The higher education and research budget for 2016 will rise by more than FCFA19 billion (US$31.7 million) to support Senegal’s development plan for the sector, Higher Education Minister Mary Teuw Niane has told parliament. According to the budget report, the increased allocation should allow construction of infrastructure for universities under the higher education development plan.
He also confirmed government’s intention to create the technological Université du Sénégal Oriental de Tambacounda, and announced plans for the ministry to use outside financial institutions to simplify the student grant payment process.
During the budget debate in the National Assembly, Niane updated members of parliament about the country’s online Université Virtuelle du Sénégal, or UVS, which opened a year ago. Niane announced that the success rate of students in the first year of the UVS was more than 50% – a rate that he said indicated the good management of the institution. «The first examination results regarding these virtual universities prove that the management is good and the results are good, because they are above 50% of those candidates accepted in the first year,” he said. He compared the UVS success rate with that of first-year students in the faculty of law and politics at the country’s leading university, Cheikh Anta Diop University or UCAD, which was 46%».
But he told MPs there had been difficulties, with suppliers causing delays in providing the portable computers and internet keys the students needed. Niane recognised that obtaining internet keys had been the «headache of all time», but that from now on «all UVS students will have the opportunity to receive a free internet connection for the 14 months from November 2015 to December 2016». He said that Senegal possessed the widest bandwidth in Sub-Saharan Africa outside South Africa, making the internet available and access to WiFi easier in all universities.