By Conan Businge & Ssebide Kiryowa
KAMPALA - Business mogul Sudhir Ruparelia has taken over ownership of Victoria University from Edulink Holdings Limited.
Sudhir, who was reluctant to disclose the amount of money involved, said the university was the latest entity under Ruparelia Group of Companies.
“It is not the amount of money we have invested to buy the institution that is important; it is what we intend to do with it. I plan to invest about $10m (about sh26bn) in this process in the next few years, to give this university a new strong identity,” he said.
He went on to clarify he is buying the institution and not the building.
The university’s main campus had hitherto been located at 54B Kira Road, in Kamwokya suburbs. By Wednesday evening, the tycoon started relocating the university property to his newly refurbished Eagen Mansion on Plot 1/13, on Jinja Road opposite Social Security House.
Much as he refrained from commenting about the new owners of the university, Prof. Opuda Asibo who is the head of the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), when contacted, said he expects the university to remain operating normally.
Sudhir assured that the changes would not disrupt the operations of the university and said they are open for business this September.
He explained that he will also be taking on the continuing students who have been using the local curriculum, the staff and all its assets.
“We are starting with the current 50 continuing students who are doing degree courses in nursing and public administration.
“However, we are going to embark on aggressive marketing of the entire repertoire of our programmes in all academic disciplines and hope to enroll students in big numbers for the January intake,” he said.
Within a few years, he expects the university to grow into a state-of-the-art institution with over 10,000 students, at which point he will move it from Eagen Mason to former Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) headquarters in Kitante, on Yusuf Lule Road where he owns 6.2 hectares of land.
The land was leased to Sudhir’s Speke Group by Uganda Land Commission on October 31, 2006 to build a shopping mall and a five-star hotel. He has since confirmed he is going to build a modern hospital and other facilities.
The acquisition of Victoria University adds to his multi-million dollar investments in education that include Kampala Parents School and Kampala International School of Uganda (KISU).
Former Premier Apolo Nsibambi on Tuesday also confirmed that Sudhir had bought the university and that he took over ownership, with effect from September 1, this year.
He added that he has handed over the office of the Chancellor to the new management.
Victoria University-Uganda was established in 2011 by Edulink Holdings Limited, a private company that invests internationally in tertiary institutions of higher education.
The university was initially affiliated with the University of Buckingham (UB), UK which awards the majority of degrees offered at Victoria. However, it had two other courses independent of UB.
Victoria was collaborating for over a year, with majority of its students offering UB courses.
However the partnership ended early this year, after UB asked Victoria to include a clause in its statue stating that 'no person will be discriminated on the basis of sex orientation,' among others.
As a result, Victoria suspended all UB courses and remained with only the Bachelors of Public Health and Nursing.
Sudhir has explained that his management will not pursue the flopped collaboration .
“'For now we shall concentrate on the two local courses that are relevant for the job market and country’s development needs. After we have built a strong local base, we will then look into the possibility affiliation with a foreign university and having more courses.”