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Education

EXCLUSIVE: Inside Prof Baryamureeba’s Giant Dream to Transform Makerere University

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Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba

June 15, ask 2017 will go deep down in the annals of Makerere’s University history as the day when intellectual giants faced off in what could be the toughest race for the position of Vice Chancellor.

Three contenders for the coveted position are UTAMU founder Prof Venansius Baryamureeba, Prof Edward Kirumira who heads the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and Prof Barnabus Nawangwe – the current Vice Chancellor in charge of finance and administration.

Each candidate had 20 minutes to make his case before a fully-packed hall that attracted the media, university students and the general public.

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The most striking presentation came from Prof Baryamureeba who served in the same position before being toppled in favour of Prof Ddumba Ssentamu.

Barya, as he fondly known, would later start UTAMU.

His return for the Vice Chancellor race has raised hopes that the University currently grappling with consistent financial challenges, violent strikes, abuse of resources and corruption could get a fresh breath of life.

“Makerere has strategic resources. It is possible to transform Makerere University into a world-class self-sustaining University,” said Barya, adding, “For me, the next five years are opening a new chapter in building Makerere University for the future – a future we can be proud of. A future that the generations after us will be happy to associate with.”

Does Barya have the capacity to realise this dream? Let’s look at his record.

During his time at Makerere, he mobilised funds for the construction of the Institute of Computer Science Building from NORAD.

He would later start the Faculty of Computing and IT and spearheaded the staff and curriculum development projects with support of donors.

He also put in place teaching, research and innovation facilities; increased student enrollment; revenues from grants rose and also made strategic collaborations with foreign funders.

It was during Barya’s time as Vice Chancellor that students were able to receive transcripts before graduation and certificates on graduation day.

Barya went ahead to automate student services such as registration and fees payment and improved lead time for academic staff promotions.

Over 200 Memorandums of Understanding were signed from January 2010 to August 2012 by Barya’s administration that led to increased partnerships with the private sector and government.

Interestingly, due to increased peer reviewed journal and book publications during his tenor, Makerere was ranked 8th in Africa and 6th in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2012 by online research assessment tools.

Unfortunately this has recently gone down to 17th in 2017 (source: http://www.4icu.org/top-universities-africa/ ).

Armed with this impressive record, Barya believes he has potential to take the University to greater heights.

In his presentation, Barya said he intended to implement a fully-fledged semesterised system and empower the university to run day, evening, distance, weekend and block release programs.

In simple terms, a semester-based system (semesterisation) is one where modules can be wholly taught and assessed in a single teaching period.

The advantages of providing for an examination period at the end of both current teaching periods include giving students and programme coordinators better knowledge of student progress in their studies.

This usually has a positive impact on student retention and leads to greater distribution of the student workload throughout the academic year.

Barya also intends to put in place an ICT-enabled service delivery system including e-learning; full automation of University Library and ensure efficient and effective access to university services.

He also wants Makerere services to ISO 9001 Certified; establish Makerere University customer service charter and service appraisal mechanisms.

Barya pledged to refurbish, upgrade and setup new teaching and learning infrastructure; increase teaching and instructional materials budget every year until it reaches 20 percent of the total University budget and periodically review academic programmes.

He further revealed plans to mainstreaming open, distance, e-learning and m-learning hence introducing tele-education approaches in academic programmes.

Barya said in his presentation that once appointed Vice Chancellor, he would conduct regular refresher courses in learner centered pedagogy and andragogy methods and e-learning for staff.

He also plans to increase the proportion of graduate students to 30 percent of total enrollment.

Some of the other targets are putting in place; a University/ College research and innovations agenda by 2018; Makerere research and innovations dissemination strategy by 2018; and an Annual University/college research and innovations awards.

Barya also wants each college to host an international journal, an annual international conference, and Annual Open Day by 2018.

To improve the research environment, coordination and management, Barya hopes to realise a fully functional grants office in each college by 2018.

He also wants University wide Research Centers/ institutes established for inter-disciplinary (research) engagements.

It’s also in Barya’s agenda to entrench the original 10 Constituent Colleges; devolve the academic, financial, administration and Human Resource affairs to colleges as per college statute.

He also wants the Colleges to agree on revenue sharing model (percentage) for example 50 percent of tuition, research overheads, service fees remains at colleges and also provide equalization grants to dry units.

Barya said he would fully operationalise a college grants office; strengthen systems and structures at colleges.

Investment

It’s understood that no revenue has been obtained from Makerere’s investments in the last few years .

Only about Shs 2.5bn was obtained from short courses, a potential cash cow at every college.

Barya said a general under-performance in revenue collection was observed by the Auditor General. This affects the ability of the university to implement its approved work plans.

How will Barya increase revenue since several revenue shortfalls and over expenditures have been seen in the statements?

He called for the strengthening of the budget formulation process for more accurate projections in revenue and expenditure; right from college level and other cost centres.

62.2 percent of total expenditure is on Employee costs, underscoring the need to prioritize expenditure on development as well.

Barya said he would increase university revenue by 25 percent for every year he would be in office; implement the investment strategy of the University; develop idle land for commercial and education purposes and fully operationalise Makerere University Holding Company and endowment Fund and increase enrollment on short courses and academic programmes.

Barya’s forecast shows Makerere open campus’ e-learning and distance students hitting 100,000 by 2022.

He also plans to adopt Open Financial Governance with quarterly reporting accessible online.

In regard to addressing corruption, Barya said he would establish budget performance monitoring and evaluation structures and systems hence tightening financial controls.

Barya want to optimise use of ICT such as implementing paperless offices/boards at Makerere; outsource non-core functions and diversify Makerere revenue source base from student fees and government subvention to include: investment income; research overheads; consultancy fees; service fees; gifts and donations.

Barya said he intends to improve the relationship with Government, ministry of education and engage parliament for mutual benefits.

He also plans to lobby for a government policy to pay for every PhD completion and research publication produced.

In Partnership with government, Barya wants to establish a National Remote Sensing Centre:  Satellite Ground Station; Data processing laboratories; and Space Academy ($30m) which have been pending.

He also dreams of a National Cyber Security Centre and National Knowledge and Technologies Centre.

By linking Makerere startups with Industry and venture capitalists including those in Silicon Valley, Barya hopes that at least USD 1 billion of Makerere equity/ shares in startups/ companies will be registered by 2022.

He also plans to develop Makerere land via mortgages, PPP, BOT arrangements and engage services of a property management firm like Knight and Frank .

Barya is looking at expanding management to include Principals and M3-Directors; ensure performance management is entrenched; and establish the balanced score card i.e. 360 appraisal tools and Unit Self-assessment reports.

He said infrastructural maintenance/ development will become mandatory budget item with 10 percent of budget allocations, a move that could see the rotting structures getting an overhaul.

He also wants to review Makerere University investment plan that will lead to strategic infrastructure development such as establishing the College of Health Sciences Teaching Hospital in Katalemwa, the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in Kabanyolo, and The College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Bio-Security at Buyana Stock Farm.

He also wants to establish more shared infrastructure for Lecture rooms, Labs, seminar rooms like in the ADB V funded buildings.

Other plans in Barya’s mind include improving the working environment including offices; implementing the Medical Insurance Scheme; putting in place a staff housing scheme; supporting efforts for a living wage; equitable promotions among others.

Contracts

He said Professors and Assistant Professors should be given 4-5 year contracts up to 80 years, giving the example of Ali Mazrui who is 81.

He wants Senior Lecturers to be handed 3-5 year contracts up to 75 years of age.

Barya plans to retain high profile professors like former Vice Chancellors and Deputy Vice Chancellors on special terms to raise profile of the University and use them to mobilise grants and donations.

Students’ welfare

Barya also wants the university to implement a flexible fees payment system; continue to improve the internship program; revamp student sanitary facilities and halls of residence and construct a student centre.

Barya further intends to improve security in off-campus hostels and on campus (CCTV cameras, perimeter wall); promote student and staff exchange programs and put in place affordable accommodation for exchange students and staff.

He also plans to revamp students’ sporting facilities with state of the art equipment; support students to participate in inter-university games and other games; set up student support systems; revamp and establish social amenities, facilities, remedial support, career guidance, mentorship to enhance social development of students.

“We must do away with student strikes,” he said.

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