WHY AFRICAN UNIVERSITIES SHOULD OFFER AN ONLINE OPTION

The challenges faced by African universities

Africa has one of the youngest populations in the world. The median age of citizens in African countries is less than 20. At the same time, multinational corporations flock to Africa for two reasons: a) to claim a part of its enormous consumer market and b) to hire youthful and low-cost personnel. As a result, we have seen a sharp increase in the demand for well-qualified graduates. Millions of young people apply to study with African universities. They are looking for higher education that is affordable, easily accessible and credible.

However, African universities cannot satisfy the increased demand. Traditional, brick and mortar universities need time to build new classrooms, libraries, computer labs etc. Also, they need to have capital available to invest in new facilities.

Consequently, a large number of young Africans are disappointed when they are unable to secure a university place. Some opt to study abroad (if they can afford it). Others enrol for online courses. Many are forced to take any job they find and put their dreams on hold. All of these options work against the effort of African countries for national development and socioeconomic progress.

The negative effects

The majority of African students who travel abroad to study do not return home after graduation. Instead, they remain abroad to work or do research. This ‘brain drain’ has a negative impact on African economies.

In addition, a lot of African talent is lost because applications far outnumber university places. Young people become disappointed, and if they remain unemployed may turn to substance abuse or to crime. So, instead of supporting local talent, African universities bypass many talented young citizens, because they lack the capacity. As a result, talent is lost and socioeconomic problems increase.

Universities in Africa receive inadequate funding, while maintenance costs rise. Plus, they face disruptions by strikes, sociopolitical unrest and challenges like the current coronavirus pandemic. For all of these reasons, African higher education institutions are forced to search for alternatives. And the best alternative by far is online delivery.

The advantages of online learning

It is a fact that, through the use of technology, African universities can extend their reach and increase their revenue. In the era of smartphones and Internet on the go, almost every school leaver or professional can access online learning.

Students can study from home, in their own free time, without neglecting work or family commitments. They can ‘earn as they learn’, self-fund their studies and continue to provide for their families. When studying online, students are not forced to suspend their studies during a lockdown, as is happening in many countries right now, because of the pandemic.

However, the cost of establishing and maintaining a digital platform to deliver online programmes is very high. It also requires specialist know-how to run it efficiently. Most universities in Africa are in no position to invest millions to set up their own digital infrastructure. So, what is the solution?

Unicaf is the solution

Unicaf (unicaf.org), a global higher education organisation, offers a tried and tested solution. Since 2012, Unicaf partners with established universities in the UK, the USA and Africa to facilitate the online delivery of their programmes.

Unicaf has professional know-how and state-of-the-art technology to facilitate the online delivery of degrees and professional courses globally. Furthermore, without the cost of operating a campus, Unicaf can offer partner universities’ study programmes at discounted prices, making them more affordable and more attractive.

How Unicaf can help African universities enrol more students

Unicaf can help African universities recruit students from all parts of the continent. Also, the credibility and good reputation of Unicaf reflect positively on the image of its partners. African universities partnering with Unicaf can expect their enrollment numbers to increase significantly without cost.

Unicaf’s marketing and advertising campaigns include the names of partner universities and help to make them known outside their countries. At the same time, students of African universities benefit through the online interaction with students from different countries; they become exposed to the procedures and the culture of the modern, multinational workplace.

Unicaf has years of experience in marketing partner universities’ programmes in different countries, and in recruiting thousands of online students. Partner universities supervise programme content, with strict codes of Quality Assurance in place, and award the degrees.

The Unicaf model

The flexible delivery model used by Unicaf uses a cutting edge digital platform, which covers all student needs from registration to graduation. The Virtual Learning Environment connects students and tutors, offers access to extensive e-libraries and networking forums and facilitates online programme delivery.

Through modern online teaching tools like videos, quizzes, polls and group projects, students learn faster and retain knowledge for longer. They interact through the VLE and receive individual attention from tutors, according to how fast or slow they process the material. They submit assignments, receive graded work and even take exams through the VLE and make friends and professional contacts in different countries.

Making university programmes available to millions

In other words, Unicaf can provide African universities with the technological infrastructure to facilitate the online delivery of their programmes to millions in Africa and beyond. Partner universities do not need to invest in technology or build new learning facilities. Providing an online option is important for universities in Africa to increase enrollments in response to the constantly growing demand for places.

Unicaf is the ready-made, effective solution to diverse challenges faced by African universities. Furthermore, Unicaf offers a reliable and efficient way to increase the number of university graduates in Africa, who can work for national and continental development and progress.