Makerere University Management has earmarked over UGX400,000,000 to revamp the institution’s research journal. This was revealed by the Director of Research and Graduate Training (DRGT) at Makerere University, Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi at the CHUSS supervisors retooling seminar held at Grand Global Hotel in Kampala on 5th-6th September, 2018. According to Prof. Buyinza, the journal is meant to among other issues address some of the unique publication challenges experienced by members of staff at Makerere University.
Commenting on the supervisory function, Prof. Buyinza reiterated the need to strengthen doctoral committees to effectively perform their oversight role. “Doctoral Committees are clearing houses and are supposed to monitor progress of students yet they aren’t taking route in this University. There is urgent need to reorganize these committees to effectively serve their intended purpose,” he noted. Prof. Buyinza appealed to supervisors to be impartial and create a conducive working environment for students. “In addition to the academic function, supervisors should serve as mentors and should maintain a cordial working relationship with students,” he said. He called on supervisors to keep abreast with the current trends in their disciplines as a way of adding value to students’ work.
Prof. Buyinza commended CHUSS Management for its continued efforts towards improving graduate training.
During the workshop, the Deputy Director of Research and Graduate Training, Dr David Owiny briefed supervisors on the policies and processes of managing graduate training at Makerere University. He underscored the need to increase the number of graduate students if Makerere is to become a research-led university. Currently the number of graduate students at Makerere University stands at 7%. Responding to infrastructural challenges, Dr Owiny said the Directorate had requested Senate and the University Council to allocate space to graduate students in the new central teaching facilities.
Other facilitators included Prof. Edward Wamala, Prof. Peter Atekyereza, Prof. Abasi Kiyimba and Dr Julius Kikooma.
Sharing his experience of graduate training management at CHUSS, Prof. Kiyimba implored supervisors to always create time for students and learn to manage different opinions. Like Prof. buyinza, he urged supervisors to always update themselves with the current trends in their disciplines and to ensure they understand the subject of the supervisees before making comments.
Prof. Edward Wamala briefed participants on the different models of PhD supervision whereas Dr Kikooma explained the importance of mentorship in supervision. Dr Kikooma noted that mentorship contributes to doctoral students’ sense of competence, confidence and effectiveness. “Sharing early experiences in dealing with the frustration and challenges of conducting academic research can help students persevere and develop resilience,” he advised.
In his remarks, Prof. Atekyereza appealed to supervisors to always develop study plans and “allow students be students”. “Supervisors must understand and learn to appreciate students’ strengths, weaknesses and challenges in the course of the exercise.”
Participants also discussed the cohort model of PhD training highlighting several benefits and challenges that require urgent attention. They observed that the model allows students to support each other by sharing experiences encountered with different supervisors. They however noted that supervisors may find it hard to fit in the model given that they just contribute to a pool yet they may want to take full charge of the students they are supervising.
Addressing participants, the Deputy Principal, Dr Josephine Ahikire emphasized the need to design strategies of effectively managing the cohort model of PhD training without overstepping the mandate of programmes. “There is need to strike a delicate balance between the procedure of the cohort model and the expertise needed to run the programmes,” she noted.
The workshop was coordinated by Dr Edgar Nabutanyi and Dr Levis Mugumya. It was part of the activities supported by the Gerda Henkel Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to improve PhD training in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Makerere University.