KAMPALA – Makerere University has hosted the Quarter Four (Q4) Vice-Chancellors’ Forum 2019 in the Senate Conference Hall.
The half-day event was addressed by the Executive Director, National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), Prof. Mary J.N. Okwakol. The University Leaders were received by the Acting Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic Affairs), Dr Umar Kakumba together with the Academic Registrar, Mr Alfred Masikye Namoah.
Dr. Kakumba expressed his delight at Makerere hosting the last Forum of the year, noting that it was a good networking opportunity for University leaders to share experiences. “This a very important platform for the consolidation and harmonization of quality in Higher Education as it enables us to standardize and foster improvements in curriculum and training.”
The Acting Vice-Chancellor further noted that the forum is a very useful umbrella for advocating for support for the Higher Education Sector from Government and other stakeholders. “Research shows that there are higher dividends from supporting Higher Education, especially for the production of informative and transformative research. The Vice-Chancellors’ Forum is a great platform for advocating for this, especially as the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) of 1992 led to a lot of withdrawal of Government support from Higher Education, particularly Graduate Training.”
Delivering her paper, Prof. Mary Okwakol noted that the Higher Education sector currently faces a challenge of producing quality graduates, most of whom do not have the necessary competence and skills to meet industry demands. She, therefore, urged the Vice-Chancellors to continue refining curricula to produce relevant academic programmes that can address the problem.
The Executive Director NCHE further urged Universities to focus on research and commercialize the products generated from the same. Touching on the issue of resource mobilization, she urged Vice-Chancellors to always benchmark the experiences of peers that have successfully attracted research grants to their institutions, “and I commend the Vice-Chancellor, Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) Prof. Celestino Obua in this regard.”
She equally urged Universities to engage with communities, embrace quality assurance, regular dialogue with the Government on matters relating to policy and ensure gender equity in the implementation of institutional programmes.
The Council is open to dialogue with all heads of Universities so do not hesitate to seek guidance from my office should the need arise,” concluded Prof. Okwakol.
The Executive Director of Uganda Vice-Chancellors’ Forum (UVCF) and Head UVCF Secretariat, Prof. Paul Mugambi shared that the body is in charge of organizing the Forum’s quarterly meetings as well as the statutory committees. The Secretariat also communicates to Members about their obligations and organizes the Annual Vice Chancellors Conference from which the Annual Conference Bulletin is derived.
The 9th edition of the UVCF Conference was hosted by Kampala International University (KIU) on Friday 4th October 2019 and emphasized the need to look into restructuring Higher Education in conjunction with the line Ministry. “We particularly examined the role of A-Level as students specialize too early, which is an ongoing discussion with the Ministry of Education and Sports and other bodies,” added Prof. Mugambi.
Rev. Canon Dr John Senyonyi, the Vice-Chancellor Uganda Christian University (UCU) is the current Chairperson UVCF (March 2018 – March 2020). He shared that the Q4 meeting had reached excellent consensus on a number of substantive issues raised. Particularly, the forum had agreed to write a paper on improving the process of conducting exams as well as the mentorship of leaders.
“Universities tend to get their leaders out of classrooms but who prepares them for leadership?” Rev. Canon Dr Senyonyi pondered, before adding “The Vice-Chancellors’ Forum has appointed a task force chaired by Prof. Maud Kamatenesi, Vice-Chancellor Bishop Stuart University, to write a paper on mentorship and present it at the next Forum on 23rd March 2020.”