In 2009, after a deep analysis and consultations with different stakeholders and partners in education, the Institut d’Enseignement Supérieur de Ruhengeri (INES-Ruhengeri) has adopted a new and innovative orientation of its teaching i.e. becoming an Institute of applied sciences. This new orientation requires INES-Ruhengeri to operate a complete change of its academic systems as well as of its administrative management processes. As for any change in human life, this is surely very challenging, and it needs careful planning. It is from this perspective that this roadmap is being elaborated.
In April 2009, INES-Ruhengeri chose to officially profile itself as an Institute of Applied Sciences. The choice of this new orientation in Rwanda and in the region was a response to the findings from the labor market survey which was conducted in 2008 by INES academic staff in order to collect impressions of potential employers of INES graduates. This choice was once again positively received by the Government of Rwanda since soon after on 16 June 2010, INES-Ruhengeri’s programs were fully accredited by Ministerial Order N° 005/2010/MINEDUC.
Why becoming an Institute of Applied Sciences?
With the liberalization of Education in Rwanda which was followed by the creation of more than 13 private Higher Learning Institutions, the number of graduates from tertiary education increased considerably. However, there is a way to think that this increase in the number of employees with higher qualifications was not followed by an increase in the competences; reason why there is continuous request for Higher learning Institutions to increase the quality of their education. Indeed quality issues are very concerning to the Rwandan Government as well as to all other stakeholders:
- In 2008 for instance, a Labor market survey conducted by INES-Ruhengeri showed that respondents (from organizations who were chosen because they could later employ INES-Ruhengeri graduates) were complaining about the quality of “nowadays” HLIs graduates, because they tend not to be independent workers.
- In 2009, a skills audit conducted in Rwanda by HIDA-MSCBP, Ministry for Public Service and Labor, has shown in a report entitled “National Skills Audit Report”, that Rwanda is experiencing serious gaps in terms of critical skills especially technical skills like civil engineering, electronics, nursing, Land and Environment domain etc.
- A parliamentary commission set after the President Paul KAGAME’s visit to the National University of Rwanda in 2009, and which audited Universities and HLIs, with a mission to identify the quality of those institutions concluded that institutions operate “under pathetic conditions, where poor quality of students who graduate from them, poor quality of education offered, poor salaries of teachers and lack of teaching equipment are the salient features of most institutions”.
Analysis of all these complaints, especially analysis of the findings from the above mentioned labour market survey, can be summarized in the fact that there is a serious mismatch between University products (graduates) and labour market needs: Universities are either teaching wrong things, or they are teaching the right things in a wrong way! In reflecting and conducting deeper researches on this issue, INES-Ruhnegeri’s leadership realised that the problem is not about what but about how. They then started looking for the solution (by visiting other universities abroad to try to learn from them and undergoing consultation trainings by consultants like Ans Voordouw, Ir. Jan Oomens and Juerg Inderbitzen, and the idea of applied sciences came in as the only possible answer to solve the problem of mismatch between quality of graduates and the labour market needs.
Institutes of Applied Science are mostly characterized by:
- An academic offer which prepares students for the labour market through profession oriented higher education
- Research activities focusing on applied research in collaboration with the field of practice.
- Close ties with business and industry; all students follow an internship/work placement
- A student centred educational methodology focusing on a mix of solid theoretical background with development of professional competencies.
- Vertical mobility. Giving people from deprived backgrounds the opportunity to develop their educational level throughout their life.
Implications of Becoming an Institute of Applied Science
Becoming an Institute of Applied Sciences implies big changes in INES-Ruhengeri at all levels:
- In Academic Programs and methodologies
- In Infrastructures
- Management style
- In Research practices
ACADEMIC EFFORTS MADE TOWARDS APPLIED SCIENCE ORIENTATION
Revision of the programs
The review of curricula in collaboration with stakeholders taking into consideration the requirements of the professional field and regional durable development was set in the strategies to enhance INES orientation of become an Institute of Applied Sciences. In the Academic year 2011 INES-Ruhengeri has made that review for its programs. In some programs options were inserted in order to create more specialized graduates. It is in this sense that:
- The Department of Enterprises Management has now two options (Accounting and Entrepreneurship Development and Management).
- In the Department of Biotechnology three options were created. Those are: Biomedical sciences, Plant Biotechnology, Food Security and Agro-industry engineering.
- In the Department of applied Economics three departments were created also. Those are Financial Economics, International Economics and Rural Development Economics.
Increasing qualified lecturers
In the academic year 2011, INES-Ruhengeri has considerably increased the number and quality of its academic staff
Securing collaboration with other Universities of Applied Sciences
Among these Universities we can state: Lucerne University of Applied Sciences in Switzland with which INES is developing a project of Interdisciplinary competence development centre, RTWH Aachen University, Hogeschool Utrecht etc.
Creation of new programs
In its continued quest to provide sustainable contribution to the solving of the land related problems in Rwanda, INES-RUHENGERI after succeeding in launching a program of Land Survey is now in the process of starting two other programs which are complementary to Land surveying. Those are:
- The program of Land Administration and Management
- The program of Civil Engineering
Laboratories and other didactic material
INES-RUHENGERI is now comfortably equipped in terms of laboratory, library, ICT and other infrastructures.