Professor Durraiz Rehman, is Deputy Vice Chancellor Research Innovations Consultancy and Extensions (RICE) at Kampala International University. Prof. Durraiz is also an internationally acclaimed academic, medical practitioner and multifaceted consultant. He spoke to Dr. Joel Isabirye about the research culture, facilities, promises and prospects at KIU.
Dr. Joel Isabirye: You recently joined KIU as DVC RICE. What are your impressions of the University so far?
Professor Durraiz Rehman: Rome was not built in one day. The infrastructure of KIU in terms of the local context of Uganda where we live are amazingly advanced. So, it is up to us to visualize the full potential of these tangible structures to explore the heights. It is doable. I think we have the competence, potential, resources and the leadership to take it forward.
I have found it a truly international place which has to be globalized. It has to move from regional globalization to international globalization. There is a lot of work to be done to build on to the great work that has been done so far. It is a work in progress.
Dr. Joel Isabirye: What are the core functions of RICE?
Professor Durraiz Rehman: RICE is basically an acronym for Research Innovations Consultancy and Extensions. These are a set of pillars on which a university is based. Research is closely linked with academics which is the central function of the university, but it has to do with knowledge production. RICE is therefore concerned with growing research, innovations, consultancies and extensions at KIU.
We provide support for research, innovations, consultancies and extensions. Once one has attained knowledge and moves to the frontiers of knowledge, they look backward and accumulate data from the past experiences in the world of knowledge or in the world of new knowledge or revealed knowledge. We then collect data, analyze it and make sense of it. This is called research. Moving forward, once we have acquired this information, knowledge or skill, we move to the domain of innovations to acquire or build new or further bricks of knowledge for the collective good of human kind. We then offer some of these innovative solutions to the broader world using a framework of consultancies and extensions.
Dr. Joel Isabirye: What have been the main achievements of RICE since the last graduation in November 2022?
Professor Durraiz Rehman: We have made some strides in the period that you mention. We got some major policies approved in the Senate. We managed to operationalize the Center for Excellence in Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CoEEI) which is now a hub.
We are building institutional partnerships with foreign countries for example China. We did Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with many partners. We set up and supported the Directorate of Grants and we are integrating it within the culture of our university. We continue to have conferences, student exchange programs, teacher exchange programs amongst other activities. In terms of staff capacity building, we have increased our training sessions, and conducted a number of training workshops for staff and which were related to research, grants, innovations, consultancies and extensions.
Dr. Joel Isabirye: What are some of the challenges encountered by RICE since the last graduation and how have these been addressed?
Professor Durraiz Rehman: The main challenge which can be seen more as an opportunity, is that the optimization of the processes and integrating them into the fabric of the KIU community is complex. The reason being that there is a paradigm shift which requires a holistic and complete change management strategy and its execution. It is a time taking process that requires patience.
Dr. Joel Isabirye: How important are grants and partnerships to KIU as a University?
Professor Durraiz Rehman: The economics of any community is about matching unlimited wants and wishes with limited resources. Technical resources require financial capital.
Globalization has matured. The culture of integrated and collaborative team work is the order of the day and which the university has to consolidate. So, partnerships, are not only to be built internally as teams, but also externally beyond the walls of the university, national and regional borders. Collaboration for financial resources, in academia and research is sought through grants. Thus, the magnitude for the amount of grants flowing into the institutions is always the indicator of the trust the global community has in the competencies and expertise in the human resources of the educational institutions.
Dr. Joel Isabirye: Internationalization is an aspiration held by many universities today. How is KIU positioning itself to consolidate as an internationally recognized university?
Professor Durraiz Rehman: KIU is conceived as an international university. Its in its name. Its in its DNA. With its international staff/faculty and students, I have found over here, I believe that it is already an international university. Even its operations are not limited to Uganda.
Having been already globally recognized by webometrics as a top most university of Africa, and the number two in Uganda, and the number two in Uganda, but number one private university in Uganda, is itself a testimony of it being globally recognized.
Dr. Joel Isabirye: How vibrant is KIU’s research culture?
Professor Durraiz Rehman: The KIU community is very enthusiastic to participate in all kinds of research activities. They always want to test their limits and they challenge the frontiers of research and innovation. I have found them very competitive to identify gaps and develop competencies wherever required. In short, KIU is second to none in our land, to provide a complete ecosystem for research and innovation
Dr. Joel Isabirye: What are some of the facilities in existence at KIU that support its research program?
Professor Durraiz Rehman: We have several facilities that support research at KIU. We have the best libraries of the land, state of the art laboratories for scientific research, fully equipped engineering workshops, facilities for pharmaceutical research and academics, medical facilities, a whole teaching hospital, and a dedicated publishing unit with seven (7) vibrant KIU Journals.
All of these facilities support research activities and programs at KIU.
Dr. Joel Isabirye: What words of wisdom do you have for the graduating class of June 2023?
Professor Durraiz Rehman: Explore the heights
Dr. Joel Isabirye is a Senior Media and Business Consultant. He also teaches and researches communication and development at Kampala International University (KIU).
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