Higher Education in Mozambique

Higher education (HE) has never reached more than a tiny fraction of Mozambicans. In 1996, the country had only 40 HE students per 100,000, compared to 638 in Zimbabwe and 5,339 in the United States. The first institution was founded in 1962 and was upgraded to university status (University of Lourenço Marquez) in 1968. It was overwhelmingly white, with only 40 African students at the time of independence in 1975. Independence initially produced a huge exodus of staff and students, student numbers at the university falling from 2433 in 1975 to 750 at the renamed Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM) in 1978. At that time there were only ten Mozambican teachers, with staff from the Communist bloc filling many of the vacancies; the university at this time has been described as, "truly a Tower of Babel". The percentage of foreign teachers at the institution has steadily declined since then, to 33% in 1991, and then 14% in 2001. During the 1980s, many Mozambican students attended higher education instead in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

To increase the number of qualified teachers in the country, a Faculty of Education at the university was established in 1980, but this was superseded by the foundation of the country's second HE institution, Universidade Pedagógica (UP), in 1985. A third, the Higher Institute for International Relations (ISRI), was founded to train diplomats in 1986.

Partly due to the establishment of the private universities, student numbers rose from below 4000 in 1990 to almost 12,000 in 1999. Nevertheless, UEM and UP remain by far the largest HE institutions, with approximately 7000 and 2000 students respectively, compared to around 1000 each for UCM and ISPU.

There are almost twice as many male students as female (1.8:1 in 1999); this discrepancy is more severe in the government universities, where men outnumber women 3:1. There are also substantial class inequalities in access to education. HE students are disproportionately likely to have Portuguese as their native language, and are far more likely than the general population to have educated parents. The two main universities have markedly different catchment patterns: almost 60% of UEM students are from urban areas, and a quarter from rural areas, while for UP these proportions are reversed.

Until 1990, access to HE at UEM was guaranteed for all those completing secondary school. This changed with the introduction of entrance exams the following year. Demand for places now substantially outstrips supply: in 1999, there were 10,974 applicants for 2,342 places. This over-subscription generally applies only to the government schools, with the non-governmental institutions having roughly equal numbers of applicants and places.

Completion rates
Completion rates at Mozambican HE institutions are extremely low. In the late 90s, only 6.7% of UEM students and 13.1% of UP students eventually graduated. Mario et al. have suggested that the difference between these two rates can be attributed to UEM's requirement of a final dissertation. They caution that the low proportion of students completing their studies can actually be a sign of success, as many students find work before ending their courses, and so do not feel the need to formally graduate.

Non-governmental institutions
The advent of the non-governmental universities has prompted some controversy. They have been criticised for their motivations (financial and religious, rather than purely educational), and for luring teachers away from the state sector. Many teachers work part-time at the private institutions in addition to their government jobs, so it has been argued that the private universities do at least increase the amount of education which they are providing. As noted above, the new universities have also helped to increase the number of places available and the geographical range of provision.

Universities include:

Universidade Eduardo Mondlane - Maputo public
Universidade São Tomás de Moçambique private
Universidade Católica de Moçambique - Nampula, Sofala, Cabo Delgado private
Universidade Mussa Bin Bique private
Instituto Superior Politécnico e Universitário - Maputo, Quelimane private
Instituto Superior de Ciências e Tecnologia de Moçambique private
Instituto Superior de Relações Internacionais private
Instituto Superior de Transportes e Comunicações private
Universidade Pedagógica - Maputo, Sofala public
Universidade Técnica de Moçambique public
Academia Militar Samora Machel public
Universidade de Lúrio- Nampula private
Academia de Ciencias Policiais - Maputo private
Universidade Zambeze - Beira public