Victoria University Kampala is the fastest growing young private university in Uganda. It was established in 2011. It is located at iconic Victoria Towers on Jinja Road at the famous Esso Corner.
Below is an interview we conducted with the new Victoria University Vice Chancellor, a renowned international academician, young innovator and prolific author- Dr. Krishna N. Sharma.
Briefly tell us about you as an individual, your record in the academic world and what you bring to Victoria University, now in the capacity of Vice Chancellor?
I am basically an academician and author with medical background. I have more than hundred publications and have supervised more than 60 researches. I have many dreams for the university as a Vice Chancellor, and I am sure I am going to take the University with the help of my colleagues. My focus still remains on research, innovation, publication and outreach.
What reasons attracted you to come and work at Victoria University and how has your background benefitted the University for the time you have been working as dean faculty of health sciences?
It is a young university and here you get an opportunity to “create” history and leave legacy. VU provides good environment, autonomy, research opportunities and nice human resource policy. I don’t see a reason why shouldn’t it attract an academician.
As far as my contribution as a dean is concerned, I brought collaborations, organized free international workshop, and worked on Quality Assurance. There are few other projects coming soon from the faculty of health sciences.
I am happy to share with you that this faculty is now being led by Prof. Stephen Lawoko- an eminent researcher with more than 50 publications and more than 28 years experience in Sweden.
You said when you had just joined Victoria University that it has potential, how does it compare to other international universities in developing countries like Cameroon where you have taught?
It is a new age university with fresh ideas and young energy. Unlike many international universities, it has a very experienced and active university council that gives academic freedom to the academicians.
Our faculty is well qualified and internationally exposed. I think the strongest aspect is that, in VU, we all work as a strong team with same vision and mission.
You have published hundreds of books and research papers; do you see yourself transforming this desire and ability to write to Victoria University students? Are they up to the task, those you have interacted with so far?
Writing is not as difficult as we think. If you have something to valuable to tell, you can be an author. Fortunately, we provide our students international exposure and so they have a lot to share. They are well grounded in research and very active in outreach.
Our deans also have published very good number of researches. I believe that we have already spread the vibe of research and publication. I assure you that you are going to read lot of researches and books from our students in near future.
What unique courses do you have that give you leverage over other private universities? What do you intend to achieve by teaching these courses?
Let me be honest with you. It’s not only the programs but also the delivery of programs and our state of the art facilities that make us different. The curricula of our programs in all the faculties – faculty of health science, faculty of science and technology, faculty of business and management, faculty of humanities and social sciences, and department of oil and gas is totally market driven.
As an academic institution, our responsibility is to train the students so that they may secure their places and succeed. We motivate our students to focus more on gaining knowledge and skills rather than marks and papers.
Victoria University talks of state of the art facilities, what exactly are these facilities, elaborate more?
Though we are located at the heart of Kampala, our building is soundproof to provide a peaceful learning environment. All of our classrooms are fully air conditioned and equipped with smart-board, overhead projector, speakers, computer system etc.
Our student-computer ratio, book-student ratio etc are excellent. We provide free internet and laptop to our students. Our labs are very modern, advanced and fully functional. We have the most advanced and most expensive medical manikin in Uganda.
We also make the environment comfortable for students. We believe more in participant-facilitator relation than student-lecturer relation. Apart from having a nice restaurant, our students have students’ lounge where they can grab their cup of coffee, warm their food in microwave and have discussions.
The August/September intake is just around the corner, why should someone come to study at Victoria University and not any other university in Uganda and the world? And how many intakes do you have in a year and how can someone join the University?
Our lecturers come from both the academic and professional background. They teach our students from their experience in field. We also find mandatory internships for all our students as we have made it mandatory. So when our student completes a program, he or she already has lot of experience and links that may assure his or her success.
We have two intakes in a year, one in January-February and another one in August-September. Our admission process is very simple. I would suggest students to visit our campus and meet our admission officer and career counselor. You can also apply online by visiting www.vu.ac.ug.
We noticed that there are many students coming from outside Uganda – non-nationals – where do you get them and what attracts them to Victoria University?
We have students from various countries of different continents e.g. Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Nigeria, Burundi, Eritrea, Somalia, DRC, Ghana, India, Pakistan, Canada, Lebanon etc. I think, apart from our flexible fees payment system and open door policy; it is our curricula, teaching methodology, facilities, teaching and learning environment, international exposure and international internships that attract them to us.
Do you make as much effort to stay in touch with your international alumni as you do with your home students?
Of course we do! The student-university relation is very unique. If I may use personification, a university should be a students’ mentor. She should not discriminate based on being home students and international alumni.
You have signed some partnerships with international educational institutions, how are students benefiting?
Our partnerships and collaborations are benefiting our students from many aspects. Can you imagine that our clinical sciences students recently saved more than 1,500 USD each as one of our partners provided them a very expensive and modern skill training for free? Our students have many more benefits by our partnerships for research collaboration, student exchange program, staff exchange program, internships etc.
Where do you see Victoria University in five to ten years?
I see Victoria University as the first choice research driven University nurturing a holistic person and contributing to regional and global development.