The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) has called on scholars and professionals to take advantage of vast opportunities to promote higher learning and research. Though international collaborations, ACU brings together universities from around the world - and people to study and work together in the effort to advance knowledge and improve lives.
ACU, through several networks underscores the importance of academic collaborations and cross-networks with governments, development organizations and other agencies in seeing to it that nations develop through sustainable goals. ACU CEO and Secretary General, Dr. Joanna Newman said ACU has since developed wider connections including; Commonwealth Climate Resilience Network, Peace and Reconciliation Network, Knowledge and Resources and the Higher Education and SDGs Network where individual professionals or institutions can join. Dr. Newman was speaking during a public lecture held at the Technical University of Kenya on 25th April 2022. The event was attended by several vice-chancellors, deputy vice -chancellors, university college principals and other representatives from local universities. TU-K Management, teaching staff members and students attended the lecturer where Dr. Newman together with her team from ACU responded to various questions regarding the association’s activities, opportunities and available support. The lecture was held ahead of the 21st Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (CCEM) which was held on April 27th and 28th in Nairobi. The conference was themed; ‘Rethinking Education for Innovation, Growth and Sustainability Post-Covid-19’. The high-level conference also brought together senior government officials from across the Commonwealth, teachers, development partners, civil society, and policymakers to address key education priorities within the Commonwealth towards the 2030 Agenda.
Climate Resilience Network Through the Commonwealth Climate Resilience Network, Dr. Newman said there was an urgent need to build resilience in universities. “The network we have built up is set to address the institutional challenges and how the universities can be more effective in build resilience of governments, communities and the private sector to be able to combat climatic changes,” said Dr. Newman. Some of the TU-K staff members involved in the Climate Resilience Network including; Prof. Alex Muumbo Dr. Mildred Aduma and Mr. Laban Rotich. “These networks are for your staff members and post-graduate students. They are a fantastic way of reaching out to people with different backgrounds and disciplines.” In addition to the existing scholarships, Dr Newman disclosed that ACU has also introduced Queen Elizabeth scholarship on Climate Resilience for students, staff and institutions. University of London through funded research has partnered with universities in Fiji, Kenya and Mozambique under a project called Transforming Universities for Changing Climate to better understand the university’s activities on climate change and how they may be enhanced.
Peace and Reconciliation Network
In areas of Commonwealth Peace and Reconciliation Network, Dr. Newman said ACU offers network challenge grants for professionals and academic staff focused on peace and reconciliation thematic areas. This will help in developing peace programmes in the world.
Higher Education and the SDGs Network
Higher Education and the SDGs Network targets academics, practitioners, and students at member universities across the Commonwealth who are directly engaging and integrate with the Sustainable Development Goals agenda. This is through sharing content materials, peer learning and practice, developing SDGs focused research, collaborative impact research. “ACU also helps in building up Research Community through research impact, research uptake, research administration, open access, decolonising research, research ethics and integrity,” said Newman adding that ACU offers early career research training grants and staff funding Some of the members of the Research Community Network include Prof. Suki Mwendwa, Prof. Fiona Mbai, and Mr. Steve Ruger.
Dr. Newman also highlighted past and current areas of scholarships through management of government scholarship schemes, Chevening Scholarship, Commonwealth, Marshalls and Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships that have been on over in the last 60 years. “These are unique scholarships with up to two years of study in any Commonwealth countries, we also have Master’s scholarships, split site scholarships, PhDs and twinning programmes,” Dr. Newman said. She noted that collaborations such as twinning programmes benefits both the scholar, institutions and faculties through joint research collaborations. To avoid potential brain-drain through international scholarships, ACU has placed a condition to scholars to return home after completing their studies. “I know there are a number of alumni who have gone back and made lasting contribution in their home countries,” she noted. Some of the alumni of the scholarship include; Yusuf Abdul Rahman Nisbo, who is the National Chairman of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, Prof. Emily Akuno, the late Dr. Joyce Laboso, who also served as a lecturer at Egerton University before joining politics and rose to serve as Bomet Governor and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly. The ACU has over 500 member universities with 66 per cent in low and middle-income countries and 109 member universities in Africa including 12 in Kenya. “TU-K is among the member universities with the Vice-Chancellor Prof. Francis Aduol being a member of the ACU Council,” Dr. Newman said.