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Dr. Nkata and the UMI delegation during the IASIA Conference in Lisbon
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Dr. Nkata receives the Certificate from IASIA President Dr. Blanor Scelza
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The ICAPA accreditation certiface clearly setting UMI apart; over and above any of its peers on the continent and much of the developing world
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Site Visit Team member Mzee John Mitala (R) gestures during a UMI function
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Prof Gerald Karyeija has (as Dean) been very pivotal to UMI’s ICAPA accreditation
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This is evidence of the inclusiveness (equally involving ladies) which is one of the indicators considered when assessing suitability for ICAPA accreditation
UMI Gets International Accreditation For the Master's in Public Administration
During the IASIA Annual Conference in Lisbon Portugal that was held on Monday 22nd July, something of great significance for Uganda’s higher education happened. And this is what it was: The leadership of IASIA (globally uniting all schools and institutes of public administration) and that of ICAPA announced Uganda’s UMI had satisfied the rigorous requirements to have its Masters of Public Administration (MPA) degree program accredited to international standards.

Operating under the auspices of the UN, much-respected ICAPA in full is International Commission on Accreditation of Public Administration Education & Training. At hand in Lisbon to receive the accolades was the UMI Director General Dr. James Nkata who led a delegation participating in the IASIA Conference.

Making UMI’s MPA program now comparable or as good as that done at Harvard or even the London School of Economics, the ICAPA accreditation is awarded following a list of 8 indicators or standards issued by the UN through it’s Public Administration & Development Management Department.

Some of the areas considered include how efficiently a given training institution combines academia, practice & community services. It also considers reviews or praise by academic peers elsewhere and social inclusiveness. Yet that isn’t all. Does the institution seeking accreditation have a purposive & relevant curriculum? Are the necessary human and financial resources available to facilitate the MPA? To what extent is there balancing between collaboration and academic competence?

The vetting and assessment process can be very rigorous always involving hearing from the market that consumes or employs the academic institution’s products, the students, the faculty staff involved and the alumni who previously graduated through the same program whose ICAPA accreditation is being sought.

In the UMI’s case, the process (unusually lasting such a very short time) began last with Prof Gerald Kagambirwe Karyeija writing to ICAPA seeking accreditation for their MPA degree program. Remarkably within just a year UMI was found by the vetting committee to be eligible for the accreditation.
Karyeija heads the School of Management Sciences which at UMI is the one offering the much-sought after MPA program. The MPA’s mother department is that of Political & Administrative Sciences which Karyeija directly supervises. On getting Karyeija’s communication, ICAPA Brussels-based secretariat sent self-assessment forms which UMI officials filled and sent back. Basing on the answers therein it will be decided whether to move to the next stage or not. It will all depend how appropriate the assessors consider the applying institute depending on the answers provided on the assessment forms.

Consequently, the ICAPA site visit team was constituted (compromising of very eminent and seasoned public administrators) and sent on fact finding mission that lasted 16-20th March 2019. While here, the team interacted with relevant stakeholders on top of inspecting all the UMI facilities in place. Members included Rachel Emas, Polya Katsamunska, Allan Rosenbaum and our own John Mitala the head public service and secretary to cabinet.

They subsequently outed their report highly recommending UMI as suitable while highlighting (mostly staffing) areas requiring improvement. This assessment exercise heavily involves the United Nations whose standards are what the site visit team bases on to score an institution’s suitability for the accreditation.
The report observed that despite commencing in 2010, the MPA had turned out very popular to the extent that from the pioneering 36 students, enrolment had grown to 75 students. It has since been accredited twice by NCHE, a very reputable regulator of higher education in Uganda. The report commends UMI for running such a “reputable and high-quality program” preparing participants for entry into public service and also for doctoral studies.

The ICAPA team was also fascinated by the fact that staff on the MPA program often had their views, advice and guidance sought by holders of public office in the GoU through the IMI-coordinated Uganda Development Management Forum. Notwithstanding areas of potential improvement, the program was also found to be solidly packaged in terms of the research component and the weekend modules through which it is delivered to the learners.

The conclusion was: “Based on the review of the self-assessment report, as well as the observations of the site visit team, it is recommended that the Master’s in Public Administration degree program (option A) of the School of Management Sciences of the UMI be granted full accreditation for a maximum time of six years.”  Its on this recommendation that the IASIA and ICAPA leadership based to publicly hand over to UMI Dr. James Nkata the much-coveted ICAPA certificate of accreditation in Lisbon on Monday.
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