Exporting higher education management studies to Uganda

University of Tampere exports higher education studies from Finland to Uganda. Lecturer Ronald Bisaso (left), University Instructor Elias Pekkola, Professor Seppo Hölttä, Dean Peter Neema-Abooki and Professor Turo Virtanen are in the yard of Makerere University.

University of Tampere exports higher education studies from Finland to Uganda. Lecturer Ronald Bisaso (left), University Instructor Elias Pekkola, Professor Seppo Hölttä, Dean Peter Neema-Abooki and Professor Turo Virtanen are in the yard of Makerere University.

The School of Management at the University of Tampere is engaged in long-term cooperation with two Ugandan higher education institutions. These projects are funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland. The Administration and Management of Higher Education (KOHA) study programme, offered as continuing education at Tampere, has been adapted into the curricula of the Ugandan Management Institute.

The next step after the Building Institutional Capacity for Training Leadership and Management of Ugandan Universities (LMUU) project, which has already concluded, is to design an independent Master’s degree programme for Makerere University in a follow-up project called LMUU II.

Being so inspired by KOHA studies, I decided to apply to the Master’s Degree Programme in Higher Education Administration and Management – and thanks to its great international contacts, I took the opportunity to do an internship period in Uganda. I already had a few years’ experience in international and national project management from the University of Tampere, so working abroad was a good chance to improve my administrational skills in an international environment.

One of my first tasks was to give lectures at the evening classes of the local students of the PGD-HELM (Post-graduate Diploma in Higher Education Leadership and Management) module. The course dealt with the internationalisation of higher education, and the main topic was the Bologna process and its effects in Europe and especially in Finland. The students were particularly interested in quality assurance work, the introduction of ECTS and the two-cycle degree system, but what they really thought strange was that higher education is free in Finland – and that despite their public funding, Finnish universities are independent organisations.

Most of the students were teachers at different levels of education. Besides those from Uganda, students came from Nigeria, Tanzania and Sudan and other African countries. The low price level has made Uganda an attractive destination for international students, who mainly come from the eastern part of Africa. Currently, there are more than thirty higher education institutions in the country, most of them private universities. Makerere University, for example, is a state institution, but only about five per cent of its funding comes from public sources and the rest is mainly covered by tuition fees.

The PDG-HELM students gave case-presentations on the internationalisation of Ugandan higher education institutions. Quality assurance mechanisms, harmonisation of higher education, strategic planning and the development of know-how were seen as important issues in the internationalisation process. Of course, good practices do already exist: for example, the Kampala International University (KIU) is the national pioneer in cross-border education. Besides Uganda, KIU has units in Tanzania and Kenya.

Students of the first PGD-HELM course officially graduated in March 2014. On the last day of studies, the small group was sad that the joint evening classes were over. They were eager to continue the discussion on issues of higher education administration and management, which are considered to be essential in the sustainable development of the country.

The students were thinking how they would be able to contribute to the development work in the future. Spontaneously, they came up with the idea of founding a national organisation that would develop common goals and create a wider debate on issues related to higher education in Africa. The cooperation between Ugandan and South African partners and the universities of Tampere and Helsinki will certainly continue in the LMUU II project, after which there will be a Master’s degree programme in higher education studies at Makerere University: the programme will undoubtedly be very popular among the students.

Text and photograph by Maria Salomaa

The University of Tampere can export extension studies, study modules and made-to-order educational services.

For further information please contact
Ms Mirka Gustafsson
Coordinator of Education Export
mirka.gustafsson@uta.fi
tel. +358 40 190 4087