World Bank and International Monetary Fund advisers pushed debtor nations to reallocate educational spending toward primary and secondary schools.
Meanwhile, authoritarian regimes suspected flagship universities of subversion and slashed their budgets.
By the 1990s, even the finest African universities were in crisis.
To compound these problems, the growth of secondary education drove a relentless demand for tertiary enrolments.
Governments mandated their flagship universities to enrol far beyond their carrying capacities.
New regional institutions were founded and tertiary technical colleges were granted university status.
Even with increases in funding, African higher education budgets lagged behind enrolment gains.
Thousands of African academics were so discouraged by the educational crisis that they left to find work elsewhere.
In the early 2000s the tide began to turn.
In 2001, the World Bank reemphasised the universities’ role in national development.
After years of neglect, western foreign aid programs re-targeted higher education and private funders returned.
The Partnership for Higher Education, for instance, which engaged eight American foundations with universities in nine African countries, invested around USD$440 million between 2000 and 2010.
African governments began to approve more organisational charters for private universities and technical schools.
In Ghana, for example, there were just two private universities in 1999. Now there are 28.
Christian higher education has played a salient role in this rapid private growth.
Nigeria has chartered 61 private institutions since 1999. Of these, 31 are Christian.
In Kenya, there are 18 chartered private universities and 13 more with interim authority. Of all these, 17 are Christian.
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