Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education

Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education



Prof Michael Cross, the founding Director of the Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education Studies (AMCHES) at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), South Africa, is sadly no longer with us. He died in a hospital in Johannesburg in the early hours of Sunday, 6 June 2021, after becoming afflicted with the COVID-19 virus.

Michael leaves a lasting legacy of dynamic scholarship in higher education. He was particularly focused on advancing the excellence and contributions of scholars from Africa and the South, linked to the decolonisation project of epistemic and social justice. Michael had established a wide range of contacts, nationally and internationally, all of whom share in the outpouring of grief, and disbelief in his untimely passing. He will be remembered by many for his immense intellectual contributions and consistent leadership, mentorship and wisdom in the formation of AMCHES, one of the many legacies he has bequeathed us, and one that we at AMCHES are dedicated to continuing.

His life’s work was also dedicated to the development of young scholars, and there are many living examples among us. He was a great mentor, always finding opportunities for students. He was meticulous in guiding and helping students enhance the quality of their intellectual endeavours, whether in the writing of their theses and publications or in making presentations at conferences and seminars. Michael’s students have risen to influential positions in academia, government and in civil society, a testimony to his ability to attract a diverse student group to work with him, and go on to make their mark in society.

There was always something special about him. He was not only your consummate scholar; he was an energetic and vibrant personality. Michael loved to laugh even while working – he enjoyed life! He loved those bright, sparkling shirts and outfits that was a signature of his effervescent spirit. As such, he was his own person with his own identity, yet as one with the vulnerable and downtrodden of this earth. Michael, we at the Ali Mazrui Centre at UJ, will miss you immensely, as will many others across the world, but we won’t forget you, as you will live on in what we do, and in our dreams!

By AMCHES staff and colleagues

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Welcome to the Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education

Established in February 2016, the Ali Mazrui Centre was formally launched on the 3rd of August 2017. 

Purpose and objectives
  •   To produce knowledge that contributes to deeper and nuanced understanding of strategic issues in higher education through multi-disciplinary and policy-relevant research; 
  •  To build institutional capacity in higher education leadership, management and governance through professional development programmes that are evidence-based and underpinned by high-quality research; 
  •  To promote critical reflection on, and advocacy of, higher education issues through facilitating and providing a platform for dialogue among scholars, institutional leaders and policymakers.

Vision and mission

Vision - to contribute to enhancing the role of higher education towards social and economic development in Africa within the context of democratisation and social justice. 

Mission - to be a Pan-African centre for scholarly research inquiry, training and professional development in higher education.

The Centre gives effect to its mission through the following focus areas:

(i) Research Training and Professional Development Programmes 
The Centre offers a strong postgraduate programme at master's and doctoral levels to contribute to the production of a group of highly skilled academics, researchers and knowledge practitioners. The Centre also offers short courses and workshop-based training on specific issues, including HE management, leadership and governance. Developing formal programmes that are conceptually and theoretically coherent, evidence-based and informed by research, distinguishes the programmes offered by the Centre. 

(ii)  Emerging Researchers' Development Programme  
Through the Emerging Researchers' Development Programme, the Centre aims to provide graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and early career academics with a unique, invaluable opportunity to apply the theoretical knowledge and skills gained during their earlier university experience to participate in the mainstream community of scholarship. 

(iii) Research Programme 
The specific research themes of the programme are determined by the policy imperatives at national, regional and continental levels and are informed by a combination of the interests of staff employed in the Centre and research partners at other institutions. Aside from leadership, management and governance, institutional and system differentiation, internationalisation and regionalisation, as well as issues of student formal and epistemic access, ranking systems and institutional culture, among others, research projects for collaborative large-scale multi-country, interdisciplinary research with the involvement of national and international researchers, constitute key activities. 

(iv) Advocacy and Dialogue
 The Centre provides a platform for dialogue and critical engagement on key issues in higher education through colloquia, seminars and conferences. This is to contribute to the public discourse and debate on higher education, including the provision of a space for key stakeholders to reflect on and engage with pertinent issues. 

(v) Higher Education Book Series

A book series on African Higher Education: Developments and Perspectives provides a platform for dissemination of seminal and cutting-edge research on current higher education issues in Africa. It is aimed at steering critical engagement among scholars, students, academic leaders, policymakers and other key stakeholders who have a strong interest in the progress, challenges and opportunities facing African higher education within a broader global context.

Beyond dissemination of scholarly work, the Centre is also dedicated to the production of technical reports and policy briefs for engagement with stakeholders.

(vi) Networking and Collaborations
The Centre seeks to establish collaborative relationships in research and training with similar national and regional centres, as well as with universities and educational formations in the region and beyond