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Mak-Binghamton Explore Collaboration to Strengthen Internationalisation

  • In General
  • 9 Mar 2018 - 2:50pm
  • By Mark Wamai
  • 825
Prof. Aondover Tarhule (C) and Assoc. Prof. Eria Hisali (2nd R) flanked by L-R: Mr. Charles Ssemugabi, Assoc. Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze and Mr. John Bosco Oryema (R) after the presentation on Binghamton University, 7th March 2018, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda. Makerere and Binghamton have both prioritised Internationalisation as a key focus area in the coming decade.

As the current 10 year strategic plan nears its end of life in 2019, the Makerere University Management held a three-day Strategic Planning Retreat from 20th to 22nd February, 2018 that embarked on the yearlong process of formulating the next ten year Strategic Plan (2020/21-2029/30). One of the key areas of focus for the new strategic plan is the Internationalisation of academic programmes, collaborations, student admissions as well as faculty recruitment.

On 7th March 2018, Makerere University hosted Prof. Aondover Tarhule, Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School at Binghamton University; one of the top public research universities in the U.S. Prof. Tarhule’s mission was to explore ways of diversifying Binghamton’s international graduate student population (40%), currently comprised largely (65%) of students from India and China.
Welcoming Prof. Tarhule to Makerere University, the Principal College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS)-Assoc. Prof. Eria Hisali, who represented the Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration)-Prof. William Bazeyo noted the timeliness of this visit, in the wake of commencement of the aforementioned strategic planning process.

“We appreciate you reaching out to us and I must say that your visit fits well within our aspirations for the next ten years, where our key focus is going to be Internationalisation,” remarked Assoc. Prof. Hisali.

Assoc. Prof. Eria Hisali represented the Ag. DVCFA-Prof. William Bazeyo at the Mak-Binghamton meeting

He informed Prof. Tarhule that Makerere runs a collegiate system, whose introduction was aimed at combining discipline synergies with intention of boosting the implementation of University core functions, with a particular focus on research. “I therefore encourage you to kindly consider visiting some of our colleges in case your schedule permits” added Assoc. Prof. Hisali.

Starting off his presentation, Prof. Tarhule highlighted that Binghamton is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system comprised of 64 institutions with a combined student population of 400,000. Located in Binghamton where IBM was founded, the city is also home to other high-tech companies such aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, Johnson & Johnson among others. Binghamton is also ranked one of the top six most affordable universities in the world for international students; thanks to subsidies by the New York State.

“Unlike Makerere’s 45,000 students, Binghamton’s student population is only 17,000 with 13,000 of these undergraduate; a population we plan to maintain, but we have room for growth of the graduate student population up to 6,000. The low cost of living in the greater Binghamton area allows our graduate students to enjoy reasonably priced housing in a safe community with free bus transportation to campus. These buses are driven by our students to help them finance their education” said Prof. Tarhule.

Prof. Aondover Tarhule made the presentation on Binghamton's intention to diversify its Graduate International Student population

Prof. Tarhule further shared that Binghamton has come up with a number of innovation to make education more efficient in the face of changing market demands. One such innovation is the Accelerated Degree Programs, where undergraduate students are admitted well knowing that they will proceed directly to a Masters program in the same discipline. “This means that undergraduate students begin taking graduate courses during their senior years, which has made it easier and cheaper for students to come in” he added.

The second innovation shared by Prof. Tarhule was a refined pedagogy which seeks to produce graduates with T-Shaped skills, who can meet both academia and industry demands. Under the T-Shaped pedagogy, students are take both general education courses (horizontal part of the T), which equip students with a broad range of knowledge, and deep learning courses (vertical part of the T) which seek to ground the student in concepts specific to their discipline.

Prof. Tarhule nevertheless noted that education in the U.S. was also embracing the AGILE pedagogy, characterised by increased oral presentations that necessitate students to think on their feet whenever prompted. “The goal of this kind of training is to build transferable skills within one disciplinary area” he added.

Prof. Aondover Tarhule (L) makes his presentation as L-R: Assoc. Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze, Assoc. Prof. Josephine Ahikire, Mr. Charles Ssemugabi, Assoc. Prof. Eria Hisali and Mr. John Bosco Oryema listen in the Junior Common Room, Main Building, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda

In the reactions that followed, the Deputy Principal, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS)-Assoc. Prof. Josephine Ahikire sought to understand how the Humanities and Social Sciences can be helped to nurture the new generation of scholars to become experts in their field. “Can our collaboration consider including the aspect of resident scholars to help mentor the young generation of academics?”

Mr. John Bosco Oryema an Assistant Lecturer, CoBAMS noted that the field of Business Analytics is not well developed in the region. He therefore hoped that collaboration with Binghamton would expose students at Makerere to this vibrant sector. He further sought the possibility of introducing joint supervision of graduate students; with US-based and Makerere-based supervisors, a practice, he noted, quickens the process of finalising theses.

Mr. Charles Ssemugabi from School of Public Health, College of Health Sciences (CHS), sought to find out Prof. Tarhule’s Internationalisation diversification strategy moving forward. “Most partnerships start in the form of research at departmental level, then progress to staff and student exchanges and eventually summer schools” he commented.

Wrapping up the responses, Assoc. Prof. Hisali thanked Prof. Tarhule for his presentation, noting that Makerere indeed had a lot to learn from Binghamton’s innovations. “We need to come up with a broad Memorandum of Understanding at institutional level then work out the specifics at unit level, which can then help us identify issues of support and financing” he concluded.

Assoc. Prof. Eria Hisali (L) receives a Binghamton Diary from Prof. Aondover Tarhule (R) after the presentation

Prof. Tarhule thanked the staff present for their responses, noting that they had been both “profound and insightful.” He reiterated that his visit was exploratory and it was important for both institutions to identify mutual strengths and complementarities, so as to forge a mutually beneficial collaboration. “Whatever you decide to do, think mutuality; what are you offering? What do you want to get? Think as an equal partner who is seeking to bring something to the table.”
He shared that Binghamton was very strong in the fields of Engineering, Business and Smart Energy. “We are also in the final stages of developing a degree in Data Analytics and so the comment in that direction was timely.” Prof. Tarhule however, urged his audience to look beyond the competences within their individual disciplines to those within the entire University or region, “think of what you can do broadly as a region. Foundations out there will always seek to sponsor programmes that have a broader regional or even continental impact” he advised.

He concurred that mentorship for graduate programmes had been observed to be a major challenge for African Universities. He however hoped that many more students would stand to benefit from programmes such as the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), funded in part by the Carnegie Corporation of New York through which he is personally mentoring three African students as a Diaspora-based professor.

Prof. Tarhule further admitted that whereas training students abroad was expensive, it is essential. He noted that we live in a globalised world where intellectual power is no longer limited by political power and hoped that African institutions would increasingly emulate nations like China and India, who despite having large economic resources, still aggressively take advantage of cost effective models such as joint degree programmes.

“Setting up high-tech labs is a very expensive venture. Therefore summer programmes that expose African students to these high-tech facilities in the U.S. are a win-win, especially as internationalisation increasingly becomes a major contributor to institutional rankings. Therefore, my key message is that we are as much interested in internationalisation as you are. Thank you” concluded Prof. Tarhule.

Please see Downloads for Binghamton presentation

Article by Public Relations Office

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