Parallel trends in policy and policy
research on higher education in Africa
Yann Lebeau, 2011
[email protected]
Data origin
 Published research literature
African publications : AJOL, JHEA
Citation indexes : Scopus, SSCI
Bibliographies: W. Saint
 Unpublished research
 Policy sources
World Bank and UNESCO reports
International and national HE policies
in Africa
 A colonial implant
 Post-independence agendas: elite formation, state
consolidation and the developmental university
 The adjustment era: HE as a luxury ancillary
 A Washington consensus : external models and
continent-wide remedies ( in SSA: the World Bank as
‘‘single most important actor defining the parameters
of policy-making in the field of education’’ (Mamdani
2007, p. 10)
 The return of the instrumentalist rhetoric: HE and
poverty reduction in the knowledge economy
Parallel trends: research as consulting
 Research capacity in African Universities: declining funding and
increasing contrasts
 About 27,000 papers per year over the past 10 years = same volume of published
output as The Netherlands (Thomson Reuter 2010).
 Over the period, South Africa produced nearly as many papers as other African
nations put together
 85% of research papers involving authors based in Central Africa involve a co-author
from outside continent (Boshoff, 2010)
 The rise of the aid related consultancy industry: responsive studies and
gatekeepers empowerment
 The World Bank as knowledge bank: strategic research interests and
paradigmatic alignment
 A “renewed interest” : Case study methodologies and success stories
from the “big five” reformers (Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique,
South Africa)
 Building local research capacity vs. idea recycling and best practice:
CODESRIA and AAU initiatives
30 Years of HE research
Phases and trends (Scopus analysis)
 Up to 1980s
 Limited research interest in HE as such (small number of HEIs).
 Research on elite formation, social change.
 Published in European or American journals of African Studies and
Development Studies. Predominantly English but some French references too.
 Mid-1980s transition :
Research on impact of SAP on public universities
Student unrest.
Issues of access (impact of UPE schemes)
Professionalization of HE research
 1990s and 2000s: mainstreaming and alignment
Established presence in mainstream HE and education journals.
Enhanced visibility of authors based at African institutions.
Diversification of research foci
Comparative perspective
Epistemic paradigmatic alignment
30 Years of HE research
Analysis of Indexed literature -1984 to date (Scopus and SSCI, 344 titles)
 Top 5 Sources:
International Journal of Educational Development (25)
Higher Education Policy (18)
Perspectives in Education (15)
Higher Education (9)
International Review of Education (7)
 Languages
English (333) French (8) German (2) Spanish (1)
 Top 5 institutional affiliations
University of Cape Town (27)
University of Witwatersrand (19)
University of Stellenbosch (18)
University of Pretoria (17)
University of the Western Cape (13)
 Key themes (1990 – 2010)
1990 -1995: HE and politics, HIV /AIDS, brain drain, funding crisis., academic freedom.
1995 – 2005: South African issues (equity, quality/quantity, immigration), influence of the
World Bank, privatization, market models in public universities
2005 -2010; half of all records: equity and social justice , distance learning , online
provision, graduate employment, quality assurance, internationalisation of curricula,
Bologna process, finance, fees, access.
HE research published in Africa – AJOL search
 Dedicated journals are all based in South Africa until mid-2000s
 85% of (HE focused) peer reviewed articles published in Africa over the
last decade appeared in the South African Journal of Higher Education
 Other sources featuring more than once in AJOL database include
Makerere Journal of Higher Education, African Sociological Review,
African Journal of Library, Archives and Information Science, the
International Journal of Engineering, Science and Technology, Southern
African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, Lwati: A Journal of
Contemporary Research, Africa Insight , East African Medical Journal,
Nigerian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, Africa Development .
 Themes: similar to research published outside the continent over the
period (transformation of HE, privatization, ICT and distance learning,
quality assurance, access, employability) + themes specific to South
 Countries under focus : the Big 5 + Nigeria, Cameroon and Senegal.
Views from the South: A short history
and bibliographic analysis of JHEA
• Journal of Higher Education in Africa (JHEA) created in 2003 with
funding from American Foundations’ Partnership for Higher
Education in Africa.
• Edited and published in the USA (CIHE-Boston 2003 to 2006) and in
Africa (CODESRIA –Dakar) since 2006.
• Evolution:
From international perspectives on Africa to Africa in international trends
From US and Europe-based “expert” authors to home-based contributions
Readership and subscriptions: Increasingly “African” (open access)
Periodicity: from 3 (regular) to 2 (irregular) issues a year
Funding: From US Foundations to CODESRIA
Adams, J., King, C, Hook, D (2010) Global Research Report - AFRICA. Thomson Reuters.
Boshoff, N. (2009) Neo-colonialism and research collaboration in Central Africa. Scientometrics, Vol. 81, No. 2, 413–434
Cloete, N., Bailey, T. & Maassen, P. (2011) Universities And Economic Development In Africa. Pact, Academic Core And
Coordination. Wynberg, South Africa: Centre for Higher Education Transformation (CHET)
Collins, C. S. & Rhoads, R.A. (2010) The World Bank, support for universities, and asymmetrical power relations
in international development. Higher Education 59(2): 181-205.
Lebeau, Y. & Sall, E. (2011) Global Institutions, Higher Education and Development
in King, R., Marginson, S. and Naidoo, R. Handbook On Globalization And Higher Education. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar
Mkandawire, T. (2010) 'Running While Others Walk': the challenge of African development . LSE Inaugural Lecture.
Robertson, S. (2009), ‘Market multilateralism, the World Bank group, and the asymmetries of globalizing Higher Education:
toward a critical political economy analysis’, in Bassett, R. and Maldonado-Maldonado, A. (eds), International Organizations
and Higher Education Policy: thinking globally, acting locally? New York: Routledge, 113-31
Saint ,W. (2006) A Bibliography on Higher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa. Version 7.
Samoff, J. and Carrol, B. (2004) Conditions, Coalitions, and Influence: The World Bank and Higher Education in Africa
Prepared for presentation at the Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society Salt Lake City,
8–12 March 2004. Accessed January 2011 at
UNESCO (2009), World Conference on Higher Education: the new dynamics of higher education and research for societal
change and development, Final Communiqué, UNESCO, Paris, 8 July 2009, accessed June 2010 at
Viera, E.S. & Gomes J. A.N.F. (2009) A comparison of Scopus and Web of Science for a typical university. Scientometrics,
Vol. 81, No. 2 : 587–600

Journal of Higher Education in Africa