A group of 12 young Ugandan students who were awarded scholarships by the European Union under the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degrees have been flagged off by Attilio Pacifici, the European Union ambassador to Uganda to go to different universities across Europe to pursue their studies in master’s degrees in different fields.
Last week, Pacifici presided over a special send-off at his residence in Kololo. The 12 students include Teddy Nambaziira, Agnes Nyamiel, Tomasi Tusingwire, Geoffrey Ruhangariyo, Brenda Nakandi, Felix Mugizi and Kenneth Nkumire. Others are Leonard Kalule, Stephen Ediru, Ronald Ochan, Jovetine Mulumba and Winnie Nalubowa.
Each of the students is going to study their master’s degree from at least two different universities located in different European countries such as Belgium, Germany, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom with courses mainly in agriculture, veterinary and natural sciences.
During the event, Attilio Pacifici congratulated the students for the great achievement and said that one of the key aspects of the Erasmus programme of students living in one or more European countries is for them to engage with young Europeans, experience diverse cultures and to enjoy the European diversity.
He, therefore, asked the awardees to be ambassadors of Uganda in Europe and to make a difference for Uganda in her development agenda by innovating, solving problems, fighting corruption, addressing issues that affect Ugandans and overall to fully contribute to Uganda’s development when they come back after completing their studies.
Pacifici added that not only individual students are benefiting from the Erasmus programme but also a total of five local universities and one regional research forum are going to benefit from 36 months of higher education partnership programme.
“These partnerships are focusing on improving competencies and skills by developing new and improved education programmes, improving the quality of higher education and enhancing its relevance for the labour market.”
The beneficiary universities include Makerere University, Uganda Martyrs University Nkozi, Gulu University, Muni University, Busitema University and RUFORUM (a regional research entity).
One of the students, Brenda Nakandi, who is going to pursue a master’s degree in Precision Medicine specializing in Bio Medical Engineering at the University of Barcelona, Spain said that she got to know about the scholarship programme through an online newsletter and she applied.
“I had subscribed to an online education newsletter and one day I saw an advert about the Erasmus scholarship and decided to apply and I did the interview. One morning in March as I was working out, I received an email that I was among the awardees,” she said.
She hopes to use the knowledge and skills she is going to acquire to develop medical devices that can be affordable and appropriate for Uganda’s health care system and she is excited to meet new people and visit new places in Europe.
Under normal circumstances, these students would have already left for Europe but because of Covid-19 travel restrictions, this has been delayed. However, some of them have already begun their courses online while the majority will begin as soon as they wait for their travel next month.
Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree is a European Union education programme which aims at enhancing quality in higher education through scholarships and academic cooperation between the European Union and the rest of the world.
To be eligible for the scholarship, you must have obtained a education degree first, not be a resident of the 27 EU member states and should have not have carried out any activities like private visits, studies, work, tourism in these countries for the last 12 months.
The scholarship covers participation costs including tuition, library and laboratory fees, full insurance coverage, travel and installation costs, a monthly subsistence allowance for the entire duration of the study programme and any other mandatory costs related to the participation in the master degree.
So far, a total of 139 Ugandans have been sponsored by the European Union and its member states to pursue their studies in Europe since 2014 under Erasmus Mundus I, Erasmus Mundus II and Erasmus