By Faustine Odeke
Government has secured a total of US$105m [about sh268b] from the African Development Bank to expand and improve five operational public universities, two degree awarding institutions and another new one.
The Minister of education, Jessica Alupo, said the benefiting institutions include Makerere University (sh70b), Uganda Management Institute (sh12.5b), Makerere University Business Institute (sh12.5b), Kyambogo University(sh67b), Mbarara University of science and technology (shs33b), Gulu University(sh32b), Busitema University(sh32b) and Muni University (sh9b).
Alupo said the project will be launched at Busitema University on October 13 by President Museveni in recognition of the good work so far registered by the institution.
Alupo made the revelation in a speech read for her by the University Vice Chancellor, Prof Mary Okwakol during the 4th graduation ceremony held at Busitema main campus on Thursday.
A total of 667 students, 22% them ladies were conferred degrees, diplomas and certificates including the successful students of the former Arapai Agricultural College in various science and technological disciplines.
Among the grandaunts were also the pioneer students in textile engineering, animal production and management and natural resources economics programs.
The university also awarded for the first time diplomas in animal production and management; and crop production and management as well as certificates in general agriculture.
"I wish to congratulate and thank the University for organising the first development partners and stakeholders' conference whose main objective was to mobilise funds for the university. I encourage universities to put in place strategies for raising extra funds. Do not rely on government subvention and tuition fees from students.
Think of other avenues of raising extra resources. Engage private sector and I am sure this university stands to benefit from partnership" Alupo said.
Alupo said she was glad to note that the number of female engineers and scientists graduating at the university was steadily increasing.
She advised the ladies to go out empowered and read to compete with men for the limited opportunities.
The University Chancellor, Prof Francis Omaswa, said for the university to create significant impact in the society it needs to be supported to put in place the necessary infrastructure and appropriate human capital.
"I'm therefore calling upon all stakeholders including individuals to extend a hand of support to this university. I thank government for the support being extended to the university and I look forward to the continued leadership, guidance and more support from government.
In the same breath, I would like to encourage the university council and administration to explore all possible ways of increasing internally generated funds. All the universities that I know abroad have strong financial foundations of their own and do not depend on handouts from government or other benefactors only," Omaswa said.
Omaswa said this can be done by embedding some of the income generation into core functions of the university such as research partnerships, service delivery and indeed also innovative teaching arrangements.
He advised the grandaunts to diversify their knowledge and skill base because competition today and tomorrow favors those.
However Vice Chancellor Prof. Mary Okwakol requested government to increase funding, considering that the university exists and planned programmes and activities are aligned with the national development plan and require heavy investments.
She said the current support given by government will go towards, among other things, infrastructure development in Busitema and Nagongera campuses. She requested government to secure more funding to upgrade the rest of the campuses.
She said the university has completed the development of the master plan for the Busitema main campus and efforts are underway to develop master plans for other operational campuses that include Nagongera, Namasagali, Arapai and Mbale.