Multi-Institutional Partnerships for Higher Education in Africa: A Case Study of Assumptions of International Academic Collaboration Page: 54
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A case study approach was used to examine reports, journals, interview notes, survey, and qualitative data collected
from 2007 - 2012 in one university selected purposely to shed light on partnerships and linkages with African
universities. The goal was to expose the dynamics and intricacies of academic partnerships and the reality of African
academic institutions. The analysis disclosed the challenging assumptions that undergirded expectations on both
sides-the U.S. University and the African universities-as well as the dynamics that governed and sustained such
engagements. This paper's intention was to share with readers a response to the call from African university
administrators who wanted to partner with a U.S. university. The analysis aimed to illuminate this topic, expose
intricacies involved in negotiating partnerships, and shed light on the dynamics of what makes a successful
collaboration effort that allows partners to focus energy and resources to produce strategic outcomes and establish
sustainable collaborations. The individuals or universities studied were not named.
2. Background of the Research Problem and Context
The educational reforms and the pursuit of partnerships came after many years of neglect resulting from the
economic down turn of the 1970s, the socialist policies, and the outright preference of donors to fund primary
education at the expense of higher education. Global policies introduced by the World Bank and the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) and implemented by African governments shifted funds and resources to primary education,
placing the burden of higher education costs on the institution and the individual (Parker, 2010). Only lately,
ambitious programs like the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals have encouraged those benefactors to
view universities as critical to Africa's economic and social development, particularly in such key areas as agriculture
and engineering (United Nations, 2010). At a time now when African university applicants were at their highest,
institutions were unable to provide students with the necessary resources to succeed. Table 1 depicts a selected
number of partnerships with African universities.
Table 1. Spread of African Universities and Their Level of Engagement
Host Country Funding Award Contribution
Country Institution U.S. Institution Date of Award (USD) (USD)
University of University
Ghana System of 2000 100 000 27 000
Cape Coast Georgia
University of Tufts University
Kenya a School of 2003 125 000 71 000
Nairobi, Kenya Medcin
Deorai University of University of
Republic of the .. . . . 2004 100 000 64 000
Congo Mbuji Mayi Northern Illinois
TanzaaMakerereThe Ohio State
Tna an University, 2005800 000 310 000
Kenya, Uganda Egro University
Note: a The collaboration built an Internet-based, interactive curriculum to improve public health in Kenya.
Source: Appendix B, HED/USAID Higher Education Partnerships in Africa, 1997-2007
Ideally, the possibilities of engagement were limitless for academicians collaborating internationally with colleagues
in other institutions and settings. Among other benefits, the principal expectation was that international partnerships
provide professional development opportunities for faculty and administrators, interaction among students,
enhancements to the curriculum, increased effectiveness in achieving educational goals, and even provide
efficiencies that result in financial savings (Cogburn & Levinson, 2003).
During the last decade, a flurry of memoranda of understanding (MOUs) were signed between the U.S. university
studied in this article and universities in 17 African countries to collaborate at different levels of involvement in
teaching, service learning, and research by connecting to international networks through the use of advanced
technology. This rush was further encouraged by the view contained in the declaration of higher education as a vital
development tool and on the basis of which multilateral and bilateral regimes, foundations, and other development
partners had a change of heart and were to favorably support the sector, though still with constrained enthusiasm as
the latest African Commission Report (2010) had indicated.
ISSN 192 7-6044 E-ISSN 192 7-6052
International Journal of Higher Education
Vol. 2, No. 2; 2013
Published by Sciedu Press
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Semali, Ladislaus M. Multi-Institutional Partnerships for Higher Education in Africa: A Case Study of Assumptions of International Academic Collaboration, article, April 15, 2013; Toronto, Ontario. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc910323/m1/2/: accessed September 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Information.