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125 PhDs expected in new SIDA support

The Swedish government has agreed to support the training of 125 PhD, 147 Master's students and 65 post-doctoral fellows across five universities, over the next five years.

This follows a new cooperation agreement reached with five public universities, last week. The move will see support go to 17 research teams in the said universities.

According to the Swedish ambassador to Uganda, Per Lindgarde the support, worth $32m (about Shs 118bn), is intended to build the universities' human resources and the environment for research and training.

The envoy noted that the Swedish strategy is based on funding institution-building, post-graduate education and research in one single effort as no part can function without the others.

The holistic approach to higher education and research, he said, would enhance the research capacity, which in turn would contribute to the development needs of Uganda.

The revelation came during the annual planning meeting of the Makerere and Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) research cooperation, recently.

Prof Buyinza Mukadasi, Makerere’s director of Research and Graduate Training, who is also the main driver of the initiative, said the support had been very instrumental in aiding research across the universities.

“Tremendous achievements have been made including the creation of an environment conducive to high-quality relevant research through investment in human resource development, ICT, library resources, laboratory and field site infrastructure,” Mukadasi said.

The Swedish agreement was motivated by concerns about inadequate infrastructure, research funding and staff welfare. Since 2000, Sweden has invested over $66 million (Shs237bn) into Uganda’s graduate training and scientific environments in five public universities.

The main recipient has been Makerere University, while less support went to Kyambogo, Busitema, Gulu and Mbarara University of Science and Technology.  The same institutions are expected to benefit under the new cooperation.

In his remarks, the vice chancellor of Makerere University, Prof John Ddumba-Ssentamu, said the support was critical to the achievement of the core values of learning, research and innovation, as 250 academic staff had received PhD training in the process.

Since the cooperation began, a further 100 have completed master's degrees, while 20 have completed post-doctoral fellowships. This has fostered proper knowledge transfer both in Makerere and the other participating universities.

“Over the years, Makerere University has been producing high-performing graduates, who are innovative and responsive to the development challenges at national and regional levels,” Ddumba-Ssentamu said.

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