Nawangwe urges International Students to be good Makerere University brand ambassadors

The Head International Office, Ms. Martha Muwanguzi (C) with International Students and Association Heads after the orientation on 25th February 2022, Senate Building, Makerere University.

The Head International Office, Ms. Martha Muwanguzi (C) with International Students and Association Heads after the orientation on 25th February 2022, Senate Building, Makerere University.

The Vice Chancellor Professor Barnabas Nawangwe represented by the Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration), Professor Henry Alinaitwe welcomed international students to Makerere University in an afternoon ceremony held in the Senate Conference Hall.

In attendance were the Dean of Students, Mrs. Winifred Kabumbuli, Ms. Martha Muwanguzi, Head of International Office, Dr. Hellen Namawejje, One of the Coordinators of the KFW-funded EAC scholarship programme, Ms. Joyce Nyiramahoro who represented Mr. Charles Ssentongo the Deputy Registrar in charge of Undergraduate Admissions and Records, Dr. Josaphat Byamugisha, the University Hospital Director; Ms. Rose Nalwanga from the Counselling and Guidance Centre, Mr. Yunusu Musisi the Systems Administrator, Directorate for ICT Support (DICTS) and Presidents of the various Students’ Associations.

A big number of both postgraduate and undergraduate international students attended the function.

In her speech, Ms. Muwanguzi welcomed the new students to the oldest and premier university in the region, where they will be rewarded not only with the best education and world-class qualifications but will be enriched with cultural diversity and experience. She applauded the students for taking the courage to study in a foreign country with a different culture from what they are used to.

She pledged the support of the International office towards their wellbeing throughout their stay at the university.

Students on full-time programmes as well as short term students from partner and non-partner universities, who visit for one or two semesters made up the congregation. She informed the students that Makerere University will be celebrating 100 years of its existence this year and celebrations have already started in various departments and Colleges. An example was the International Conference on Gender Studies in Africa (ICGSA – 2022) organised by the School of Gender and Women Studies, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS).

Activities such as the Cultural Gala, a football match and others are planned for international students as they will be informed. She called upon the students to participate in the activities when the schedules are finalised.

Professor Alinaitwe who represented the Vice-Chancellor welcomed the new students to Makerere University. He recognized the different nationalities represented at the function and called upon them to be good brand ambassadors of Makerere. He shared his story as an international student decades ago as reassurance that he clearly understands what it means to be in their state. He studied his Bachelor’s degree at Makerere University, moved to the University of Sydney, Australia for his Masters’s degree, then did a Licentiate degree at the University of Rafrand in the United Kingdom and his Doctorate at the University of Lund, Sweden.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor said that Makerere University is a hospitable environment, a place of behavioural change and development. He urged the students to make use of the library and its facilities. Furthermore, he stressed the importance of avoiding bad company, involving oneself in heavy drinking as these habits will lead them astray and make them forget their reason for joining Makerere.

He emphasized the need for students to consult with their leaders in the Associations, at the Department as well as the religious leaders. He called upon the students to participate in university activities whenever called upon. He wished them a nice stay and encouraged them to enjoy the nice weather and landscape of Uganda.

In her welcome remarks, Mrs. Winfred Kabumbuli reassured the students that she was their mother away from their homes, and it is therefore her duty was to see that all children are well looked after and catered for. “The Office of the Dean of Students supports students’ welfare and it is for both national and international students.”

She encouraged them to join student activities and even present themselves for leadership positions in the Colleges and at the Student’s Guild. The Dean of Students urged them not to fear because they are internationals but to embrace the diversity at the campus.

“Make friends for guidance and also for comfort. There are social services such as the Chapels for the Anglican and Catholic Community, as well as the Mosque for the Muslims. Many churches off campus for other denominations are also within easy reach for students to commune with others” said Mrs. Kabumbuli.

Ms. Nyiramahoro who represented the Deputy Registrar in charge of Undergraduate Admissions and Records congratulated the students upon being admitted to this great institution and urged them to use their time wisely.

“First and foremost, make sure that you have a valid admission letter, pay your university dues and register with the Department. Registration is key. If this is not done, then you will not be a bonafide student of the university and therefore will not graduate at the end” cautioned Ms. Nyiramahoro.

She emphasised the University policy of attendance of all lectures as well as doing coursework and tests. “If your attendance is below 75%, then you will not be allowed to sit university examinations. Make sure you do all the tests and coursework because they all contribute to your final result.”

In her remarks, Dr. Hellen Namawejje shared her experience as an international student at Dar es Salaam University, Tanzania. She noted that excellence is a must for graduate students and ought to be observed at all levels.

“A graduate student is a mature person and therefore a high standard is expected in his/her work presented to the lecturers. Research is very crucial at this stage and a lot of commitment is needed and must be given to your studies. Graduate students must be close to their supervisors and make sure that their research is well coordinated. You need to know your head of department and lecturers as well” said Dr. Namawejje.

She encouraged the graduate students to visit the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training (DRGT) offices on Level Four of the Senate Building for guidance at all stages of study.

Ms. Rose Nalwanga from the Guidance and Counseling Centre (CGC) welcomed the students and informed them of the psychosocial support services CGC offers. She reassured the students that there are male and female counselors to attend to their challenges at whatever stage.

“Some students get addicted to drugs, some are lost in relationships and do not study, some lose close relatives like parents, siblings; some engage in business and forget what brought them here. If you face any of the above challenges and even those not mentioned, please seek counseling anytime” she added.

Dr. Josephat Byamugisha welcomed the students to the great institution and shared the services offered at the Hospital such as Covid 19 vaccination, Hepatitis B Vaccination, Yellow Fever Vaccination, Sexual and Reproductive health services, Eye care services, Covid 19 certificates, among others. He emphasized that prevention is better than cure and that all the above services are free to students provided they are fully registered with the University.

Many international students reported after the orientation in the Colleges had been done and so missed important information. It was at this point that Mr. Yunusu Musisi from DICTS demonstrated to the students how to; register as a new student, create Makerere University E-Learning Environment (MUELE) and email accounts, use MakAir and Eudoroam, access the MUELE app on Playstore, make use of the University knowledge base, access WiFi which can only be done through University emails. He cautioned students against opening suspicious links and websites as well as creating social media accounts using the university email.

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