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Developing and Retaining the Next Generation of African Academics

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Background on the Next Generation of Academics Theme

Solving the Next Generation problem will require highly trained academics working within functional universities and collaborating through networks and other kinds of academic communities. A collective effort in support of the Next Generation of Academics is an imperative for all with a stake in the future of African higher education.

The need is clear and the scale and nature of the constraints are known or are knowable in every context. There is a need to expand the professoriate because of pending retirements of large proportions of the academic staff, low qualification of existing staff, expanded enrolment, particularly at the undergraduate level, inadequate faculty growth, and continuing equity concerns regarding the make-up of the professoriate.

Several "pull" factors are preventing entry to academic careers and reducing retention:

Internal to institutions, numerous "push" factors are operating:

In addition to lacking environments conducive to attracting and retaining new academics, many universities have limited capacity to provide postgraduate training. In some settings, universities lack the specialized libraries, laboratories, and comprehensive coverage of the field needed for doctoral training. In still more settings, too few faculty are qualified to supervise doctoral training. Certain fields lack a critical mass of faculty in single institutions, particularly in S&T. Undergraduate training predominates, and it is common to see duplication of undergraduate programs, over-ambitious course offerings instead of specialization, and a failure to evolve into centers of excellence.