A one on one with Dr. Krishna Sharma VC. Victoria University on reducing unemployment in Uganda

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Victoria University is one of the top and fastest growing Universities in Uganda and standing out as a centre of academic excellence in the region.

Started operation in 2010, the university offers fresh and intellectually stimulating environment that nurtures critical thinkers.

Daily Inspector managed to have a one on one with the Vice Chancellor and below is how the interview went.

Qn. Briefly tell us about Victoria University

Dr Sharma: The University actually started in 2010 and got its license in December the same year and that time it was being managed by a company called Edulink Holdings Limited but after three years, in 2013 they failed to continue because of certain reasons and then Ruparelia Group took it over. That’s how we started.

It was at Kiira road and we relocated to here (Victoria Towers with very good investment. You see here you are seated in the heart of the town but you are not hearing any noise because this building was designed to be an educational institution.

Qn. What is the difference between the Victoria University of five years back and the one of today 2018?

Sharma: Victoria University is growing on a steady progress, every university grows slowly and universities are not like secondary schools, where you can keep loading in students on short term basis. You know any university is a universal thing, it doesn’t handle only teaching, it has many responsibilities, it does teaching, community engagements, research and publication .when we talk about the university progression we talk about all the aspects.

When we started we had only four programs in 2010 but now we have 20 programs, we have reviewed all our curricular with in these five years and the beautiful thing is that government doesn’t stop you from keeping reviewing your curricular in order to do something extra to your students.

When it comes to publications, we are building up capacity and just with in 2017 we published 25 publications including two books and our students have published because right now we have 5-6 publications in the pipeline.

On community engagement, we are moving because we keep going to camps to do the stress tests, counseling and apart from that our students have new creation, they have set new small nutrition groups in schools and right now if you visit primary schools in Kamwokya pupils will tell you what to eat or not what to eat, how to clean your hands in homes and communities they are living courtesy of knowledge they got from our students. These students do their research within the community. So when you talk of progression, yes we are moving.

Qn: So where do you see Victoria University going within the next 10 years or more?

Sharma: we have many plans but the education system is such a dynamic field, you cannot say that you are going to do A-B-D-C. We have bigger plans, we are going to start more masters programs, we are going to have more international collaborations like now we are in touch with Iceland government for a project, and we are in touch with one Swedish company and some hospitals to help them in research. In future we are going to focus much on research and innovations.

Qn. Do you have plans of setting up new branches country wide or across the region in order to expand the university?

Sharma: certainly we shall have those branches in the next 10 or 15 years, that’s the plan but initially we wanted to first build up our expendable own campus in Kampala.so once we grow and become bigger then we shall expand this campus. Expanding our selves is not big deal, we can go and open a center but then how will you give the quality and that is one of our values, we want to have quality assurance. You see this year we started our master’s in business administration and management yet we had gotten accreditation in 2016 but we waited for two years such that we have the right people to teach them, we are not just a money making institution.

Qn. What makes Victoria University different from other universities in Uganda?

Sharma: okay let me start with the different aspects of personalities of students or the student’s life. When you went to university trust me you went to study and pass the examination. For example you may have some good friends you studied with and they are of big ranks in government and you can call them and say hi, and that kind of environment is what we want to give to our students and not only on national level but also internationally.

In lifestyle, were are in the heart of the town, they have that exposure, a person can come from the village and then learns how to live in high society. When new students come here and see the cleanliness here after spending with us three years they will not want to see dirty environment in their homes or where they are employed. They also want to keep the open roof policy. We don’t treat them as students, we treat them as participants and our methodology of teaching is very beautiful I can tell you.

Qn. Does Victoria University offer online study courses?

Sharma: No, we have not started but in near future we can start up.

Qn: what do you do to students who come from far? Does university have students’ halls of residence?

Sharma: first of all we don’t differentiate our students, we treat all of them equally, we identify their challenges and we sort it. Those who want to rent hostels they can rent, our hostels are located just near at Nkrumah road about five minutes from here, students who come from abroad, we pick them on the first trip, our admissions office help them for visa .

Qn:
Talk about students’ population at Victoria University.

Sharma:
I think we have a good number of quality and committed students. Our motive is not to crowd this building with very many students who are not going to bring change within a society. We want to admit a number of students we can focus on. Very many students in class lose focus.

Qn: every year we see thousands and thousands graduating and joining street life, should it be government to be blamed for unemployment rates in Uganda?

Sharma: I think government is not a problem, what else do you expect from government? The first problem is the thousands and thousands of graduates. You cannot teach one thousands while you are graduating one thousand. Teach the number of students that you can handle. You see in developed countries like in India if anyone wants to start nursing school, the nursing council has to come and tell you the number of students your supposed to teach.

What is lacking in Uganda is technical skill, students go to classroom, a lecturer comes and you know professors have their own problems all over the world. They want students to read what is written in the book but the book is outdated, which is different with Victoria University. We teach knowledge, attitude and skills. In UK or other developed countries I don’t think people die to get government jobs, graduates want to work for themselves because they have knowledge and skill. Literally governments around the world cannot employ every one. It’s us the institutions that must prepare students for the market. For example we have mentored some of our students at Victoria University to start up their own companies.in Uganda it’s only our nursing students that do dissection not anywhere else. Uganda’s problem of unemployment is the poor quality of graduates institutions produce.

Qn: last word for those who hear Victoria University and would like to join

Sharma: well, I would like to tell them to come and visit us, don’t fear, make an informed decision. Come and visit us and talk to us because you don’t know what you are getting. Let them come meet us and know where they are going to spend their next three years.

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