By Francis Kagolo
The Private Sector has been urged to earmark a portion of their profits to financing research and other activities at universities.
Prof. Mayunga H.H. Nkunya, the Inter-University Council of east Africa (IUCEA) executive secretary, believes that this would improve the quality of higher education to produce better skilled and innovative graduates that can spur economic growth.
“We want to ensure that the role of financing university education is not left to Governments only. Other players ought to come on board,” said Prof. Nkunya.
“In all the five east African states, the private sector is not directly involved in financing higher education yet they are the direct beneficiaries of university research outputs and skilled graduates.”
Nkunya said the business Community would benefit more from better trained graduates if universities receive more funds to improve the quality of teaching.
He cited Germany and Singapore where close to 70% of university research funds come from the private sector.
Prof. Nkunya made the call during a press conference at the IUCEA secretariat in Kampala on Thursday.
He was briefing the media about the forthcoming regional higher education forum scheduled to take place from October 24, to October 26, in Arusha, Tanzania.
IUCEA is an organ of the East African Community charged with coordinating and supporting the development of higher education in the region.
Prof. Nkunya said the Arusha conference is aimed at devising measures how universities can partner with the private sector to improve the quality of higher education in the region.
Besides education officials, the conference will be attended by businessmen from across the region.
The conference will run under the theme: “Linking universities to Industry for Building Knowledge-based Economies and Regional integration in East Africa.”
Moses Ogwal of the Private Sector Foundation (PSFU) welcomed Nkunya’s proposal, saying they would realise more profits if they collaborated with universities to improve the quality of higher education.
“As a businessman, you need skilled and innovative manpower to operate efficiently. To get to this level, you require quality education,” Ogwal said.
Meanwhile, Nkunya revealed that the Council was working on modalities of setting standard tuition fees applicable at a regional level and based on the unit cost.
“The disparity in tuition fees is not favouring fair exchange of students within the member states. Students prefer going to universities where tuition is cheaper,” Nkunya explained.
“To avert this, we are going to set fees structures which, although may differ from country to country, will reflect the cost of living.”
Nkunya asked member states to adopt the fees structure when it is finalised, in order to enhance the spirit of integration.