Early this year -2023, Makerere University Business School (MUBS) in partnership with Makerere University developed an E-Supervision Web Portal (https://mastersresearch.ug/) to support tracking of Masters Research supervision processes in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Uganda. The portal was developed by ICT specialists from partner institutions led by Dr Shakirah Nagujja, Head, E-Learning Centre at MUBS.
The E-Supervision Platform is part of the achievements registered by the ICT-4MRPQ Project-Strengthening Capacity for ICT Usage and Policy Reforms for Relevant and Quality Masters Research Process Management in Uganda’s HEIs. The project is supported by the EU under Erasmus projects for the period 2023-2026 with the aim of addressing quality assurance 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. Addressing the gaps 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 main objective of the ICT-4MRPQ project is to strengthen higher education institutions capacity to use ICT in Masters’ research journey quality management processes and devise policy reforms for relevant high-quality research outputs at HEIs in Uganda.
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 and Petroleum studies. Other project members at Makerere are; Dr Karidewa Nyeinga, Department of Physics; Dr Denis Okello, Department of Physics; Dr Godfrey Mayende, Institute of Open and Distance Learning; Dr Caroline Asiimwe, Department of African Languages, College of Humanities and Social Sciences; Ms. Joan Nakajigo, Department of Geology and Petroleum studies; and Mr. Juma Katongole, Directorate of ICT Support (DICTS). 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.
Preparatory meeting for the launch of the E-Supervision Platform & Mobile App
On 14th November 2023, the Project team at Makerere University led by Dr Kiberu held a meeting to check and clear the gaps in the E-Supervision portal in preparation for the University-wide launch. The meeting was attended by, among others, the Principal of CoNAS represented by the Deputy Principal, Prof. Juma Kasozi, the Dean School of Physical Sciences, Prof. Michael Owor, and the Registrar, School of Physical Sciences, Ms. Eleanor Nandutu. It follows a stakeholder engagement held at Makerere University on 27th June 2023 to introduce and receive feedback on the portal.
During the meeting, the ICT team at Makerere University led by Mr. Joshua Muhumuza presented the portal, seeking clarification on the University research supervision processes, and guidance on the missing links that would undermine its implementation. Key recommendations included; the need to set timelines for research supervision to avoid clogging the system; enabling the system to track progress of students at all levels and send out regular notifications; the need to consider peculiarities of each Unit in the portal development process; capturing the supervision load on the system; adding Registrars on to the system to ably track progress of students; and adding a scheduling ability to the system.
According to Dr Kiberu, the E-supervision portal will be piloted on the College of Natural Sciences (CoNAS) before being rolled out to other Colleges of the University.
Features of the E-Supervision Platform
- Proposal Management
This procedure entails student submission of the proposal, review of the proposal by the supervisors, approval by the Head of Department, and approval by the Dean. Proposal Review Committees and the approval chain.
- Intent submission
This process involves the submission of an intent by the student. Supervisory endorsement, Head of Department approval, Dean’s approval, and appointment of examiners by the Principal.
- Thesis management
The student submits the thesis, which is then reviewed by supervisors, endorsed by the Head of Department, endorsed by the Dean, and examined by the examiner.
- Viva defenses
Enables viva defenses for students after thesis examinations.
|Student||Access student dashboard to manage intents, proposals, and theses. These are supposed to be registered students on ACMIS system. Students can access the portal using their registration numbers|
|Staff||This includes supervisors, Heads of Department, deans, and principals.They oversee all graduate tracking processes, including intents, proposals, theses, and examiners.These are supposed to be active staff on the EHRMS system and can only access the system using their Makerere University emails.|
|Admin||Configure the various aspects of the system and manage users.|
|Examiner||Examine student theses.|
NB: In addition to these processes, the system manages administrative functions such as student supervisor assignment, examiner appointment, user management, report generation, meeting schedules and system update statistics.
Details on the Project Stakeholders Engagement held at Makerere in June 2023;