increasing amount of African students are accessing tertiary education online.
Speaking to conference delegates, Nicos Nicolaou, CEO of UNICAF, said he believes that technology can deliver a much better experience to students.
“My view is that we are not going to discover something new that is going to revolutionise higher education,” he said.
“But there is going to be a steady stream of innovative products that we implement to improve specific ideas of online education.”
While Internet access is still a problem for many students across the continent, Susan McGowan-Koyzis, director of academic affairs at UNIC Online, says that those who can find a way to get online will.
“Students are very determined,” she told The PIE News. “I mean they’re on a bus for two hours so they can upload an assignment. But the sheer hunger gives them motivation and the hunger for that education so they find ways.”