Makerere’s demand for research funds fails to impress MPs

Members of Parliament’s education committee were not satisfied with Makerere University’s request for an additional Shs 47.5 billion intended to among others cater for salary enhancement and research in the financial year 2019/2020.

The University’s Vice Chancellor, Prof  Barnabas Nawangwe told the committee members that additional funding will go a long way in promoting research on key government areas of concern, while donor funding will remain focused on different fields.

Nawangwe was before the committee to defend the university’s budget proposals for the financial year 2019/2020.

“There are key research funders of the University including SIDA that have given more than US$8 million annually, as well as others like USAID, DFID and CDC, that may soon pull out,” said Nawangwe.

He told the committee that the university required up to Shs 50 billion for research a year, but that government had only provided Shs 30 million for the new financial year.

But the committee chaired by Jacob Opolot ( Pallisa) advised the university to operate within the Shs 30 billion following the end of the 20 year collaborative partnership between Makerere University and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), which has been the biggest funder of research at the university.

As of December 2018, the Swedish government had injected up to US Dollars 105 million approximately Shs 392 billion to public universities in Uganda for research.

The current research programme running until June 2020 is the final phase of the programme, according to Per Lindgarde, the Swedish Ambassador to Uganda.

Activities under this phase rotate around 17 projects spread across teaching and the service units in a network that includes five Ugandan public universities and 11 Swedish universities as well as research institutes.

SIDA’s partnership with Makerere and other public universities was aimed at increasing the capacity to generate knowledge and promote capacity for research required for national development.

Through the partnership, universities benefited from joint supervision and staff training.

According to Professor Buyinza Mukadasi, the Director of Research and Graduate training at Makerere University, over 250 staffs have completed PhDs, 100 masters and 50 post-doctoral fellows have completed their programs since the cooperation began in 2000.

The other public universities that have benefited from SIDA research funding through training of staff in supervision, mentorship, research management and grant proposal writing include Busitema, Kyambogo, Mbarara University of Science and Technology.

According to Makerere University policy statement for the 2018/2019 current financial year, Shillings 743 million was provided by government towards research.