Muni University a beneficiary of the Higher Education, Science and Technology (HEST) project that aims to produce more skills in science and technology to respond to increased demand from the labor market, and promote the development of a knowledge-based economy. The project will achieve this through improved delivery of training of graduates in science and technology, with a focus on employability and/or employment creation.

The HEST project has awarded Muni University US$5,500,000 which will be used for implementing the project’s four (4) component areas, which are briefly described below.

Component I

Improving and expanding HEST in six public universities and two degree awarding institutions

This component will expand equitable access to science and technology training and research. It will finance the review of the current Higher Education Strategic Plan (HESP) to year 2020. It will also enhance access to HEST through rehabilitation and expansion of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) learning facilities, specialized laboratories, technology workshops and improvement of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) connectivity and equipment leading to increased access and quality of training in these programmes, and equipping the improved facilities to optimum performance in their functions. Review of the current HESP 2003-2015 will enable prioritization of STI.

The ICT broadband backbone and networks together with relevant equipment will also be supported to widen learning methods through the establishment of e-learning options. Common facilities including laboratories, lecture spaces, technology workshops, e-learning centres, virtual libraries, faculty offices, and demonstration or production units will be constructed, rehabilitated or expanded. The project will support the mainstreaming of ICT in learning to improve systems and widen learning methods.

The STI departments will be fully equipped with ICT laboratories that enhance learning beyond the campus. It will also address energy supply systems in the institutions, and the stabilization/alternatives needed to attain stable learning. Environmental management including adequate water and sanitation, waste handling and ‘greening’ of the critical learning system will be addressed. Gender mainstreaming will also be addressed. Under e-learning partnerships will be enhanced with institutions like Africa Virtual University and other leaders in this line using ‘cloud computing’ which reduces cost of ICT infrastructure. The project team will work jointly with the ICT department of the Bank to choose the most appropriate options.

Component II

Building Capacity in Public HEST institutions
This component will consist of postgraduate training of HEST faculty staff in the newly established public university. Training at local and regional levels will focus on STI staff and critical areas of institutional management, governance, public-private partnerships development models, maintenance, and sustainability. At least 20 scholarships for gifted poor scholars to participate in strategic areas of STI at university, with a minimum of 40% being women, will also be supported. In addition, the component will strengthen the capacity of the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) with monitoring, and data management skills.

Component III

Improving Quality and Relevance of HEST in Public Institutions
This component will strengthen applied research and innovation in STI. It will support relevant networks and partnerships with the productive sector, especially in the industry sector, and other worldwide institutions of excellence in their respective fields. Appropriate structures similar to those established at the Makerere University Department of Nutrition Incubator Centre will be set up in the other universities. Publications on innovations and research will also be supported through this component. Practical training/supervision of students in industry will be supported for certain STI programmes nationally and regionally. It will encourage and support establishment/strengthening of production and entrepreneurship incubation centres at universities, which would enhance practical and business startup training. Researchers and lecturers would also be supported to establish consultancy teams to enable them to apply their research directly with the productive sectors. Inter-university links and links with the private sector will be supported nationally, regionally and internationally mainly through ICT systems. Focus will be on networks that increase North-South, as well as South-South links. As part of an impact evaluation exercise, the project will survey alternatives for distant learning which will enhance enrolment without increasing spatial requirements, especially for training of STI teachers.

Component IV

Project Management and Coordination
This component will finance project management, coordination, and evaluation. This includes coordination needed for overall project implementation, audit, and monitoring and evaluation. An impact evaluation will also be included to assess the effectiveness of the approaches used in the program with regard to quality and relevance to the job market.
The project is jointly funded by the African Development Fund, Government of Uganda, and the beneficiary institutions. The project duration is 5 years (2013-2018).