MUT looking to a productive partnership with East African university

MUT and UCU staff after the “exploratory” meeting. Seated are MUT’s Professor Busisiwe Nkonki-Mandleni, right, and Professor Aaron Mushengyeni, Vice-Chancellor of UCU

The MUT staff that facilitated the discussions between the Institution and the Uganda Christian University (UCU) hailed the meeting as a great success. Professor Busisiwe Nkonki-Mandleni, CEAD Director, and Xoli Ngubane of the Technology Station in Chemicals, said there was lot that MUT would benefit from by partnering with the Ugandan university. The meeting between the two universities took place on 16 May 2024, and was chaired by Professor Nkonki-Mandleni. The Vice-Chancellor of UCU, Professor Aaron Mushengyeni, said that was an exploratory meeting which was part of the bigger plan, which is creating partnerships with Southern African universities. Professor Mushengyeni said they wanted to join up a “missing link”. “We have partnerships in the United States, Europe and East Africa,” said Professor Mushengyeni.

Giving reasons for the visit, Professor Mushengyeni said it was an exploratory visit to talk about research, academic exchange for both staff and students.  “Already UCU is cooperating with universities in the US, Europe, east Africa. Now we want to establish links with South Africa. We also like to have visiting scholars from both MUT and UCU.  There is a gap with regards to southern Africa. But we want to start with South Africa,” said Professor Mushengyeni. Professor Mushengyeni added that they were looking at opportunities to sign a memorandum of understating with MUT and the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Mandla Mthembu, Chief Operating Officer, whose organisation, accelerated Education Enterprises, connected UCU with MUT, said UCU would provide a teaching qualification for accelerated Christian education curriculum to MUT staff.


Both Professor Nkonki-Mandleni and Ngubane pointed out that there were lots of commonalities between the two institutions. Professor Nkonki-Mandleni said they were amazed that, although the UCU’s research directorate is only two years old, but they have covered a lot of ground, and that their research is well directed, and is purpose-driven. “Their research has an impact upon the community. UCU is very strong on water treatment, renewable energy, solar research, indigenous food systems which are meant to deal with food insecurity. UCU also focuses on sustainable fuel, alternative protein sources, renewable food waste, and cyber security,” said Professor Nkonki-Mandleni, adding that these were the areas that MUT could benefit from when working together with UCU, which has a very strong focus on benefiting the community, and is very parentship-orientated. They value their community,” said Professor Nkonki-Mandleni.

Professor Nkonki-Mandleni also said they noticed that UCU, like MUT, wants their staff to acquired senior level qualifications, up to PhD level. Professor Nkonki-Mandleni said they observed that the UCU had a strong drive in creating excellence in teaching and learning, and research and innovation, and this was done to benefit the community.  Both Professor Nkonki-Mandleni and Ngubane said they saw value in MUT sharing best practices with the young university. UCU, although was founded early in the 20th Century, only became a university in 1997. UCU now has a strong international footprint.

Professor Nkonki-Mandleni and Ngubane reiterated what Professor Mushengyeni said. They noticed that UCU had “innovative ways of training in science and technology. “Also, as far as staff exchange goes, we could use the e-campuses to save costs,” said Professor Nkonki-Mandleni.

Professor Nkonki-Mandleni and Ngubane thanked MUT staff that attended the meeting, and said their colleagues contributed well to the discussions. One of those colleagues, Professor Roger Coopoosamy, the Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, said they were looking at the Departments of Agriculture and Community Extension forging partnerships with UCU in areas of food security, and other relevant departments working with UCU on water-related studies, and information technology issues. “We would like to collaborate with UCU’s ICT development on AI and drone technology.