The historic pronouncement by the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe that all Makerere University graduates were to receive their academic transcripts on the graduation day signals the re-birth of a renowned academic giant. But it begs belief as to how much more needs to be done to completely redeem the image of the once described Harvard of Africa. On the surface, Makerere University continues to rank among top universities in Uganda, Africa and internationally.
According to the Ranking web of Universities July 2017, the university was ranked number one in Uganda ahead of 44 other universities. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2016, placed Makerere University fourth best in Africa and the only university outside South Africa to make it among the top five. Internationally ranking web of universities 2016 placed it in 1,486th position, pitiable but not when you consider that the last ranked university was at 27,764.
The parameters for ranking are highly cited research from a given university, a strong international out-look and ability to attract huge funding from industry. Sadly, the prowess of Makerere University largely seems to be academic ranking that heavily relies on research out-put of lecturers reflected in online publications and the numerous research collaboration projects.
Apart from addressing pertinent issues such as lecturer to student ratio, sex for marks, improving teaching and learning, infrastructure, instructional materials and equipment, marking system, upgraded salary structure and a host of other requisites. I pray and hope that students, who complete their exams will not have to wait donkey years before graduation, which leads to lost opportunities for scholarships, joining universities abroad or losing out on job offers.
Most recently, I was astonished during conversations with my two daughters at Makerere University and UCU to realise that although the latter and elder is doing a four-year Electrical Engineering Programme and started a year earlier, the former, who is pursuing a three-year Mass Communication degree Programme, will graduate much earlier simply because of UCU’s efficiency in examination administration, marking, grading and graduation arrangements. While my Electrical Engineering daughter will complete exams in May 2018. She expects results to be out in October 2018 and start pursuing marks and clearing till about December 16, 2018.
Even if she passed all exams and had no retake, graduation is expected in January 2019! In sharp contrast, my UCU daughter expects to do her final exams in August, thereafter be assessed and if she passes, graduate in October 2018, ready to march into the job market. The rebirth of Makerere University under Prof Nuwangwe is a welcome development but a lot is desired if academic ranking is to be commensurate with effective service delivery. Only then will Makerere merit the fulfilment of the stanza in their anthem “we build for the future, the great Makerere”.
Rt Rev Dr Fred Sheldon Mwesigwa