Burundi's Prof. Elie A. Buconyori, Rector of Hope Africa University, has been elected the Inter University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) president during its recently concluded third annual meeting held in Kigali.
Rwanda's Prof. Silas Lwakabamba is the outgoing president for the last two years. His term ends in June this year.
IUCEA is a regional inter-governmental organisation established to facilitate, coordinate and promote sustainable and competitive development of universities in the region by responding to the challenges facing higher education, and helping universities to contribute to meeting national and regional development needs through its various activities.
The body also provides forums for discussion on a wide range of academic and other matters relating to higher education, and helping maintain high and comparable academic standards.
In an interview with, The New Times, Prof. Lwakabamba observed that the council had achieved a lot during his term, citing the exchange of academic programmes by different partner state universities. He, however added that more needed to become to intensify the programme.
"Though we have achieved a lot, we still have a long way to go. We want to have an EAC qualification framework where a degree of engineering in Rwanda is recognised and should be the same in Kenya, Uganda and other member states," he underscored.
He said the council had managed to initiate a fund to support poor students from all East African countries to access tuition fees, saying that it was a big achievement for the region.
Recently, the School of Finance and Banking (SFB) and Uganda's Makerere University Business School (MUBS) signed a memorandum of understanding to initiate collaboration between the two institutions.
The partnership deal includes exchange programmes for both students and lecturers, job-training programmes (internship) and exploitation of job opportunities for students from both institutions. It also enacts joint activities such as research programmes and new courses to be incorporated as a way of initiating curriculum development.
However, Prof Lwakabamba pointed out that lack of harmonisation of tuition fees among universities within the region still persisted, saying that it has not only hindered the integration process but also the free movement of students who want to pursue studies in other institutions.
"We should charge the same fees as we've done in Rwanda but other countries have rejected it. It's just the problem of mindset. If you have a mindset that is positive, the integration process will go on. If you have a negative mindset, it will not," he said in an interview with The New Times.