Maximus Byamukama: Students’ Projects Should Relate To Real World Needs

In a recent interview, Maximus Byamukama, the Dean of ICT at Victoria University, highlighted the importance of ICT in the job market.

Q: What are the ICT-related courses offered at Victoria University?

Maximus Byamukama, Dean of ICT at Victoria University
Maximus Byamukama, Dean of ICT at Victoria University

A: The faculty of science and technology at Victoria University houses 3 courses. The Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, The bachelor’s degree in Information Technology and the degree in Business Information Systems. We also have Ordinary Diplomas in IT and Business Information Systems.

Q: Why should students study these courses from Victoria University and not anywhere else?

A: Our ICT courses at Victoria University are developed by well refined experts in the field, with a battery of experience both in academia and industry. These courses are IEEE compliant.

For example, our Computer Science curriculum is based on the 2013 Curriculum Guidelines for Undergraduate Degree Programs in Computer Science by The Joint Task Force on Computing Curricula, which is part of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) in the IEEE Computer Society. As such, our students are well placed when searching for employment opportunities in IT-driven organizations and are guaranteed of being considered for graduate studies in the world’s leading universities.

Our courses have also core modules in other crucial areas such as business management, ethics and critical thinking. We groom the whole individual and deliver to the nation a well formed professional and not just a computer expert. We also have very well qualified staff in the faculty, with international academic exposure and relevant work experience.

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Q: How is IT integrated into your education techniques at VU?

A: Not only do we have a well-stocked computer laboratory with hassle-free internet but also teach using interactive smart boards. All our students have laptops given by the university so it is easy for some lecturers to conduct wireless lectures if need be.

And to make all this easy for all students, we have a compulsory introduction to ICT course in the first semester of first year. All students, regardless of the course they enrolled for, have to study this course. We also encourage lecturers to handle assignments electronically and minimize paperwork. Victoria University-Interviews-Education-Schoolnet Uganda

Q: Are there any IT innovations that VU has developed?

A: Because we practice what we teach, you will find that some of the software we use at VU to manage organizational processes has been entirely developed in house! For example, our student’s results management system has been entirely developed by us.

We want to make it a culture that students’ projects in class relate directly to the needs of the organization and its affiliates, as well as other businesses. That way the university and the student both benefit.

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Q: What are the requirements for a student to join your faculty?

A: If you would like to study computer science, we look for good grades in mathematics or any of the physical sciences at advanced level. For information technology and business information systems, we are open to students who have studied arts at advanced level but we still need good scores in mathematics at O Level.

We could also admit you if you have an ordinary level certificate with good grades in a diploma in an ICT related field. The beauty with applying to VU is that if you meet the minimum requirements, we handle you individually and can even ask you to come in for an interview to assess where we can best place you.

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Q: How do you prepare your students for the job market out there?

A: That is a very good question. We are actually the only university that looks for internship positions for its students while they are still with us. Our faculty, through the university, has MoUs with many institutions where to send our students for internship. Not only do they get real life experience but also make develop networks with people already working in ICT related jobs.

Q: How practical are your courses?

A: Very practical! In fact, some of our modules are almost 100% practical. This doesn’t mean that theory is not important. It is, since it is the basis for the practical components of our courses. It is irrelevant if it’s not backed up by a hands-on approach. For example, in our computer programming lectures, students always use the lab and study by writing real computer programs.

This is also made easy by the fact that our student to computer ratio is, at any one time, one to one (1:1). In our computer networking classes, the VU computer network is used as a case study and students get to see all the components and how they interact.

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Q: What new things do you have planned for your faculty?

A: We have started plans to start some good short courses in the near future including general literacy courses which should prepare people for accredited certifications like ICDL (International Computer Drivers License) and also specific certifications like the Certified Forensic Computer  Examiner Program (CFCE).

We want our faculty to be a one-stop point not only for students seeking quality education in computing but also for organizations looking to snatch well cultivated and professional IT scholars.

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