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Universities challenged to seek regional partnerships

 Dr Ezekiel Mecha (left) speaks during the three-day workshop as Prof Meshack Obonyo, Dr Dorothee Weyler and Prof Florence Indede look on. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Universities in the region have been challenged to collaborate with each other to cost-effectively achieve their objectives. 

Prof Marcus Hoppe of Germany's Leibniz University Hannover said establishing partnerships with their counterparts overseas may prove difficult for a majority of them.

He added that seeking regional collaborations will not only strengthen their collective bargaining power but also enable them to share knowledge and pool technical expertise.

“The universities should offer capacity development support to each other and development partners on the crucial links in research, and education, drawing on the expertise developed by their innovation,” he said.

He was speaking during a three-day workshop that brought together 17 local universities on collaborative online international learning through virtual platforms.

Prof Marcus said cultivating collaboration within the region will make it easier for learning and linkages.

“It is easier to establish collaboration with your neighbouring countries because this is easier, and cost-cutting on mobility. You have similar problems; you can exchange easily without strain,” he stated.

The intensive training course is part of the National Multiplication Training (NMT) of the Dialogue on Innovative Higher Education Strategies (DIES programme).

It entailed the role of Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) and Virtual Exchanges in promoting internationalisation at home in higher academic institutions in Kenya.

It also aimed to provide an in-depth application of how virtual exchange can enable distant students and staff to team up and develop core competencies and skills required for internationalization.

The workshop was co-organised by the University of Nairobi, Maseno University, Kibabii University and Dedan Kimathi University of Technology in collaboration with experts from Leibniz University Hannover (Germany) 

However, Maseno University Head of  Chemistry Department Prof Mildred Ayere said they opt for collaboration with the global north to overcome the financial challenges. 

“The reason why we are seeking international collaboration is because of funding purposes. My neighbour is having similar challenges of funding that I am having,” she said.

“But when we collaborate with universities in the global North their programs like Erasmus and other funding and other funding opportunities that you can collaborate with and get funded.”

She further said with the Commission on University Education's demand for universities to align their programmes with the new curriculum, institutions running E-Campus require huge funds to implement.

“We have about 300 programmes that need to be reviewed. Writing an online course is costly. It means putting away all what we have been using online we need to write again. Lecturers want to be paid for their contents to be uploaded online,” she stated.

German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) regional director Dr Dorothee Weyler said the workshop will give an opportunity to identify and develop effective linkages between local and international collaborators

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