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Higher Education in Tanzania: A Case Study

Overview

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Through its Institutional Transformation Programme (ITP), the University of Dar es Salaam managed to take bold decisions and put in place firm measures that have enabled it to stop the process of decay that had afflicted the institution before the reform process began, but also to gear up to fulfill its core functions better. Unity and commitment within the university leadership and support from government and the donor community have contributed to the university's bid to regain its former glory as a center of academic excellence.

This case study of the University of Dar es Salaam was commissioned by the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa, as part of its effort to stimulate enlightened, equitable, and knowledge-based development and to provide a guide to understanding. The study addresses the environment for higher education in Tanzania, the institutional framework -- including governance, finance, curricula, staffing, equity, and students -- and the ongoing efforts to turn challenges into transformation.

The study conveys a dramatic picture of what is possible by way of self-generated university reform in Africa, underscoring the important role of government in creating a favorable economic and political environment. At the institutional level, key features include the place of autonomy, sound management, diversified finance, bold leadership, and material and intellectual incentives in improving the quality of teaching, learning, and research. Challenges that remain are discussed. The rapid expansion of enrolment that is under way will inevitably stretch the human and physical resources of the university and threaten to undermine the quality improvements that are being planned. The UDSM's ability to produce employable graduates is the ultimate test of the ITP.

Confronting these issues will require clear thinking and continued innovation on the part of the university leadership as well as a working relationship with government and well-targeted donor support. Balancing continued growth in student enrolment with improvements in quality constitutes the major challenge for the UDSM in the twenty-first century.

© 2017 Partnership for Higher Education in Africa. Last updated: 12 October 2010