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Female students under-represented in Pan African University

Work is underway on policies to boost female enrolment at the Pan African University after admission figures showed a bias towards male students.

The PAU is a continental initiative to train postgraduates in Africa, using existing facilities in Africa’s five regions.

PAU officials attending the workshop said action was needed to tackle glaring gender inequalities on the university’s campuses.

For instance, women made up only 9.5 per cent of the total students enrolled at the PAU institute of life and earth sciences based at Nigeria’s University of Ibadan in the 2013/14 academic year.

And in 2012/13 women constituted less than 30 per cent of students at the institute of basic sciences, innovation and technology based at Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.

The institute for governance, humanities and social sciences at Cameroon’s University of Yaoundé did better, with a female enrolment ratio in 2014/15 of over 37 per cent.

The highest proportion of women was at the water and energy sciences campus at the University of Tlemcen in Algeria, where female enrolment stood at 43.7 per cent in the 2014/15 academic year. 

The guidelines were discussed during a four-day workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 8 December.

Representatives attended the workshops from the PAU’s four existing host institutions in East, North, West and Central Africa.

A parallel workshop also drew up communication plans for the PAU to boost its visibility.

The fifth and final PAU campus, focusing on space sciences, has yet to be set up. There are plans to establish it in South Africa.