USHEPiA celebrates its success

26 November 2009 | Story by Newsroom

braai guestsStriving for change: Christine Noe (fellow), Prof Thandabantu Nhlapo, Prof Martin West, Rafiki Yohana (fellow), Nan Warner, Prof George Magoha and Norbert Musekiwa (fellow) at a braai to celebrate the success of USHEPiA.

As three more of its research fellows graduate in December, the University Science, Humanities, Law & Engineering Partnerships in Africa (USHEPiA) programme recently celebrated another successful year with a braai recently.

The event at the All Africa House was attended by, among others, research fellows, co-ordinators, supervisors, and members of USHEPiA's top management, including project leader UCT's deputy vice-chancellor Professor Thandabantu Nhlapo, his predecessor Professor Martin West, and Professor George Magoha, vice-chancellor of the University of Nairobi.

USHEPiA aims are to build institutional and human capacity, promote collaboration among established African researchers, and generate and disseminate knowledge among African universities. It offers PhD and a few master's fellowships to staff members from the programme's eight partner universities in Africa. But what makes the initiative stand out, as Magoha points out, is that almost all of the fellows return to their home universities to launch their academic careers and to share their learning with others.

"This is different to what is happening when students are away through other scholarships, where the return rate is 20% to 25%," Magoha explained.

Programme director Nan Warner added that the African continent loses about 35 000 academics a year as a result of brain drain, and USHEPiA strives, in a small way, to change that.

Since its inception in 1995, 64 full degree fellowships have been offered. To date, 42 PhD and six MSc fellows have graduated through USHEPiA, with 12 fellows currently pursuing their doctorates, and three fellows due to graduate in December.

One of the fellows is Christine Noe from the University of Dar es Salaam, who is graduating with a PhD in environmental and geographic sciences. Noe said her involvement with USHEPiA has exposed her to the best facilities and most experienced supervisors, while also providing her with networking opportunities that will be useful in her career. UCT, in particular, has been like a home away from home, with a family spirit encouraged among participants, she said.

Read more about USHEPiA on their website.

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