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Applied sciences university agreement nears finalization

The much-awaited bilateral agreement between Kenya and Germany, paving the way for the establishment of the planned Eastern African-German University of Applied Sciences, could be signed in the next month, signalling the possibility of setting up the institution before the end of 2018.

Both Kenya and Germany have finalised the drafting of a detailed bilateral agreement guiding how the institution will be financed, managed and operated, as well as the obligations and responsibilities of the two countries.

What remains is agreeing on the legal wording of the bilateral document, according to Uwe Koppel, head of cultural affairs at the German embassy in Nairobi.

“Both sides want to lay a strong legal foundation for establishment of this university; what is being awaited is purely the legal side of the agreement after which the document will be signed,” he said.

“The kind of university envisaged between Germany and Kenya is unprecedented for both sides; it is a completely new concept to both countries. As such you would understand why the teams are taking time coming up with the right wording for the document,” Koppel told University World News.

Either way, the document, encompassing both technical and legal aspects, should be ready for signing before the end of this year. This was irrespective of who won the upcoming Kenyan repeat presidential election, he said.

Previously, the taskforces had been working round the clock to finalise the process ahead of the German and Kenyan elections in September and August respectively, fearing that changes in government could lead to a change of policy which might stall the creation of the Eastern African-German University of Applied Sciences.

Once the agreement is signed, a call will be made inviting universities in Kenya to apply to host the institution, with a similar call being made in Germany for a collaborating university, which will also help in benchmarking and knowledge transfer.

Both public and privately owned universities will be free to apply for the role of host. The construction of a new stand-alone university has thus far been ruled out.

“The desire for both parties is to get this institution up and running as quickly as possible. Nobody wants a lengthy process of looking for finances to procure land and waiting for construction. The plan is to have it up and running soonest,” said Koppel.

He added that Kenya’s ministry of education was doing a “fantastic job” in fast-tracking the process. Koppel commended Education, Science and Technology Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i for his commitment to the success of the project.

The working groups in both countries include representatives from Kenya’s Commission for University Education, the German mission in Nairobi and the German Academic Exchange Service or DAAD, among others.

Once functional, the university will admit students from seven countries in Eastern Africa, including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Burundi, for science programmes under the German applied sciences model.

It will offer mainly engineering and science programmes, as well as German language tuition to facilitate student and staff exchange. Students will also have the opportunity of working in Germany as part of an industrial attachment programme.

The idea of establishing an institution in East Africa using the German applied sciences model was first mooted in 2015 after a Kenyan delegation led by President Uhuru Kenyatta visited the European country.

This was followed by the signing of a declaration of intent document in February this year.

Source: university World News