High ranking shows varsity on course in rise to the top

A recent ranking of higher education institutions in Rwanda provides the clearest signal that Mount Kenya University Rwanda (MKUR) is on its way to the top. The university, assessed as a campus of Mount Kenya University (MKU) at the time of the survey by Higher Education Council (HEC), emerged first among Rwanda campuses of regional universities, and 11th overall out of the 29 institutions ranked. The HEC ranking is conducted to promote competitiveness in higher education sector, and thus raise quality. The council assesses institutions of higher learning through specific features, attaching scoring weights according to their acknowledged importance. These are: Faculty, Publications, Research, Consultancy, and Management Development Programmes (35 percent); Placement, Unique Selling Points (USP), Networking and Industry Interface (27 percent); Physical and Academic Infrastructure (23 percent; Admission, Curriculum and Delivery System (15 percent).

MKUR performed especially well in the more strongly weighted parameters, implying that the university’s management had distributed its resources and prioritised its strategies appropriately. In particular, the university scored the highest rating in Placement, USP, Networking and Industry Interface, followed by the Academic and Physical Infrastructure parameter, and that of Faculty, Publications, Research, Consultancy, and Management Development Programmes. Yet at the time of assessment, the university was among the youngest and not yet done setting up all its systems. It was thus assessed at its three scattered and rented locations: Town, Camp Kigali and Kicukiro centres.

Now the university has a new centralised location at Kagarama. The new set-up is not only ideal for learning, but will also increase capacities all round, and significantly in health sciences and information technology (IT). These two fields are key specialisations by the university. MKUR Vice-Chancellor Prof Edwin Odhuno argues that had the HEC assessment focused on this facility, the university would have ranked among the top five in Rwanda. “That will be the focus of the institution in the next three years,” he affirms. Now that the three learning centres have been consolidated, student have since January 2017 been using the Kagarama facility. To boost its academic programmes, MKUR has partnered with the American Hospitality Academy in USA to offer virtual studies in hospitality. It has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Northern Michigan University, and further collaborates with the University of West of Scotland and several Danish institutions.

Prof Odhuno says since the relocation to Kagarama, the university’s focus is now to streamline operations to ensure it achieves the highest level of operational efficiency. This, he adds, will affirm that the university is on course for academic and administrative self-determination. “We have started this process with the consolidation of facilities. This will be followed by rationalization of our academic resources to support our goals. We will focus on the needs of our students as we are aware of the competitive nature of the operating environment. We will also maximise our human capital for purposes of growth, motivation and development,” he explains. The VC continues: “Sometime this year, we will host a Thanksgiving event, during which we will interface our vision, mission and goals with the aspirations of key stakeholders in Kicukiro District, and members of the nearby community.”