Encyclopedia of International Higher Education Systems and Institutions

Living Edition
| Editors: Pedro Teixeira (Editor-in-Chief), Jung Cheol Shin (Editor-in-Chief)

Flagship Universities in Africa

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-9553-1_276-1



Flagship universities are the leading institutions in a given higher education system or country, and are typically regarded as reference points for emulation. Flagship universities are almost always public institutions, and are often among the largest institutions in their respective higher education system (Altbach 2006).


Contrary to a widely held view, higher education in Africa is not entirely a manifestation of colonial rule. To be sure, a number of “institutions of higher learning” existed on the continent prior to the colonial scramble for Africa that began in the mid-1900s. While some of these earlier institutions have survived into the twenty-first century, the colonial period marks a low point for African higher education generally, as colonial aggressors sought to dismantle or limit its provision (Ajayi et al. 1996, p. 28).

The end of colonial rule ushered in a new phase – the era of national...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Higher Education Training and Development, School of EducationUniversity of Kwazulu-NatalDurbanSouth Africa

Section editors and affiliations

  • Hans De Wit
    • 1
  • Laura Rumbley
    • 2
  • Fiona Hunter
    • 3
  • Lisa Unangst
    • 4
  • Edward Choi
    • 5
  1. 1.Center for International Higher EducationBoston CollegeBostonUSA
  2. 2.Center for International Higher EducationBoston CollegeChestnut HillUSA
  3. 3.Centre for Higher Education InternationalisationUniversità Cattolica del Sacro CuoreMilanoItaly
  4. 4.Center for International Higher EducationBoston CollegeChestnut HillU.S.A.
  5. 5.Center for International Higher EducationBoston CollegeChestnut HillU.S.A.