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A graduation ceremony with a difference

14 Nov 2013

African drums herald Equity and Merit Scholars’ success

Equity and Merit graduation

The University hosted a graduation ceremony with a difference, to the sound of African drumming, when more than 35 Equity and Merit alumni, current students and their families attended a scholarship celebration in Kampala, Uganda.

Many of the students couldn’t attend their graduation in Manchester, either because they had to return home as soon as completing their studies or they studied by distance learning so have never actually been to the UK.

So the event was a great opportunity to celebrate the students' achievements in African style, with local drummers providing the music for the ceremony.

Equity and Merit Scholarships give access to postgraduate education for outstanding students from some of the world’s poorest countries supporting 130 students so far.

Scholarships are available for full-time campus-based Masters programmes and online learning. All students’ costs are covered, with the University waiving tuition fees and donations by alumni covering airfares, visas and living expenses. Initially targeting Uganda, the scheme now includes Rwanda, Tanzania and Bangladesh.

The graduation was hosted by Professor Ian Jacobs, Vice-President and Dean of Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, with guests of honour Dr Lukwago Asuman, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health and Professor Moro, Dean of the Medical School, Gulu University.

The graduates studied a wide range of courses from engineering and medical sciences to educational leadership and corporate governance: courses which are unavailable in their home country and likely to benefit its development needs.

Ten awards are also available each year for distance learning programmes in public health, human resources and management information systems.

Many students have shown great commitment and determination to succeed in difficult circumstances. It's hard enough studying for a Masters when you're working full-time, but even harder in Uganda when you’re studying by distance learning in a country where internet access is poor. One student even set-up his own internet cafe in a remote part of Northern Uganda as a way of addressing the problem!

One graduate Peter J Sentongo, who completed his masters in Public Health by distance learning in 2011, is now Public Health Specialist at the US Centers for Disease Control in Uganda.

Peter said: “I will forever appreciate your support through the Equity and Merit Scholarship that has helped advance my career in Public Health. The skills acquired while at The University of Manchester will be used to significantly contribute towards the transformation of our country’s health care system.

“Thank you for bringing The University of Manchester to Kampala to celebrate our graduation with us! It was fabulous and made us feel part of the University.”