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Internationalisation of Higher Education in Africa: Characteristics and Determinants

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The internationalisation of African higher education suffered far-reaching impacts from colonialism and this continues today, with highly coercive and mimetic pressures produced by the conditionalities of bilateral and multilateral of organisations. This process and its contents at the global level define and diffuse the new African higher education imperatives, which demonstrate regionalisation and a sharp conflict in relationship with indigenisation. Such internationalisation is, in the main, not actively pursued by Africa, but is being controlled by the North and constitutes a complex of features from one country to another. The paper highlights the fact that African higher education institutions are not only shaped by national institutional and cultural structures, but they are also characterised by specific cultural features inherited from the past, which shape the way they respond to the current dynamics of globalisation. To overcome this passivism, the government and regional organisations are seen as still playing a relevant role in organising and shaping the internationalisation of higher education according to national culture, economic and social needs. Imposed education and economic reforms, both through Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs), which constitute the major driver for internationalisation in Africa, are aimed at accommodating greater control of coercive international aid. Within the discourse of educative roots, it is necessary to construct a broader perspective on the concept of internationalisation, so that higher education will perform successfully, both socially and culturally within localised contexts. To overcome these problems, the authors reach the conclusion that as actions of globalisation are unalterable, and presumed as the driver of internationalisation, it is suggested that the choice option for internationalisation should be one which does not overshadow or erode the importance of local knowledge, but rather complements it and is an extender of local dimensions.
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Keywords: African higher education; hybridisation of knowledge; indigenous knowledge; internationalisation; underdevelopment

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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  • World Studies in Education is a bi-annual, refereed, international journal offering a global overview of significant international and comparative education research. Its focus is on educational reforms and policy affecting institutions in the global economy.
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