Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe has asked the government to offer scholarships for PhD students.
Currently, the government only offers sponsorships to undergraduate students. At least 4,000 students across different public universities including Makerere, Kyambogo, Mbarara, Busitema, MUBS, Kabale, Lira, Muni, and Gulu receive government sponsorship every year.
According to Nawangwe, the majority of PhD students pay for their studies, but the courses are expensive, particularly research. He says that this compels many students to abandon their programs due to a lack of funds.
Nawangwe was speaking on Tuesday at the Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium as Ph.D Students at Makerere University in partnership with the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training gathered to interact, and share their research areas, critique concepts and proposals, and research outputs.
He appealed to the government to establish a dedicated graduate student scholarship or a loan scheme if the University is to increase the number of PhD enrollments at the University.
Tuition fees for PhD students at Makerere University vary from 5 to 10 million Shillings per year, depending on the nature of their program of study. Additionally, research expenses range from 10 to 20 million Shillings, a fee that Nawangwe says poses a significant financial burden for many students.
In this financial year, the government earmarked 30 billion Shillings University Research and Innovations Fund receives 30 billion Shillings from the government annually to facilitate local science innovations.
According to Nawangwe 1.5 billion Shillings out of the 30 billion will be offered to support Ph.D. students during their research. Nawangwe adds that the University is looking forward to gradually reducing the enrollment of the number of undergraduate students, to afford lecturers more time and resources to devote to graduate students, particularly those pursuing doctorates.
Gerald Ahabwe, the President of PhD fellows says that there are 720 Ph.D. students at the university from the eleven colleges.
Hamson Obua, the Government Chief Whip, who represented Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja said that he will forward the matter to the relevant authorities.
He added that research that target sectors like agriculture, tourism, minerals, oil and gas, and ICT are considered to play a big part in compelling people into the mid-income status.
Obua said that the government is committed to increasing the funds allocated to the directorate of research.