VICE CHANCELLOR AND PRINCIPAL’S STATEMENT DURING THE 2021/2022 UNIVERSITY CONGREGATION AT ADJAI CROWTHER AMPHITHEATRE
- His Excellency the president of the Republic of Sierra Leone and Visitor to the University of Sierra Leone
- Chancellor of the University of Sierra Leone and Chairman of the University Court
- Deputy Minister of Technical and Higher Education and other Ministers of government.
- Chairman, Tertiary Education Commission
- Members of Court here present
- Chancellors and Vice Chancellor of Sister Universities
- Deputy Vice chancellors of FBC, IPAM and COMAHS
- Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corp
- Madam Registrar and Registrars of sister Universities
- Members of Parliament
- Academic and Administrative staff of the University
- Distinguished quests
- Graduands, continuing students, members of the fourth estate
- Ladies and gentlemen.
It gives me great pleasure this morning to welcome you all to the 2021/22 Congregation of the University of Sierra Leone. When I was re-appointed in September 2022. I was mandated to guide the University of Sierra Leone towards the attainment of a World class research entity and to create a culture that promotes innovative teaching and learning methods that anchor on an effective quality assurance system. In fulfilment of that mandate, our activities included:
- Re-invigorate impactful research within the University.
- Support and invest in technology driven processes in teaching and learning.
- Strengthen our administrative and financial systems by exploiting alternative income generation and prudent financial management.
Mr. Visitor, Mr. Chancellor, Members of this house of Congregation, the theme for this year’s Congregation is “The University’s Role in increasing access to Higher Education”. This theme Mr. Chancellor resonates with our activities over the years and includes but not limited to the following:
- Curriculum Review
In all three constituent colleges of the University over 90% of the facilities have completed the review of their curricula. This review is to align students’ learning to the needs of our industries.
- Open and Distance Learning
Mr. Chancellor, members of this house of Congregation, in 2021 the University Court granted approved to Senate for the establishment of a distance and virtual pathway of learning. Following the very strict review by the Tertiary Education Commission, four programmes are now ready to be mounted on-line and the application for entry into these Programmes is now open. The Programmes are:
- Masters in Business administration
- Master of Arts in Communication and Development Studies
- Master of Arts in Public Relations and Marketing communication
- Master of Arts in Journalism and Media Studies.
The University will continue to work with Tertiary Education Commission for approval for more Prgrammes including some undergraduate Programmes.
To support this pathway of learning, the University has invested in the establishment of an E-learning, secretariat with three virtual learning studios, one in each constituent college.
- Capacity Building
Mr. Chancellor, members of this house of Congregation, I am happy to report that with sponsorship from UNIDO, the University of Sierra Leone has signed an MoU with the University of West of Scotland for a joint delivery of a quality management system training in Sierra Leone. This project will be housed at IPAM and will be formally launched in May this year with a rollout of two courses in ISO9001 Quality Management Systems training for Public and private organizations in Sierra Leone.
- Research and Innovation
Mr. Chancellor, members of this house of Congregation, Research is and will continue to be the bedrock of this institution. Just two weeks ago, the University signed an MoU with ZOODLABS Africa for the provision of a state-of-the art Infrastructure for data storage and high-speed Internet Connectivity in all three constituent colleges of the University. The pilot phase of that project, dubbed SMART University, is well underway. The University of Sierra Leone with lead from the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, has established a
Research and Innovation Support Office at Lamina Sankoh Street. This office will coordinate the management of all Research grants coming to the University and will support faculty members in their application for new grants. It will also be a platform where junior faculty members will be mentored by Senior Colleagues in grants management. This Centre has been furnished and will be commissioned soon. COMAHS has also secured thirty (30) acres of land in Kambia for the construction and establishment of a permanent University of Sierra Leone Research Centre. The current Research Centre in Kambia is in Prefab structures.
Mr. Chancellor, members of this house of Congregation, the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences continues to be a national leader in health research and capacity strengthening in the country, generating the much-needed evidence to inform policies and practices in Health. Over the past four (4) years, COMAHS has attracted over us$7 million in research funding and has created employment for over 1000 Sierra Leoneans including Doctors, Pharmacists, Nurses, Laboratory technicians and other support staff. The College has also provided a platform for cutting-edge research including studies on Ebola
and Malaria Vaccines, Health System Strengthening and Disease Specific Research.
At Fourah Bay College, the faculty of Engineering and Architecture with support from the Royal Academy of Engineers in the United Kingdom, has set up a water testing Laboratory for use by industries. Also, at FBC, the Department of Civil Engineering has benefited from a US$200,000 World Bank funding through the Ministry of Transport and Aviation for the construction of a 100 student capacity Computer Laboratory. The British International School and the Montessori Academy in Sierra Leone is currently funding the renovation work at the Department of Education to support teacher training at FBC.
Mr. Chancellor, members of this house of Congregation the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM) continues to play a major role in the training of this Country’s Administrators, Entrepreneurs and Financial Managers. The short courses unit at IPAM through the Ministry of Trade and Industry recently collaborated with the JFC Training College in London to train trainers on Agric Sector-specific Business Development Services. Another programme that this unit mounted was the Excel Programme for graduating Accounting Students. These and many other programme are being run by the short courses unit for both public and private organizations.
Also at the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM), a student writing centre has been establishing where students can receive a one-to-one assistance with writing especially with the writing of reports and dissertations. Also, at IPAM, a research basket that provides funding of faculty members to conduct research has been created. Staff members are however required to submit proposals that would be reviewed by a panel.
- Quality Assurance
Mr. Chancellor, members of the house of Congregation as the University Continues to provide Sierra Leoneans with increase access to higher Education, we will not loose sight of ensuring quality in our processes. From the 1st April this year, the University has subscribed to a plagiarism app called Turnitin. For a start, all masters and PhD Theses will be subjected to the Turnitin app check for plagiarism in accordance with International best practices.
Mr. Chancellor, members of this house of Congregation, as the University continues to make efforts to accommodate students into various programs, it is not without challenges. In all three constituent colleges of the University, the major challenges are classroom space and transportation. This year there was a 100% increase in our admissions compared to last year. The University urgently requires governments assistance and that of other Partners with more classrooms to accommodate the increased numbers from the Secondary schools and transportation to support their movement to campus and between campuses.
With those brief highlights on what we are doing as a University, I want to conclude on a thank you note.
I want to start by thanking His Excellency the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, who is visitor to the University, for the support provided to the University through the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education. Without the support from these two Ministries, we will not have been where we are today. I also want to thank the Hon. Minister of Technical Education and his team for providing the necessary guidance in terms of Policies and the provision of Scholarship for the training of our staff. To our partners, including other government ministries and agencies, I say thank you for your continued support and for being part of the team that is taking USL to the next level.
To the parents and guardians of our graduands, I say congratulations and thank you for your support. Without your support, these graduands would not have got to the finish line. To the graduands, congratulations and well done. I want to thank you for respecting the rules and regulations of the University. We are all aware that those who did not respect our rules are obviously not here today. So, I say thank you again and I hope you will be true Ambassadors of the University of Sierra Leone.
I want to end by recognizing our colleagues from the University of Liberia, Rev. Prof. Julius Sawolo Nelson and his team, Dr. Dinesh Shukla, The Chancellor and founding President of the American International University, West Africa, and Dr. Momodou Lamin Tarro, the Registrar of the University of the Gambia, representing Prof. Herbert Robinson, the Vice Chancellor of that Institution. Also, I want to recognize the Chancellors and Vice Chancellors of Sister Universities and all members of the Conference of Vice Chancellors and Principal.
The University lost 17 of its staff (Academic and Administrative). Kindly requesting that we all rise and observe a moment of silence in their memory. On that note, I want to thank you all for your attention.