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University of London to work with King’s College London to empower young people in Africa following £10million donation


King’s College London has received a £10million donation from Nigerian Philanthropist, Lawyer and University of London alumnus, Aare Afe Babalola, to establish the Afe Babalola African Centre for Transnational Education. The Centre will offer blended and online programmes and a bespoke programme for Africa developed in partnership with the University of London and an alliance of leading African universities.

Senate House from a distance surrounded by trees

The new Centre will enable young Africans to access education and opportunities which they would otherwise not be able to have. The vision for the Centre is based on the power of education to empower and enable Africa’s talented young people to make meaningful contributions to their communities and the world. 

The Centre will offer blended and online programmes, ensuring access to students who have had their journey to higher education disrupted by conflict, displacement, or other transitions. It will also offer post-graduate level modules which can be brought together to create professionally recognised qualifications from diplomas to Masters degrees. Aare Afe Babalola’s donation will be also provide scholarships alongside other funding partners, to support bright students who would not otherwise be able to access these programmes, generating valuable knowledge about the nature and impact of transnational education on Africa’s development.

A bespoke programme for Africa will be developed in partnership with the University of London and an alliance of leading African universities. Modules will focus on topics that give talented young people society-relevant knowledge and skills that can improve their own lives, their communities, and their futures – such as law, health, engineering, peace and security, and leadership. 

Professor Shitij Kapur, President & Principal of King's College London said:

“This partnership reflects a shared belief by King’s and Aare Babalola in the power of education and its role in service to society – the ethos upon which King’s was founded nearly 200 years ago. 

“More than 450 million African youth are between the ages of 15-35, with less than 10% of enrolled in post-secondary education, making the issue of access to quality education all the more urgent. We are delighted that Aare Babalola’s donation provides a valuable opportunity to strengthen and grow our work with partners in Africa and deliver transformative education within the region.” 

This vision is inspired by Aare Afe Babalola’s own experiences of growing up without easy access to high quality education and benefitting from the transformative power of remote learning. This allowed him to study from his home in Nigeria and to graduate with degrees in Economics and Law from the University of London. 

“Partnering with King's College London, to me one of the first universities in the world to appreciate the power of education to provide quality education for the under-privileged in the 1960’s, is a project that is dear to my heart. This is the more so because education is the surest panacea to ignorance, poverty, extremism, religious bigotry, and tribalism among other vices.

“My contribution to this Programme is a way of reciprocating what I benefitted from the laudable and unique External Degree Programme of the University of London in the 1960’s without which I certainly would have ended up an unsung farmer or at best the Secretary of the Local Motor Union.”

Building on a longstanding commitment to Africa at King’s and the University of London

This partnership will build on King’s long-standing commitment to Africa and a legacy of working in true collaboration with African academics and institutions to deliver education and impactful research partnerships in the region for the benefit of all.

A key example of this, is the African Leadership Centre, which was established at King’s and in Kenya, in collaboration with the University of Nairobi, to develop a new community of African leaders, generating cutting-edge knowledge for peace, security and development in Africa. A new doctoral programme in Engineering developed in collaboration with the University of Makerere, launched earlier this year, providing innovative training with industry placements and a joint PhD in Engineering is in development with the University of Pretoria, building on a successful joint programme in Leadership and Security Studies.

Further, King's Global Health Partnerships works with health facilities, academic institutions, and governments to strengthen health systems and improve the quality of care in four countries: Somaliland, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zambia.

The University of London pioneered distance learning in the 19th century and is now home to the Centre for Online and Distance Education (CODE), an internationally recognised Centre of Excellence with a global network of Fellows. CODE works with national and local organisations to support capacity building and staff development in higher education, partnering in Africa with the National Universities Commission of Nigeria to host symposia on online and distance education topics for Nigerian higher education leaders. 

Professor Wendy Thomson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of London, said:

"The partnership and resource made possible by this generous gift from Aare Babalola offers a timely opportunity for us to develop transnational education programmes for young Africans in collaboration with King’s College London and a network of African institutions, that would not otherwise be possible.

"We are deeply grateful to Aare Babalola for his foresight and appreciation of the value education brings to personal and social development. Through the centre being established in his name, we will develop quality transnational programmes that will leave an enduring legacy."