Academic journal article Comparative and International Education

Strengthening Higher Education Space in Tanzania through North-South Partnerships and Links: Experiences from the University of Dar Es Salaam/Renforcer L'espace D'enseignement Supérieur En Tanzanie Grâce À Des Partenariats Nord-Sud et Des Liens : Expériences De l'Université De Dar Es Salaam

Academic journal article Comparative and International Education

Strengthening Higher Education Space in Tanzania through North-South Partnerships and Links: Experiences from the University of Dar Es Salaam/Renforcer L'espace D'enseignement Supérieur En Tanzanie Grâce À Des Partenariats Nord-Sud et Des Liens : Expériences De l'Université De Dar Es Salaam

Article excerpt

Introduction

Academic partnerships and links are construed by African universities as key strategies for capacity building, and international cooperation between North and South universities. Partnerships are, in practice, considered an integral part of institutional management structures. Almost every African public university maintains a unit or a full directorate to deal with partnerships and links as part of the central university management. For example, at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), the focus of this study, a new full directorate charged with universitywide international relations, partnerships and links was recently created in the UDSM Vision 20d7,ostensibly to accord partnerships and links with the status and role they deserve in the internationalization of the University.This new directorate is a part of the central university administration under the office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration. Other public universities in Tanzania have also established similar units to deal with international partnerships and links within their management and administrative structures.

There is an underlying assumption that these partnerships are instrumental in strengthening higher education space through research capacity building and academic staff development, and they are mutually beneficial, balanced, durable and empowering. Indeed, UDSM's redefined functions of partnerships are also based on the same suppositions: "to establish mutually negotiated, beneficial and durable links with institutions of higher learning and research nationally, regionally and globally" (Mshoro, Galabawa, Baregu, Chijoriga, Kombe, & Toba, 2007, p. 3).While the above assumptionstend to portray a rosy picture of partnerships and links in African universities, some hard realities are not openly acknowledged in the current literature.

This article explores the realities of partnerships in Tanzania public universities and the implications for strengthening higher education space. Partnerships in African public universities have inherent systemic shortcomings and imbalances, which I argue, limits their impact on strengthening higher education space. This article is divided into five sections: First, I provide a brief overview of partnerships in African public universities. Then, I outline the conceptual framework for this study, followed by the methodology and findings about partnerships at the UDSM in Tanzania. The final section of the paper analyzes these findings in light of the conceptual framework. In the conclusion, I will provide some recommendations for how partnerships can strengthen higher education space in Tanzania publicuniversities.The main argument is that while partnerships in African public universities are critical strategies for the internationalization of higher education, they have not significantly contributed to the strengthening of higher education capacity because of their inherent structural imbalances and shortcomings.

Partnerships, Links and Capacity Building: Definitions

Partnerships in higher education in this article are understood to be mutual collaborations between two higher education institutions thatshould be beneficial to both partners in the North and South. Examples of higher education partnerships as categorized by Kot (2016) include collaborative research, staff exchange, student exchange, knowledge and information exchange, teaching and curriculum development, and professional development for staff. Higher education partnerships may also cover conferences and workshops, student training, infrastructural development, and socioeconomic development. Samoff and Carroll (cited in Kot, 2016) identified four types of partnerships1 which are dominant in African universities, includingthe UDSM: university-level partnerships, department/faculty partnerships, multiple-inter-university partnerships, and partnerships among scholars. Links are normally established between departments or schools; for example, the Departments of Economics and Education at the UDSM have for several yearsmaintained links with the Department of Economics at Lund University's (Sweden) and the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta (Canada). …

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