Nine private universities and higher education institutions from eight African countries have joined forces to form the Network for the Scientific Mobility of South-South Students (RAMSESS).
The aim is to develop higher education and scientific research ‘space’ through harmonising higher education systems, institutionalising cooperation, and facilitating the mobility of students and staff.
The RAMSESS initiative was announced at the first meeting of representatives of the private universities and higher education institutions held under the theme ‘Pan-African Scientific Cooperation at the Service of the Development of the Continent’ at the Private University of Fez (PUF) in Morocco on 18 January 2023.
RAMSESS is a pioneering initiative for promoting academic excellence, integration and cooperation among its members. These are Morocco (Université Privée de Fès), Algeria (MDI Business School), Tunisia (Université Libre de Tunis [ULT] and EIGHT University, (the International School of Hotel Management of Tunis), Cameroon (IME DOUALA Esgc Yaoundé), Ivory Coast (École d’Architecture d’Abidjan), Gabon (BGFI Business School), Guinea (Kofi Annan University), and Senegal (Academia, High School of Law, and Political Science).
Besides focusing on enhancing the exchange of various educational and scientific experiences, sharing managerial practices, and promoting inter-African exchanges of higher education and scientific research personnel, RAMSESS will also strengthen ties and facilitate mutual recognition between North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa in the context of higher education and scientific research in Africa.
Study abroad in Africa
Kais Mabrouk, managing director of EIGHT University, the International School of Hotel Management of Tunis, as a member of RAMSESS, told University World News that, “RAMSESS aims to give young people the opportunity to undertake an academic exchange to enhance their knowledge, skills, and employability.
“The network will open up to applicants from partner institutions – which, together, have 15,000 students – but will start modestly in the first half of the year,” Mabrouk said.
He added that, for the moment, the RAMSESS budget is at the discretion of the universities and associated schools: students will be exempted from tuition fees, and the pioneer members – including UPF and ULT, aim to offer specific scholarships.
“RAMSESS will work for mobility to and from all African countries to develop the African academic talent pool and to tackle the brain drain which negatively affects the economies of the African continent and its development. The attractiveness of Morocco could strengthen this destination,” Mabrouk said.
About 82% of the 23,411 international students present in Morocco are nationals of African countries, according to statistics from Morocco’s Ministry of Higher Education.
Few study abroad
“The statistics clearly show that academic mobility outwards from the African continent by far exceeds that within,” Mabrouk said.
Study abroad within Sub-Saharan Africa is quite low: only 20% of Sub-Saharan students choose to stay in the region, according to a November 2022 study by Campus France, titled, ‘The major trends in Sub-Saharan African student mobility’, which deciphers the latest developments in the Sub-Saharan Africa region which has 430,000 students (7% of the world’s total).
To increase the number of students leaving to study in another African country and improve their living conditions, RAMSESS intends to apply to the African Development Bank and the African Union for funding, Mabrouk said.
African hub for sustainable development
RAMSESS could also help in establishing an African hub for scientific research on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He said that this could be achieved by organising skills training and learning programmes for students in partner universities that include skills, knowledge exchange, innovative solutions, and progress by linking labs in partner universities.