Multi-Institutional Partnerships for Higher Education in Africa: A Case Study of Assumptions of International Academic Collaboration

Ladislaus M. Semali, Rose Baker, Rob Freer


Public and private universities in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, and elsewhere in Africa, were experiencing all time high enrollments since the late 1990s. To address these demands, university administrators sought partnerships with universities of the global North to facilitate the necessary educational reform and curriculum transformation to meet the needs of the increased enrollments. In spite of these efforts, in the past 10 years the partnerships failed to meet expectations. A case approach was used to study reports, journals, interview notes, surveys, and qualitative data collected during 2007 – 2012 from one university selected purposely to shed light on partnerships and linkages with African universities. The authors examined the expectations, dynamics, and intricacies of academic partnerships and the reality of African academic institutions. The analysis revealed perplexing assumptions that undergird the expectations of collaboration between U.S. and African partners as well as cross-cultural dynamics that govern, sustain, and sometimes frustrate such engagements.

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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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