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Mak DRGT Reviews Graduate Training Policies and Guidelines

First Deputy Vice Chancellor(Academic Affairs), Dr. Ernest Okello Ogwang (Centre), Director DRGT-Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza (to his Left), Dr. Paul Kibwika (to his right) with other participants during the official opening of The three-day workshop, 24th May 2018, Royal Suites Bugolobi, Kampala Uganda

For three days (23rd to 25th May 2018), members of Makerere University Management, Principals, Deputy Principals, Deans, researchers, staff from the Department of the Academic Registrar, Directorate of Research and Graduate Training (DRGT) and Public Relations Office convened at Royal Suites Bugolobi in a retreat aimed at reviewing policies and guidelines on graduate training. The retreat also sought to further align graduate training processes with the IUCEA and NCHE guidelines and recommend reviewed proposals to the Board of Research and Graduate Training.

Expected to end in June 2018, the review process will culminate in the production of the Makerere University Graduate Prospectus and an improved Graduate Handbook. It will also generate ideas and strategies aimed at strengthening graduate training and research at Makerere University.

“Graduate Training should form the pillar as we continue to advance the case for a research-led University. I am glad that we have convened here for three days to receive valuable input from stakeholders who drive the agenda at the University. The University has embarked on developing a Strategic Plan for the next 10 years (2019/20-2029/30) and Graduate Training and Research should be top on the agenda,” remarked Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza, Director DRGT.

Director DRGT, Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza contributes to the discussion during the review workshop

Officially opening the retreat, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs), Dr. Ernest Okello Ogwang emphasized the need to improve the research culture at the University. He implored the participants to propose ideas where both the supervisors and students are committed to completion of PhDs within the stipulated years. “The review process should put in place mechanisms where each party namely the University authorities, supervisors and students is fully committed to playing his/her role.”

Providing a broad overview of Graduate Training at Makerere University, DRGT Deputy Director (Administration), Dr. David Owiny indicated that the review process accords all stakeholders the opportunity to come up with strategies of increasing the number of graduate students at Makerere University to at least 20%.

“In 2014/2015, the Makerere University Fact book indicated that 635 members of staff had attained PhDs and I am sure that the numbers of staff with PhDs has continued to rise. If each member of staff with PhD supervised One (1) student, Makerere University will be in position to graduate over 300 PhDs in a year,” revealed Dr. Owiny.

Dr. Paul Kibwika (Left) facilitated the review workshop

To set the pace, the Facilitator, Dr. Paul Kibwika invited Mrs. Patience Mushengyezi to present an overview of Policies and Guidelines of Graduate Training at Makerere University. She highlighted the policies that needed revision or rethinking, those that were difficult to implement, and some that had never been implemented. Mrs. Mushengyezi ended the informative presentation on an optimistic note.

“With the review of graduate training policies and enforcement of existing ones, we shall see graduate students completing on time and increased numbers of graduate applicants. Makerere University will then realize her dream of being a research-led University.”

During the retreat, participants pitched for the regularisation of crosscutting courses in the University. “Crosscutting courses should be mandatory. All students enrolled on the PhD programme should study these courses and Colleges should review their PhD Curricula to include crosscutting courses.”

Mrs. Patience Mushengyezi gave an overview on the current status of policies and guidelines on research and graduate training

Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza applauded the participants for realising that crosscutting courses such as Research Methods, Information Competence and Scholarly Writing equipped PhD students with the required knowledge and skills that significantly contribute to their competence. The Director disclosed that he had received a number of testimonies affirming this from those who had participated in the crosscutting courses.

Dr. Paul Birevu Muyinda,  the Deputy Principal, College of Education and External Studies (CEES) informed the participants that he was one of the beneficiaries of crosscutting courses. “I tell you, you are empowered to do things differently,” he rallied.

Providing a solution to the scenario where only 40 out of 200 PhD student applicants are considered for the crosscutting courses, Dr. Muyinda appealed to DRGT to work with the Department of Open Distance and Distance Learning, CEES, to embrace e-learning so that the courses are put online. “With this approach, more applicants will be considered.”

Dr. Paul Muyinda Birevu (R) and Dr. Gilbert Maiga (C) consult during the review

Participants also advocated for strengthening of Doctoral Committees so that these eventually evolve into research teams at the respective units. Owing to the important role they play, consensus was reached that Doctoral Committees should be strongly encouraged and acknowledged in Theses/Dissertations.

Some of the pertinent recommendations arising out of discussions included: timely remuneration of external and internal examiners; upholding the supremacy of the external examiner; training staff in customer care; and expediting approved appointments in the Academic Registrar’s Department so as to dedicate special registrars to the management of graduate students.

During the retreat, participants listened to experiences on graduate training and supervision presented by Dr. Andrew E. State from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS) while Dr. Stephen Wandera presented the CARTA model focusing on building vibrant, viable and sustainable multidisciplinary research hubs at African universities. Dr. Wandera’s presentation also covered creating networks of locally-trained internationally recognised scholars as well as enhancing the capacity of African universities to lead globally competitive research and training programs. Dr. Daudi Jjingo who represented Prof. Tonny Oyana-Principal, College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), provided tips on how to enhance the quality of Graduate Training.

Dr. Andrew Ellias State (R) shared CHUSS' graduate training and supervision experience

Mr. Richard Byarugaba, the Head of Examinations and Transcripts Division who represented the Academic Registrar, Mr. Alfred Masikye Namoah commended DRGT for organising the retreat and appealed to the members to discuss the modalities of funding graduate programmes. He noted that graduate programmes are privately sponsored, which affects concentration as well as the completion rate of students. He also advised the University authorities to conduct a fresh per unit cost analysis of training a graduate student.

The participants were grouped into critical thinking sessions focused on increasing the number of applicants at graduate level, financing Graduate Training, enhancing teaching and learning, thesis examinations and publications as well as institutionalization and internationalization of graduate training and research.

Cognizant of the required outputs, the participants constituted a Committee consisting of nine (9) members to synthesize the ideas raised during the retreat within a period of three (3) weeks. The Members include: Dr. Kakungulu Mayambala, Dr. Paul Kibwika, Dr. Yazidhi Bamutaze, Dr. Susan Kiwanuka, Mrs. Patience Mushengyezi, Dr. Vincent Bagire, Dr. Stephen Wandera, Mr. Patrick Feni and Dr. Ivan Muzira.

Mr. Patrick Feni (L) and Dr. Stephen Wandera (R) deliberate during the review workshop

On receipt of the Report from the Committee, DRGT will organize a half-day engagement with stakeholders to review the proceedings.

Closing the retreat, the Convener, Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza said: “Personally, I feel empowered because I am carrying a voice from you stakeholders who have participated in this three day retreat, organized by DRGT with funding from Makerere University supplemented by CARTA. I thank my colleague, Dr. Owiny for ensuring that we access funds from CARTA. I also applaud the Facilitator-Dr. Paul Kibwika for the excellent moderation.”

Article by Public Relations Office

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