BY DOUGLAS OLUM
A Chinese university in the capital Beijing is seeking to partner with Uganda Christian University (UCU) in research, technological incubation and capacity development.
Officials from Tsinghua University led by Uganda’s Deputy Ambassador to China, Henry Mayega, approached UCU administrators on Monday October 1 to ask for the partnership.
In a meeting held in the Principal’s Hall at UCU main campus in Mukono, and attended by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr John Senyonyi, his two deputies and the deans of faculties, he asked Tsinghua to avail UCU with their draft Memorandum of Understanding in order to help it take an informed decision on the matter.
Associate Prof Jianguo Chen of the Department of Engineering Physics in the Institute of Public Safety Research who headed the Chinese team told The Standard in an interview that their visit to UCU was to seek for an opportunity to build a mutual partnership with the university.
Chen said they were pleased by the reception and hoped that the visit would pave way for a long relationship between the two universities and see them hold students and staff exchange programmes, carry out joint research and also support technological development for the benefit of both sides.
In his remarks, Ambassador Henry Mayega told The Standard that when he was approached by the officials from Tsinghua, he felt that it was important to connect them to reputable local universities such as UCU and Makerere so that Ugandan students could benefit.
“This university is the best in China and was recently ranked 22 worldwide. Basing on their reputation and ability to promote public safety, fight crime and also control traffic using technology, I found it important to help them find collaboration with our local universities in order to facilitate technological transfer from China to Uganda,” Mayega said, adding that he was glad the two universities agreed to work with each other.
“The meeting has been very successful as the two universities have agreed to work with each other. I hope this partnership will go a long way and be of great benefit to UCU,” he said.
Meanwhile David Mugawe, the UCU Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Development and External Relations, said the request for partnership is “a great opportunity for us to partner with the best university not only in China but the entire Asia.”
Mugawe said the partnership will grant UCU an opportunity to exchange staff and students with Tsinghua University, partner in research, develop mutual understanding for incubation and technological development, and venture into public safety training which is still a new thing in Uganda.
During the meeting, the Tsinghua team shared with UCU a template of their MoU for revision.
If found acceptable, Dr Senyonyi said they would sign it within the shortest possible time to set the partnership in motion.
It is not yet clear which department and faculties will first benefit from the partnership should it be signed because the team did not specify their area of interest. But Dr Senyonyi said they would involve all departments and faculties in the discussion. He said the first beneficiaries would be those that respond on time.
Between 2014 – July 2018, UCU benefitted from such partnership with NLA University in Norway and the University of Kwazulu-Natal of South Africa under the Norwegian Programme for Capacity Development in Higher Education and Research (NORHED).
Under the programme, the then Department of Mass Communication, now the Faculty of Journalism, Media and Communication, had six of its staff train at master’s level, five at doctoral level and one at post-doctoral level. The capacity development has helped the department graduate into a faculty.