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A ‘local turn’ for Africa’s flagship universities? A Comparative Case Study of the University of Rwanda and universities in nine African city regions

Ransom, James Colin; (2023) A ‘local turn’ for Africa’s flagship universities? A Comparative Case Study of the University of Rwanda and universities in nine African city regions. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

There is limited analysis of how universities in sub-Saharan Africa engage with and contribute to the development of their local surroundings. This study seeks to answer a seemingly straightforward question: are African flagship universities – often the most prestigious and largest institution in their country – developing a local focus alongside their historic national mission? It does this by adopting a multi-scalar approach: looking at local, national and global activity, and the relationship between these scales. Ten flagship universities in African city regions are analysed, including a detailed examination of the University of Rwanda. Two data components inform the findings: thematic analysis of strategic plans, and interviews with senior staff from universities, government, and other organisations working in Rwanda. This study shows how the traits that unite flagship universities directly and indirectly shape engagement activity. Some of the traits emerging from the research are a reflection of the broader marketisation of higher education (an emphasis on consultancy, for example), and others assert the unique public role of the flagship as embodied in its founding role (such as the circulation of staff between public offices). The overriding focus of the flagship university is to manage the tension between these two groups, to reconcile them in the name of national relevance and to ensure institutional survival. As such, there is a local dimension to their activity, but this is an adjunct to an unequivocal national focus. However, city regions are places where the international coexists with the national and local, and the centre is entangled with the periphery. Local engagement is a means of contributing to national development. The histories and strategic plans of the ten flagships are analysed, before an exploration of practice at the University of Rwanda. This study introduces three frameworks: first, the components that determine the extent of local engagement (institutional setup, demands of external stakeholders, and actions of staff); second, a process to show stages of engagement; and third, a decision tree to consider institutional hurdles. Finally, wider implications of the local role of African flagships are considered.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: A ‘local turn’ for Africa’s flagship universities? A Comparative Case Study of the University of Rwanda and universities in nine African city regions
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: CC BY-NC: Copyright © The Author 2023. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Education, Practice and Society
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10178999
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