The University of Botswana looks set to increase its post-graduate enrolment and thereby boost its research throughput following the launch of 16 scholarships aimed at attracting the best brains across the globe. The Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Dr Douglas Letsholathebe launched the scholarships on July 9, 2021.
In his address, Dr Letsholathebe commended the University for finding it fit to offer PhD scholarships to attract the best academic brains locally and across the globe. He said the initiative would certainly contribute positively to the growth of post-graduate enrolments. The scholarships are in line with the new University strategic goal of becoming a premier research-intensive institution of higher learning in Botswana and beyond.
“It also goes without saying that with this scholarship, the research output of the University will improve since I am reliably informed that those who shall be awarded the scholarships will also be required to publish before they complete their studies,” said Dr Letsholathebe.
He added that initiative would further contribute immensely to human capital development while at the same time improving the University’s rankings and competitiveness. Dr Letsholathebe said he was encouraged to see the University of Botswana living its new strategy, Creating a Future for The Knowledge Generation 2020-2029, hence repositioning itself to offer quality education, research, innovation and engagement for sustainable national development in the Knowledge-based economy.
He noted that the scholarships were an indication of the University’s quest for efficiency, effectiveness, productivity and value for money by striving to achieve more with less. “You have now given me a tough task, Vice Chancellor, to go and look into my books in the Ministry and see how we can support your initiative in as far as advancing research and innovation are concerned,” stated the minister.
Giving an overview of the initiative, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, Professor Agreement Jotia, said the scholarships would in way offset costs for higher education, which continued to escalate globally. Professor Jotia also observed that in line with its new strategy, offering post-graduate scholarships would enable the University to recruit highly qualified and competent graduates who would have the opportunity to engage in research and development. He said the scholarships would be awarded to prospective or current graduate students who had demonstrated an outstanding academic record, sound professional and research experience or publications.
“The scholarship shall be awarded to Mphil/PhD and PhD students with relevant experience in their area of expertise so they could serve as Teaching Assistants in their relevant departments and faculties,” he observed.
Professor Jotia said such an approach was designed to reduce costs especially academic staff wages in that the graduate students would teach both undergraduate and post-graduate courses under robust departmental mentorship. Consequently the awardees, he stated, would receive a full tuition waiver with a stipend.
Each recipient will receive a monthly allowance of P3 000 and P4 500 once-off research allowance. “This initiative is taken with the goal of attracting and retaining more highly qualified Mphil/Phd students, while simultaneously promoting capacity building by employing experienced students as Teaching Assistants,” said Professor Jotia.
He explained that this would also nurture their professional development while enriching their research experience as they would be expected to attend conferences and publish, thus contributing immensely to UB’s institutional visibility.