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Prof Nawangwe pledges to transform Makerere University

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The newly appointed Makerere University Vice Chancellor Professor Barnabas Nawangwe has said he will hard work to ensure the university becomes the leading institution for academic excellence and innovation in Africa.

Prof. Nawangwe has also pledged to increase the number of graduate students to 30 percent of the total enrolment, up from the current 16 percent, while at the same time strengthening graduate training and research.

The Makerere University Administration Block

In a recent media interview, Prof. Nawangwe said once he takes office next month, he will ensure that the university provides innovative teaching, learning and research services that align well to national and global needs.

The immediate Deputy Vice Chancellor of Fianance and Administration, Prof. Nawangwe says he helped initiate 10 new programmes at graduate and undergraduate levels, increased student enrolment from 800 to more than 3,000 in five years and presided over the formation of the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT).

Prof. Nawangwe says that to create flexible teaching and learning programmes at the university, he intends to increase the number of programmes in open, distance and eLearning (ODeL). The university currently has only four programmes using ODeL. He will also increase joint research, technology and innovation transfer initiatives.

According to Prof. Nawangwe, during his tenure as vice-chancellor, he expects to establish at least three satellite and two on-shore branch campuses.

“I will make this possible through a review of academic programmes for relevance and duplication through strategic linkages with professional bodies and other stakeholders,” said Nawangwe adding that he will focus on streamlining and rationalising programmes, such as the internship completed by all second-year students.

He says that he will put in place a tracer study for the college of humanities and social sciences and reduce the number of undergraduate programmes from 400 to 160.

Currently, he said, pedagogical training is only carried out in three colleges and as vice-chancellor he will ensure that he establishes a learner-centred pedagogy and andragogy by increasing the number of staff trained for this purpose.

“My ultimate aim is to achieve a brand name and a great history for the university with the help of a high quality academic staff and … a top quality student body,” said Nawangwe.

Prof. Nawangwe says the university has challenges such as inadequately motivated staff, frequent strikes by students and staff, amorphous administrative structures, and undesirably high staff-student ratios in some units – all of which he will address.

He says Makerere University has a big opportunity as a result of the growing secondary school population in the country and the hunger for tertiary education in Uganda and the region. It also stands to benefit from the growing confidence of the government in Makerere’s capability and the support from the distinguished alumni of the university.

Other proposed academic reforms include the devolution of academic processes to colleges in some cases, and the enforcement of marking deadlines.

However, Prof. Nawangwe knows that being vice-chancellor will not be smooth sailing and he expects to face challenges such as competition from the increasing number of universities and political interference in the university management.

The 62-year-old Nawangwe is a professor of architecture, the only one in Africa, and has served in various high-profile academic positions. He is currently the deputy vice-chancellor for finance and administration at Makerere University. He is also a leading researcher in vernacular architecture and social housing.

He was elected by the 22-member Council to replace outgoing vice-chancellor Professor John Ddumba Ssentamu, whose term expires on August 30.

Prof. Nawangwe was the best out of the three candidates endorsed by the university Senate on June 28, the others being professors Edward K Kirumira and Venansius Baryamureeba.


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