The international battle for talent has reached Africa. Where do African students go when they study abroad, are Great-Britain and France still dominant? Campus France published the report ‘La mobilité des étudiants d’Afrique sub-saharienne et du Maghreb’ to shed some new light on these questions.
Around ten percent of all students that study abroad are from the African continent, 380.000 in total. “With a long history in Africa and the Maghreb, France remains the first country of residence for African students, with 115.000 students accounting for 29.2%”, the French government agency concludes in its report.
Aggressive promotion of Chinese culture
The French saw the number of students decline since 2006 with 1%, “however France still frequently hosts more than 50% of the students of one country, up to 89% for Algeria.” In the same period, other countries have increased the number of African students enrolled in higher education. The number of students in Malaysia has risen with more than 400% and in Great-Britain with 19.3%.
The number of African students in the US increased with only 2.3%. How is that other superpower, China doing? “The presence of China in Africa plays an important role in the economic field, but also in education. The Chinese have the policy to aggressively promote the Chinese culture and language through Confucius Institutes and a variety of ambitious scholarships. However, it is very difficult to find accurate and reliable data on the action of this country on the African continent”, Campus France concludes.
South Africa popular
The report showed that more and more students choose to continue their academic career on the African continent. Three main hubs have emerged in the last decade: South-Africa for English speaking students, Morocco for Francophone students and Angola for those that speak Portuguese. The number of students that chose for South-Africa was boosted with 28.8%.
South Africa, which stands as a regional center for higher education and research, is the most popular destination after France, with 57.000 students enrolled in higher education. South Africa accounts for 15.1% of the mobility of students from the African continent. South Africa is especially popular by students from Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and Lesotho.
This popularity of South Africa can be explained by two major advantages. On the one hand, the procedure for visas is less complex than in Europe or the United States. On the other hand, South Africa offers a lot of opportunities with a standard of living that is, although lower than in the EU or US, “accessible, dynamic and stable”. With the development gap between South Africa and Europe closing, the country offers interesting professional perspective for students from the continent.
The quality of education and research distinguishes South Africa from other African countries. Especially the level of public universities goes unrivaled. The increase in African intra-regional mobility is also reflected in the emergence of MOOCS. Distance learning, including MOOCs, accounts for 40% of the education programs in South Africa. “This form of teaching answers to the need of African students for training and education”, Campus France states. “The opening of 25 massive digital campuses underlines this success.”
Morocco in South Africa’s foot steps
Morocco might follow South Africa’s lead in becoming an important regional hub for international students. Currently 7000 African students study in Morocco which ranks it the ninth destination for African students, and it has great potential. Morocco has already more outgoing students than any other African country.
Campus France sees that Morocco is rapidly developing towards a leading country in Francophone education. The government wants to provide high level education at a price on which Europe and the US cannot compete. Over time, Morocco has to become more than a temporary destination for students that want to pursue their academic career in France. Scholarship schemes and the recognition of foreign degrees have to boost this development.
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