*****The Project led by Assoc. Prof. David Katamba from Makerere University Business School (MUBS) aims to address quality assurance problems/gaps encountered by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) during masters’ research processes. The project team has developedan E-Supervision Web Portal (https://mastersresearch.ug/) to track Masters Research supervision processes. It is funded by the EU under Erasmus projects for the period 2023-2026.
Why the project
The outbreak of COVID19 and the subsequent measures taken to curb the spread of the pandemic, including prolonged lockdowns and limitations to physical contact, aggravated the already existing problems faced by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Uganda, specifically, the deteriorating quality of the masters’ research processes. Over 20,000 masters’ students who must undertake a supervised research project could not access their supervisors, a factor that greatly compromised the quality of their work.
Issues the project intends to address
Through a project titled, “Strengthening Capacity for ICT Usage and Policy Reforms for Relevant and Quality Masters Research Process Management in Uganda’s HEIs (ICT-4MRPQ)”, Makerere University Business School (MUBS) in partnership with Makerere University and other HEIs intends to address quality assurance problems/gaps encountered by HEIs during masters’ research processes. These include; absence of student-supervisor interaction records management, increased redundancies in supervisor-student skills transfer, research turn-around time redundancy, decreased transparency in conducting viva-voce, and duplication of research outputs/plagiarism. This will specifically be achieved through several objectives including; 1) Updating the Research Process Quality Management Policies and Guidelines (at national level – NCHE; and at university level) in the context of master’s students’ research, 2) Increasing the capacity of Uganda’s NCHE and HEIs to participate in the definition, implementation and monitoring of master’s research policy reforms necessary for setting up a national common master’s student research agenda, 3) Documenting critical aspects of the master’s student research journey, and 4) Building capacity in the use of ICT as a digital skill inclusion mechanism which can reduce various forms of discrimination against women/girls.
The Project is led by Assoc. Prof. David Katamba from MUBS. At Makerere University, the project is coordinated by Dr John Mary Kiberu from the Department of Geology & Petroleum studies. Other project members at Makerere University are; Dr Karidewa Nyeinga from the Department of Physics; Dr Denis Okello, Head, Department of Physics; Dr Godfrey Mayende from the Institute of Open and Distance Learning; Dr Caroline Asiimwe, formerly at the Department of Languages, CHUSS; and Ms. Joan Nakajigo from the Department of Geology & Petroleum studies. Other partner institutions include; Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST), Stichting Vu, Kyazze, Kankaka & Co Advocates, Uganda Chapter for Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives (UCCSRI), Universidade De Lisboa, and Uganda National Council for Higher Education.
The project has registered several milestones including the development of an E-Supervision Web Portal (https://mastersresearch.ug/) to track Masters Research supervision processes in Higher Education Institutions in Uganda.
On 27th June 2023, the Project team held a Stakeholders’ engagement at Senate Building, Makerere University to introduce and receive feedback on the E-supervision platform. The Web Portal was developed by ICT specialists led by Dr Shakirah Nagujja, Head, E-Learning Centre at MUBS.
Remarks by the Director DRGT, Makerere University
In his remarks, the Director, Directorate of Research and Graduate Training (DRGT) at Makerere University, Prof. Edward Bbaale commended the project team for the initiative, explaining that it will contribute to strengthening graduate training at Makerere University as one of the cornerstones for achieving the research-led agenda. “As Makerere works towards becoming a research-led University, with over 30% graduate students by 2030, we need to ensure our research and training processes are made efficient, and this is one of the factors the project is trying to address. The project rhymes well with the mandate of DRGT and will greatly improve research administration at Makerere,” he noted, calling for interconnectedness of online systems and the involvement of DRGT in the different processes of the project.
The Deputy Principal of CoNAS, Prof. Juma Kasozi equally appreciated the project team for the initiative and made a number of recommendations for improvement of the E-supervision platform. Similarly, participants including representatives from the Directorate of ICT at Makerere made several recommendations for improving the platform.