University of Rwanda VC Didas Kayihura addresses claims of producing uncompetitive graduates

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 1 April 2024 at 02:57

University of Rwanda’s Vice Chancellor Kayihura has denied claims that the higher institution produces uncompetitive graduates, stating that the narrative is false and misleading.

Speaking on Sanny Ntayombya’s podcast titled The Long Form, the VC said some of the issues raised by the critics, including lack of soft skills among graduates, should not be blamed on the varsity but basic education institutions.

“If anyone within the country or even beyond is complaining about a university graduate who cannot properly format his or her CV, or express themselves clearly, then that should not be blamed on the university.

“I, myself, didn’t learn how to write my CV at university. My primary three kid writes a proper CV… Every morning, he writes a letter to me or his mom… That is the age where you start exploring what you can do. Upon reaching university, you are focused on other sciences. You are not trying to learn how to write a letter or CV,” Kayihura said in response to claims that some of the university graduates were unable to craft compelling CVs for the modern-day job market.

He added “Whoever says that, I really don’t take them seriously. They should be directing their concerns elsewhere, not towards the university. If it were a case of taking a graduate to a laboratory or law firm and they don’t know how to write submissions that would be an issue.”

Kayihura, while expressing confidence in technical skills impacted on the graduates at the University of Rwanda, noted that the institution had put in place intervention measures to address the soft-skill gaps.

“We are now teaching soft skills, not because it’s our primary mandate, but because someone else did not do it. We are trying to expose our students to how to behave in their respective disciplines, how to communicate, and how to transmit what they know, as people say that has been the challenge,” the VC revealed.

He added that some of the graduates who are accused of not being able to communicate effectively in English, French, or even Kinyarwanda were some of the best students from public schools, excelling in mastering content and hard skills.

“There are individuals who worked hard, grew up from deep within secondary schools, and excelled academically, but they struggle to properly express themselves, whether in English, French, or even in Kinyarwanda at times. However, when you expose them to Science—the real substance—they excel. When they come to university, I cannot say it’s too late for them, but it’s too costly for them to focus on soft skills other than the science they came to study.

“Yet, upon graduation, they perform well in written interviews and demonstrate mastery of content. Their weakness primarily lies in public speaking, a deficiency that can be traced back to their experiences in primary and secondary schools. We are trying to assess their levels of communication and soft skills and work towards bridging that gap, the VC stated.

In response to the question of why the University of Rwanda ranks poorly compared to other universities in Africa and even globally, the former Dean of the School of Law stated that his main focus was not on rankings but on producing graduates capable of addressing the country’s challenges, including those related to agriculture, energy, and health.

He, however, admitted that there were areas needing improvement, which he attributed to the merger of at least seven institutions to form the University of Rwanda in 2013.

He called for patience, stating that the investment would ultimately bear fruit.

“The investment you put in education today you can only see the proceeds of the investment in like 15 years to come. It’s something that you invest in and you don’t to have to expect the results quite often,” the VC said.

“As the head of the institution, my first business is not ranking but responding to demands. If the energy sector or any other area is suffering I have to respond to that,” he stated.

The University of Rwanda ranks 176th in Africa and 7124th in the world, according to Scimago Institute Rankings.

According to the VC, some of the measures has taken to improve its quality of education include revising teaching approaches every five years.

Dr Muganga Kayihura refutes claims of producing uncompetitive graduates at UR