Makerere University has signed a Frame Agreement to extend the cooperation with University of Bergen, UiB, for a period of ten years. The Agreement, signed on 30th Sept. 2014, will see the two universities partner in joint research and teaching; exchange of staff and graduate students, and exchange of information and publications.
The initial frame agreement between the two universities was signed in 1999 for 15 years, and was set to expire this November. This Frame Agreement was the longest single North-South Institutional Agreement that both Universities have ever signed.
In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor Makerere University, Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu was grateful to University of Bergen for renewing the fruitful collaboration to strengthen critical areas. "We would like to strengthen the relationship in the areas of students and staff exchange that should go hand in hand with research collaboration, curriculum development, joint degree awards, and institutional capacity strengthening in human resources, administrative and financial management systems, Library resources, and research grants management capabilities in the context of the greater number of research programmes," he said. He assured University of Bergen of Makerere University's commitment to the renewed Frame Agreement, which he referred to as a sign of consolidating the mutual friendship and ensuring greater internationalization of the two universities.
The Rector of University of Bergen, Prof. Dag Rune Olsen, pointed out that the long life span of the collaboration is healthy for enabling research. "In research there are no quick wins. We have to invest over a long period of time. We would like to develop global citizens. Our task is to prepare students to work anywhere in the world," he said.
The Coordinator of Mak UiB collaboration at Makerere University, who is also the Principal of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Prof. Edward Kirumira, emphasized that the two universities will collaborate for as long as they still want to collaborate. "We are hoping that this collaboration expands into serving the region and we are already discussing this possibility. As a collaboration office, we commit to provide support to the members coming through and we would like to see more of the staff exchanges. We hope this collaboration will set the pace for both institutions to reflect on the slogan of our strategic plan to reposition Makerere University to meet the development challenges," he asserted.
Since the start of the collaboration, Makerere University has benefitted through exchange visits between researchers and administrators, over 160 Ugandan students have studied at the University of Bergen for their post-graduate courses including MPhil and PhD, and 6 NUFU projects. In January 2012, Makerere University launched the Seismic laboratory and received equipment as part of the Geosciences collaboration between Makerere University and the University of Bergen. This collaboration is supporting the MSc programme in Petroleum Geoscience, under the Department of Geology and Petroleum Studies. Makerere University also coordinated six NORHED Projects collaborating with University of Bergen plus a 7th one coordinated at Khartoum University but also involving Makerere and Bergen.
The Director Research and Graduate Training at Makerere University, Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza emphasized that such collaborations are critical in advancing Makerere University's research agenda. "Partnering with a superior institution has enormous multiplier effects. We are grateful to the people and Government of Norway for the support. We hope to get spin offs because a collaboration like this, is an asset. As a Directorate, such agreements help us in fulfilling our mandate," he said.
Prof. Thorkild Tylleskar, the Coordinator at UiB observed that Makerere University is a worthwhile partner. "One of our strategic focuses is on the global South in terms of development. We need as much knowledge as possible for our students in this collaboration. Some of the institutions in Africa are really weak. Many are new and this may cause problems in collaboration. But Makerere University is a comfort zone. It has all the necessary ingredients for a well functioning institution and from here we can invite other younger universities into the collaboration," he said.
Giving the vote of thanks, Prof. Livingstone Luboobi, the first Coordinator of the collaboration in Makerere University, commended the partnership, which he said started as a dream he shared with a colleague-Andreas Steigen at the University of Bergen. He was grateful that the collaboration has stood the test of time and was optimistic that its fruits will have lasting impact.
By Marion Alina