AU Focuses on Efficiency and Growth

Members of the Africa University Board of Directors meeting in October 2016.The Africa University Board of Directors approved a new academic structure and ten new degree programs at its October 2016 meeting, giving its blessing to an ambitious plan for academic restructuring and growth.

The board’s actions follow the successful re-accreditation of Africa University in April by the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education (ZIMCHE). The institution scored high marks for quality assurance in the ZIMCHE review. Along with accreditation for five years, ZIMCHE approved Africa University’s first doctoral program, a PhD in Peace, Leadership and Governance. 

Prof. Munashe Furusa reported better than expected enrollment numbers for the 2016-17 academic year.

“By capitalizing on its strengths, Africa University is positioning itself to take advantage of the opportunities that the current environment and the future hold, without losing sight of the importance of being efficient and sustainable,” said Prof. Munashe Furusa, the vice chancellor.

A record seven new undergraduate degree programs were approved, offering professional training in areas such as Counselling, Human Capital Management, Gender and Cultural Studies, Social Work, and Religion and Community Health. The three new graduate degree programs are in Development Studies and Health Sciences.

The plan also calls for the university’s seven existing academic units to be merged into three colleges in order to increase operational efficiency. Going forward, all programs will be organized under these three colleges—Health, Agriculture and Natural Sciences; Commerce, Peace, Leadership and Governance; and Social Sciences, Humanities, Theology and Education. The move eliminates a number of high-level administrative positions and other overhead costs, and addresses the challenge of declining enrollment in a number of disciplines. Faculty and administrative staff are doing their part—the university has increased the teaching load of faculty from nine to 12 hours per semester and performance bonuses have been eliminated for 2016-17.

“This realignment puts the university in a stronger position for realizing its transformative pan-African mission and vision,” said Furusa.

In spite of concerns regarding social unrest, the economic impact of a severe drought in countries like Malawi and Zimbabwe and the loss of oil revenue in Angola and Nigeria, enrollment targets for the 2016-17 academic year were met. The university has a current enrollment of around 1,400 full-time students and there are 26 of Africa’s 55 countries represented in the student body.