LIV setting tone for development
By Daniel Edyegu
Right from the spot close to the gate to the extreme end of the vast new campus, workers are engaged in activity. What started as a dream in 2005, is slowly taking shape.
The constructors, like sculptors, are converging efforts to build the first private university in Budaka district and Bukedi sub-region — LivingStone International University (LIU). The breaking of the ground to build the new home to the university was held at a ceremony last Tuesday at Nyanza South zone in Mugiti sub-county, Budaka district.
The works were done by Excel Construction, a leading construction company with over 22 years of experience in construction works. The function was presided over by local government state minister, Jennifer Namuyangu. Budaka district LC5 chairperson Sam Mulomi and the Iki Iki county MP, Robert Kasolo, graced the function.
Prof. Richard Trull, the university vice-chancellor, explains that the construction of the new campus, whose projected cost is more than $20m (about sh68b), will be done in phases on the 50- acre piece of land.
“These are broken down to phase one A and phase one B. One A consists of four sections of the campus, including the new gate and security booth, one block of three buildings on the right that will house the women’s hostel, the ablution block building with the laundry, the building with classrooms, computer labs and administrative offices. In between these two blocks will be the pavilion for over 600 students, cafeteria and kitchen. Below the pavilion will be a football pitch,” he says.
“Phase one B will be building of administrative offices and classrooms. This will more than double the size of the campus to accommodate over 650 students. Our goal is to establish facilities that can accommodate more that 4,000 students,” Trull adds. According to the architectural plan, the new spacious campus will have volleyball and basketball courts.
A bigger campus with greater possibilities
Considering that student enrolment at the university, currently operating in Namakwekwe ward, Mbale town, is steadily rising due to the quality academic services rendered, Trull says the construction and subsequent relocation to the new home is inevitable.
“The university opened doors to its first class of students in January 12, 2012. This semester, we have surpassed our projection of 220 students. A total of 102 first-year students enrolled, bringing the number of students to 232.
Our temporary campus is now filled to capacity. Ideally, we would like the new campus ready for students by August 2017. That means we need to complete phase one A by then,” Trull explains. Namuyangu pledged the Government’s support towards the scheme. She says LivingStone International University opens a wide door of opportunities to the district and nation as a whole.
“We now have the opportunity to have quality education at a minimal cost. Communities around can build hostels and sell any items to the university to stir socio-economic growth. So any time, be ready to see us around the site on impromptu supervision of the construction works to ensure everything goes according to plan,” Namuyangu observed.
At present, the university offers diploma and undergraduate degree courses in communications and media technology, business administration, Christian ministry and education and information technology.
The university plans to add more programmes, especially in sciences in alignment with the current government education focus. In the contemporary world where many university students come out half-baked, LIU products are already creating a mark in the job market.
Over 83% of the students who have graduated from the university are employed, according to a recent study done by the university to track its progress. Lydia Kansiime, a graduate of bachelor’s of science in communication and media technology, got a job with a media consultancy firm immediately after graduating.
“We were five applicants doing a job interview. We were given a computer tablet to use. Among the five, I was the only one who could use the device. I was employed as a research assistant. I have just done another interview with the same firm for the position of assistant manager, which I believe I will get,” Kansiime says.
Musa Tavuga, a third-year student of bachelor of science in communication and media technology, likes LIU due to what he terms as “personal touch”. “Due to our manageable number, we interact with our lecturers one-on-one,” Tavuga says. For Moreen Mukite, a bachelor’s of business administration student, and guild vice-president of the university, her decision to join LIU was built on its Christian foundation and peaceful environment.
But Mukite says she has achieved on more fronts than she had expected. “In academics, for instance, we receive quality knowledge. Each of us is availed with a Kindle when we join the university so we are able to download books and get notes. The Kindle equally eases research.
In fact, during my internship at Industrial Division in Mbale municipality, I emerged the best student among students from all other institutions,” Mukite says. “We face a challenge because the current campus is small. Our football field is about half the normal pitch. The basketball court is so close to the volleyball court.
So at times it is difficult to play the two games concurrently due to interruptions. Often, we have to hire a football field or seek permission from surrounding schools when we are playing competitive games. The new campus will have spacious extra curricular facilities for us,” Mukite says. Chris Masakala, the dean business department, explains that with the university targeting to increase its enrolment and courses, having a new campus in Budaka district is an appropriate growth strategy.
According to Patrick Chebet, the academic registrar LIU, the university is currently doing a survey to ascertain the viable courses it can introduce. “The needs assessment is on to find out what the community requires. “But the obvious courses on the checklist are bachelor of agro-business, nursing and bachelor’s of education for long distance learners already in service.
Our main goal is to raise both skilled and spiritually nurtured persons,” Chebet observes. LivingStone is taken from 1 Peter 2:4 in the Bible. A Christbuilt foundation, the ‘personal touch’ in learning, plus the modern technology is slowly propelling LIU to great heights