Uganda’s Bishop Stuart University (BSU) is set to build one of Africa’s biggest research and innovation centres
By Bonface Otieno Kanyamwaya
One of the widely cited reasons why most African universities are falling behind in the global league table is because they have not invested enough in the area of research and innovation and are yet to make any major scientific breakthrough. But that could soon change as one of east Africa’s fastest growing universities seeks to develop the region’s biggest research and innovation hub.
According to Rose Rwankore, Senior Public Relations Manager of Bishop Stuart University (BSU), the institution values research and innovation as one of the fundamental components through which a society can be recreated for economic development.
BSU has also established a research laboratory (Ethnobiology Laboratory), which falls under the Faculty of Applied Sciences, to carry out research on medicinal biological resources.
“The laboratory was established mainly for research on medicinal plants that can be commercialised for natural health products development and also to spearhead innovations in value addition to Aromatic crops,” says Rwankore.
The research lab derives its name from use of indigenous resources to manufacture natural products.
The lab, Rwankore says, is mostly used for product development, which is driven by the concept of research and development. Numerous fast moving consumer goods, including herbal teas, herbal skin care products, and detergents, are manufactured here.
BSU, through its Ethnobiology Laboratory has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a number of research institutions and agencies with main purpose of ensuring continuous collaborative research and sustainable innovative platforms.
Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST), Faculty of Medicine, which acts as the quality control centre for all product formulations for natural health products developed from the BSU’s Ethnobiology Laboratory, is one of the key partners.
The other partners include Mbarara Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MBAZARDI) under the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO).
NARO, a research agency under the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal, Industry, and Fisheries (MAAIF), has so far supported BSU’s research projects with Ugs 194 million through the National Competitive Grant Scheme (CGS).
The agency funded BSU to carry malaria vector repellency assay on essential oils of different aromatic crops and commercialise development of additional malaria vector control tools to join international efforts in combating residual malaria transmission.
BSU is a Christian private university that was founded by the Ankole Diocese of the Church of the Anglican Province of Uganda.
It traces its humble beginning from Bishop Tucker Theological College, Mukono, which was founded in 1913 as a normal school.
The normal school was relocated to Ruharo, next to Mbarara High School, in 1952 under Rev. Hugh F. Hodge who founded a grade II co-educational Teacher Training College known as Bishop Stuart College at Kakoba.
From 1952 to 1981, Bishop Stuart College trained grade II and III teachers. The college was later in 1982 relocated to Kibingo in Rwampara, paving way for the establishment of the National Teachers College, Kakoba, to train Diploma teachers for Primary and Secondary Schools.
In March 2002, the Ankole Diocese Synod resolved to establish a university at Kakoba Hill and named it BSU.
In April 2004, BSU became affiliated to Uganda Christian University (UCU), Mukono, and through this affiliation UCU started awarding degrees, diplomas and certificates to BSU students.
BSU was subsequently licensed by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE). The university started offering degree, diploma and certificate programmes in the 2006/2007 academic year.
In 2014, BSU was awarded Charter by NCHE. It can now award any Postgraduate and Undergraduate degree in any discipline accredited by NCHE.