The College of Humanities and Social Sciences with support from the Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs (DVCAA) held a seminar on 21st June 2018 to discuss strategies to further re-engineer and strengthen graduate training and the supervisory function in the College.
The seminar was held at Kampala Kolping Hotel and was attended by among others, the DVCAA, Dr Ernest Okello Ogwang, the Deputy Director, Directorate of Research and Graduate Training, Dr David Okello Owiny, the Principal, Deputy Principal, Deans and coordinators of graduate programmes in the College. It was coordinated by Dr Edgar Nabutanyi from the Department of Literature.
At the meeting, Dr David Okello Owiny briefed participants on the policies and processes of managing graduate training at Makerere University (copy of his presentation attached).
In a bid to improve graduate training at College level, participants pointed out the need to motivate and empower administrative structures to effectively perform their supervisory role. They also called for streamlining of information flow between the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training and College Units, sensitization of graduate students on the policies and requirements of their respective programmes, and harmonization of graduate processes.
Participants emphasized the need to prioritize payment of external examiners. “External examining is extremely important for ensuring quality. The University Management should therefore consider prioritizing payment of external examiners to avoid jeopardizing the quality of our programmes.”
Participants called for the establishment of a centre to help graduate students improve their reading and writing skills.
They further appealed to the University Management to increase investment in graduate training and research. “The quality of scholarship depends on the quality of investment in training and research. The University should consider increasing investment in graduate training. Self sponsorship has a negative effect on the quality of students.”
Prof. Dominic Dipio from the Department of Literature called for the revision of the criteria of admission to graduate programmes. “Applicants should be subjected to interviews to ensure we select quality students. The Department of Literature does this and at one point we had to suspend admission because the applicants were not matching the required standards,” she noted. She emphasized the importance of inter-disciplinarity and scholarly engagements. “The relationship between supervisors and students should be cordial. We need to establish forums through which we can meet regularly. It is also important that when a student does interdisciplinary research, the doctoral committee is expanded to include members beyond his/her Unit.”
In his remarks, Dr Julius Kikooma, Dean School of Psychology argued for the expansion of teaching and learning avenues. “Graduate trainers should exploit other avenues of teaching like e-learning,” he said. He appealed to the University Management to give priority to graduate training. “There is need to strike a balance between undergraduate and graduate training. Over concentrating on undergraduate teaching undermines the quality of graduate programmes.”
Commenting on the management of graduate programmes, Prof. Peter Atekyereza, Head Department of Sociology and Anthropology said there is need to borrow a leaf from the pre-collegiate system. “Centralization of funding affects the operations of colleges and subsequently the management of graduate programmes,” he noted.
Ms. Lilian Kaggwa, Administrative Assistant, School of Liberal and Performing Arts appealed to supervisors to act as counselors noting that most students are ignorant of the procedures of graduate training and management.
Addressing participants, the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs, Dr Ernest Okello Ogwang said graduate training should be invigorated in terms of translating to practice to benefit society in more tangible ways. “We need to ensure that the policies and processes of graduate training are suitable for the current global academic terrain, especially in the humanities and social sciences,” he said.
Sharing his experience of graduate training and management in the College, Prof. Abasi Kiyimba said there is need to set up a standard procedure for dissertation writing and regulations that call supervisors to order. He also noted that it is important to scrutinize the CVs of external examiners. He urged schools to develop graduate handbooks that address matters specific to graduate functions.
The Principal of CHUSS, Prof. Edward K. Kirumira, promised more support towards such engagements aimed at improving graduate training. “We should be able fund such engagements at least twice a year to discuss and set up new strategies of improving our programmes.”
The Deputy Principal, Dr Josephine Ahikire, underscored the importance of streamlining structures to improve the management of graduate programmes. “We need to make our systems work better. Such seminars are an opportunity for us to reorganize our systems to effectively manage our programmes,” she said.