African University of Science and Technology (AUST)
University description (as per official university website)
The African University of Science and Technology (AUST) is a private, pan-african, coeducational, research university located in Abuja, Nigeria. The mission of AUST is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the African continent in the 21st century. AUST is dedicated to providing its students with an education that combines rigorous academic study and the excitement of discovery with the support and intellectual stimulation of a diverse international and diaspora community. We seek to develop in each member of the AUST community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.
What is AUST?
A regional initiative established by the Nelson Mandela Institution (NMI, Inc.) in 2007. Conceived by Africans from the diaspora, incubated by the World Bank Institute (WBI) from its inception.
Its goal is to create world class research and advanced training institutes in relevant scientific and technological disciplines which would serve as regional resources and centers of excellence in Sub Saharan Africa. The Secretariat is currently hosted in Nigeria but the centers (currently underway in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Tanzania and South Africa) draw students from the whole region and have linkages to elite international technical institutions (e.g. IIT Bombay, United Nations University (UNU), ICTP).
AUST represents a new way of doing things in the higher education sector in Africa. It focuses on academic excellence, autonomy and transparency with independence from government interference on day to day operations, yet enjoying government ownership and support. It has tight links with industry, a strong corporate governance structure, and focuses on producing men and women with the entrepreneurial flair and compassionate spirit to help transform local communities and improve the human condition across the African continent.
To address skills and knowledge gap. In an era of accelerated globalization, with critical challenges in agricultural productivity and climate change, Africa finds itself with a severe deficit. The continent has less than 83 scientists and engineers per million compared to 423 in North Africa, 514 in other developing countries across the world, 783 in Asia (excluding Japan), and 1102 in advanced economies. The focus on graduate education will compliment the focus of most universities on the continent which is currently on undergraduate education. AUST is to develop graduate programs in areas important for Africa’s growth--oil and gas engineering, material science, applied mathematics/computer science and environmental science. In all these areas there is a recognized shortage of skilled local manpower, particularly in the Gulf of Guinea oil producing countries where the critical shortage reduces the ability to ensure widespread benefits to their citizens from the oil and gas industry;
To sustain Africa’s growth. Quality human capital is needed to discover the innovations needed to unlock economic growth and sustain a reasonably high rate of growth in Africa in other areas of development. A skills and knowledge-intensive approach may be the only path for countries that are landlocked or facing severe deficits in natural and physical resources;
Economies of Scale. In view of the small size of many African countries and the limited resources at their disposal, regional partnerships among groups of countries is cost-effective and more likely to help build institutions with the scale and finances that would provide specialized training and conduct strategic research (and compete on global scale).
Why is it unique?
Support from around the world. The AUST initiative has received overwhelming support around the world, especially in the scientific and donor communities, and from a number of bilateral donors as well as from the private sector. Two middle income countries have been very active in providing support—India through the IIT and IIS Systems and South Africa through the AIMS Mathematical Institute in Cape Town.
Demonstrated country ownership. A number of countries have shown high commitment and clear expressions of interest.
Autonomy and public-private partnerships. The players associated with the governance and advisory board structures for the AUST are actively engaged. The World Bank Institute continues to play an active role in shepherding the initiative and coordinating the efforts of an increasing number of parties both in and outside Africa. The International Finance Corporation has been another active player, assisting in the development of the business and implementation plan and managing key aspects of the initiative.