Prof Patrick Kyamanywa joined Kampala International University (KIU) in November 2015 as Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and Executive Director of the University Teaching Hospital. He was appointed Deputy Vice Chancellor (DVC) in charge of Western Campus in February 2016. Prior to this, he was a professor of surgery and acting Principal of the College of Medicine and Health Sciences. He has also worked as the Dean of the School of Medicine and Pharmacy at the University of Rwanda. He joined the University of Rwanda in May 2008 from Mbarara University of Science and Technology. The East African Business Times Magazine’s Bonface Otieno Kanyamwaya caught up with him to find out more regarding his plans for KIU, Western Campus. Excerpts:
As the DVC in charge of this campus, what are the key issues of priority in your agenda in the short term?
During my tenure, I want to empower learners to be deep learners through improved access to information and learning opportunities, exposure to good teachers, standardized assessments and clear academic policies. I also want to harmonise our curricula to meet the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) and professional councils’ guidelines.
My vision for Western Campus and KIU at large is to be a leading internationally recognised institution in training, innovation, and research, especially in the sciences within the next five years.
KIU is at its best vantage point in its history, to make the leap towards a great University regionally and internationally. We have a completely new leadership at both campuses to drive the vision. The leadership brings together a wealth of experience, is young, dynamic and ambitious, and at the prime of their careers. The vision will be realised through the engagement of all stakeholders, that is; the students, staff, management, alumni, government, professional and regulatory bodies; sister institutions; among others.
What do you consider to be the most successful aspect of your leadership since you joined this institution?
When I took office in February this year, I shared my vision and leadership philosophy with the students and staff so that everyone was on board or at least had an idea of how I intended to steer the institution forward. The key message was that everyone counts and that we are “on the bus to Harvard.”We are benchmarking with the leaders in the game; it will be a tough ride and only the right passengers for the bus will stay on course.
What are your thoughts on access to health care in Uganda and the impact of pre-entry exams in the school of medicine?
World Health Organisation (WHO) reports show that Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 25 per cent of the global disease burden and yet has only 3 per cent of the global health workforce.
In Uganda, reports show that there is one physician for every 28,000 population, contrary to the WHO recommendation of one physician for every 1000 population. These statistics tell the entire story. We have severe challenges in access to skilled healthcare services, and there is an urgent need for more human resources for the health sector.
While numbers are important, efforts have to be made to ensure that those passing out from the training institutions meet the minimum practice standards. The quality of training, assessment, and progression at every stage in the program has to be benchmarked and monitored. There is an opportunity for a disruptive innovation here so as to increase access and enrolment to medical education.
Currently, subject combinations have been the most common criteria for entry to medical school, requiring one to have done biology, chemistry, physics and other related sciences. We have not embraced the importance of emotional intelligence and the fact that medicine is a vocation. I want to throw it out there for consideration that we move from just subject combination to pre-entry exams that enable us to identify and recruit candidates with the right aptitude and emotional quotient.
In comparison to other universities offering similar courses in Uganda, what makes this institution unique?
KIU is a leading comprehensive private University offering a wide range of programs in the arts, humanities, sciences and health fields at certificate, diploma, bachelors and graduate levels. Unlike other universities in Uganda, KIU offers two and in some cases three admissions per academic year, as a way of improving access to higher learning.
In addition, most of our programs are offered at several campuses including Kampala, Ishaka, Dar-es-salaam and Nairobi. We have the largest population of international students and faculty, offering great opportunities for international networking for our students and faculty.
How do you design your programms?
The design of our programms is informed by both local and international trends as well as future demands. Our mission is to respond to societal and education needs by developing and delivering pragmatic academic programs that are responsive to the market place and enable our students and staff to develop their potential and explore the heights.
Some of the programms such as nursing and allied health are co-designed with the professional bodies that offer promotion and exit exams in addition to our in-house assessments. Our programs are delivered in a semester system as per NCHE guidelines.
What’s the current student population today at KIU, Western campus?
We have a student population of 8,000, and this is up from about 6500 two years ago. This is set to grow significantly in the next two years are we shall be opening the School of Engineering and a College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences in addition to the expansion of the current programs and launching of several short courses. We are expanding our facilities and staff base to accommodate the anticipated growth. The projection is for a 15,000 student population.
How are your students currently fairing on in the job market?
KIU alumni can be found in all sectors in the job market. Our alumni are competitive and in the next three to five years, we shall be much sought after. At the moment, they are taking up a number of positions in the local government leadership including health services, education, and business management.
What kind of challenges are you facing today as an institution?
Most of our are similar to those faced by any other private university, and some are common to public universities too. However, one unique challenge we face as KIU is the distorted public image due to misinformation and a few mistakes in the early stages. As new management, we have embarked on an image correction campaign that includes engagement of our alumni and tracer studies; engagement of the public and industry as partners to participate in training as well as to inform our curricula. Our students are being exposed to compare with their counterparts in other institutions in addition to other inter-institutional academic collaboration activities.
Where should we expect to see this university in the next five years?
KIU will be the number one private university in the EAC region. Our science programms will be very competitive, and the research and innovations at KIU will have attracted some of the greatest institutions and individuals from across the world seeking to be part of the success story.