Prof Dawoud Shenouda is the Vice Chancellor of the International University of East Africa (IUEA), based at Kansanga, Kampala.
He talked to John Musinguzi about what distinguishes their university.
Uganda has many universities already: what do you think you are going to offer that is different?
The IUEA will differentiate itself by offering high-quality services to the students. Secondly, by offering programmes that compete at the international level. The first step towards that is to have programmes with structures that follow the international requirements for any programmes to be internationally recognised.
For example, the international accreditation organizations put a format for any engineering programme that will be accredited internationally. It must consist of a mix of: Basic Science (e.g. Mathematics, Physics, etc.), Applied Engineering courses (E.g. Engineering Drawing, Electric, Mechanical, etc.), Humanities courses, and Specialized courses.
Our engineering programmes are following this format with the percentage needed. We are also offering new programmes that are unique in the region.
We are introducing for the first time in the region a new degree, Mechatronics and Robotics Engineering, and for the first time in Africa we are introducing a degree in “Mobile and Satellite Communication.”
Why the name International University of East Africa?
The name carries the facts: We are targeting offering internationally-accredited programmes, affiliated to international universities, and our students are international students.
What do you see as the biggest challenges facing higher education in Uganda?
It is actually the same challenges that face many African countries, not only Uganda. One is the resources, especially human resources (qualified staff) and education services facilities which include laboratories, classrooms, etc.
The education process is a combination of high-quality programmes, qualified staff, educational facilities and students. Any shortage in any one of the four components represents a challenge.
How do you plan to beat those challenges?
Let us start with students. To have highly-qualified graduates, we must start with high-quality students. This means to have the best of the A-level students. This is not necessarily available, as a number, in the students applying to join the university. So, we introduced the ‘Foundation programme’ to solve this challenge.
Concerning laboratories, we have a very ambitious plan that we have already started: we got a complete plan from a German company to establish laboratories for five of our programmes. It will cost us over $350,000. The university has ordered for the first phase. We hope the rest will be completed within six months.
Concerning the staff, we are facing this challenge through increasing the percentage of the staff holding PhDs and by increasing the number of the full-time staff hoping to have 70% of our staff full-time and at least half of it with PhD.
Concerning the programmes and infrastructure, I feel that IUEA is not facing any of such challenges.
How do your fees compare with those of other universities here? We hear you are very expensive.
Our fees are not that expensive compared with others. I am sure there are some universities with much higher fees. The fees also cover a free laptop and 24 hours of free internet. During the last two years, we introduced a bursary scheme that allows students to have up to 40% discount.
Starting this year, we are introducing a unique scheme that gives the Ugandan students 40% discount for four years, i.e. till he/she completes the degree.This new scheme will make our fees, especially for Ugandan students, less than many other universities’.
What unique courses do you offer and why?
We are introducing two new unique programmes: BSc in Mechatronics and Robotics Engineering and BSc in Mobile and Satellite Communication. The latter is in line with Uganda’s Vision 2040. We are targeting Uganda to be an IT hub in the region.
How many intakes do you have per year?
We have three intakes a year. The main intake is August, followed by January. The third intake in May is specifically an evening programme.
Any last word?
I want to tell students who completed A-level this year that selecting IUEA as your university means you are selecting a university that gives you a warm family feeling besides the best education that will qualify you to work anywhere in the world.