The Africa University Board of Directors approved a new academic structure and 10 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 reaccreditation 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 Ph.D. in peace, leadership and governance.
"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 Professor Munashe Furusa, AU 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 merge 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
- Social Sciences, Humanities, Theology and Education.
The move eliminates a number of high-level administrative positions and other overhead costs, as well as addresses the challenge of declining enrollment in a number of disciplines. Faculty and administrative staff are doing their part as the university has increased the teaching load of faculty from nine to 12 hours per semester and performance bonuses have been eliminated for 2016-2017.
"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 2016-2017 academic year were met. The university has a current enrollment of approximately 1,400 full-time students, and 26 of Africa's 55 countries are represented in the student body.
Andra M. Stevens, Director, Communications, Africa University Development Office
One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Africa University Fund transforms Africa by educating and empowering students from across the continent through Africa University, the first fully accredited, United Methodist-related educational institution on the continent. The Africa University Fund supports the general operating expenses of Africa University including faculty and staff salaries and vital infrastructure. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Africa University Fund at 100 percent.